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Hello everyone.

I've been watching the videos of Bill Hilton, very helpful, but something about the blues scale puzzles me. In this video (click) he says the blues scale is ten notes, but the definitions I found by googling, say a blues scale is seven notes. Actually the numbers should be nine and six respectively, as the root an octave higher is included in the first case, both for the regular and extended blues scales.

For example the seven note C blues scale is C Eb, F, G, Gb, Bb and C. The "extended" blues scale, as Bill calls it in another video, has the same seven notes, but includes the D, E and A notes. Which means the extended blues scale includes all the (white) notes of the C major scale, except the B, along with the third, fifth, and seventh notes flatted, Eb, Gb and Bb, as said earlier.

Now theory and application are not always the same, so I ask which of these two blues scales is more used in practice?

Lastly, I noticed something about the blues scale, that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere. All it is, is the chords Csus4 and Eb minor, in the case of C. So generally, ROOTsus4, and FLAT-THIRD-minor. While I'm still getting used to the blues scales, I believe this will help me memorize them.


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Theodore, a broader look at the approaches to the blues scale can be found here:
https://books.google.co.il/books?id...Slim%20about%20Blues%20scale&f=false

  pages 863 - 865.
Theodore, a broader look at the approaches to the blues scale can be found here:
https://books.google.co.il/books?id...Slim%20about%20Blues%20scale&f=false
  pages 863 - 865.
But what is more important in blues than the scale - a blues melismatic , creating a unique flavor of blues.



Last edited by Nahum; 11/29/15 12:37 PM.
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This is what I got from a youtube tutorial. It is a single source from the internet so take it for what it's worth. They defined a blues scale as: Root, Flat 3rd, Fourth, Flat Fifth, Fifth, Flat 7th. The numbers referring to the notes of the major scale of the root note.


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Tim Richards ("Improvising Blues Piano") also calls the 6-note scale:

C Eb F Gb G Bb

the "blues scale", and considers it derived from the minor pentatonic scale:

C Eb F G Bb ( = major pentatonic Eb F G Bb C ),

by adding the flatted fifth Gb.

If you want an interesting exercise, try playing a two-octave blues scale, up and down, in every key. It's a bit of a mind-twister . . .




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You shouldn't be thinking about - 'this is right/this is wrong', it just is, and can be used as you want. The classic blues scale is the 6 note minor pentatonic with the blues note, but that really only serves as an introduction to blues playing, but it's far from the final word.

The 2nd (or 9th), 3rd and 6th notes also work very well with the blues sound, so that's why they're often put in to extend the blues scale. To take it further this is what you do in jazz until you cover every note, you basically have scales that are chromatic, the trick is understanding what each note does in context and how to use them. Just because they're 'in the scale' doesn't mean you can play it whenever you want and it'll sound good, this is true even for the most basic blues.

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Thank you guys, so the second third and sixth natural notes can be added. Charles, I'll try that exercise when I can have my rig set up again. Everything is packed down right now, as I'm moving to a new place soon.

Last edited by TheodorN; 11/29/15 08:25 PM.

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Here's a simpler way of thinking about it.

The blues is based on pentatonic scales, so 5 notes. There's also the "blue" note added for flavor.

Major: 1 2 3 5 6 Blue Note b3
Minor: 1 b3 4 5 b7 Blue Note #4/b5

That's where all of these combinations of "blues scales" come from.

When starting out, use just the major, then just the minor, until you get the sound of each. Then switch between them to create cool sounds.

There's also Dorian mode, which is a sort of hybrid of both pentatonic scales: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7

Dorian works great as a transitional lick between major and minor.


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HI T,

All the comments above are great. Brian's pentatonic/dorian scale is a great way.

I agree, Bill Hilton has done a cracking lesson there! He is combining the Blues scale with the Mixolydian scale which is the 5th mode of the major scale. Hence the 9- 10 note scale if you include the octave smile


The Blues scale in C is:

C Eb F F# G Bb C - 1 b3 4 #4 5 b7

The C Mixolydian is:

C D E F G A Bb C - 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7


This is how I look at it when I play on a C7 chord. I mix the 2 scales together. Just another way to do it.

Hope this helps

Take it easy

Greg

Last edited by Greg Lloyd; 11/30/15 07:48 AM.

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Simplest mthod. . .
If it sounds right it is right!
Blues can have its variations too. Thats down to the zrtist.


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Yes Greg, those comments are great, yours too. It helps a lot, when there is something new to learn, to connect it with something already learned.

The realationship of the blues scales to other scales has been explained well. I'm not that skilled in the pentatonic scales, but as with the blues scales, I try to build them from the corresponding major (or minor, in the case of minor) scales.

When I'm playing with a different scale (compared to a major scale) I find I accidentally play the "forbidden notes", that is the major seventh, and also the fourth in the case of a pentatonic scale. I was thinking about putting a sticker on those notes. Sounds stupid, but might be a way to prevent me from striking them. smile


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Originally Posted by TheodorN
. . .
When I'm playing with a different scale (compared to a major scale) I find I accidentally play the "forbidden notes", that is the major seventh, and also the fourth in the case of a pentatonic scale. I was thinking about putting a sticker on those notes. Sounds stupid, but might be a way to prevent me from striking them. smile


"There's no wrong notes on a piano." - Thelonius Monk


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To understand the blues and   its sounds are not particularly necessary to read books , but listen to recordings - and the more, the better. The conclusions will be different from the books ...

Bessie Smith : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnsp6IS4GEs

Set the pitch of their order:
high E b 6 times - regular E b- long E natural | high E b 3 times - E natural - high E b | long E natural | high E-b 2 times |


D 6 times -| high E b3 times - E natural - high Eb t | long E natural |

low E -D | E natural -D-E-D-low E - long D | low D# - low E 2 times C -E nat-D | long C ||

Thus , in this blues the following scale:
E nat. - low E- high Eb - regular Eb - D - C
= 6 pitches
Pay attention to the following fact: the blues scale   isn't built from the bottom up - as a regular major or minor scales ; but from above!!




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Originally Posted by Greg Lloyd
He is combining the Blues scale with the Mixolydian scale which is the 5th mode of the major scale. Hence the 9- 10 note scale if you include the octave smile

Yeah, Mixolydian is another one of those good, lick-based transitional scales that combines the concept of both pentatonic scales.

Most guitar players start out improvising on pentatonic. I don't know why piano players don't adopt the same philosophy.

Originally Posted by TheodorN
The realationship of the blues scales to other scales has been explained well. I'm not that skilled in the pentatonic scales, but as with the blues scales, I try to build them from the corresponding major (or minor, in the case of minor) scales.

When I'm playing with a different scale (compared to a major scale) I find I accidentally play the "forbidden notes", that is the major seventh, and also the fourth in the case of a pentatonic scale. I was thinking about putting a sticker on those notes. Sounds stupid, but might be a way to prevent me from striking them. smile

I think being very familiar with both the major and minor pentatonic (in the same key) really unlocks a lot of improv skills. I'd even avoid the "blues" notes until you hear the main 5. Then you can explore variations.

By the way, there are really no "forbidden notes". More guidelines than rules. There's a really cool ending lick that uses the major 7:
5 b7 5 7 8 ( G Bb G B C )
Play it, you'll recognize it. It's all about context.

Last edited by Brian Lucas; 11/30/15 03:50 PM. Reason: clarified the lick

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Brian, how do you advise me to play this sequence? Arpeggiate the chords, and in any order of the notes?

Nahum, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the blues scale is built from above. I'll try out this progression though, when my piano is back up.


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Originally Posted by TheodorN
Brian, how do you advise me to play this sequence? Arpeggiate the chords, and in any order of the notes?

Thanks to YouTube, it's easy to introduce the idea of scales. Let's take C blues. Just type "C Blues Backing Track" into YouTube and pick one. While it's playing run the scales up and down, one note at a time. Major, C-D-E-G-A-C-A-G-E-D-C for a while, then switch to minor C-Eb-F-G-Bb-C-Bb-G-F-Eb-C. You'll soon find yourself able to predict the sound BEFORE you play the note. You can start to mix them up and see if the predictions still hold true. Try 2 notes at a time, etc. Then add in the blues notes to hear the tension they add to the mix. That's a good starting point. Then changing to a different key is a matter of seeing the right notes in that key. The scale will sound similar.


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Originally Posted by TheodorN


Nahum, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the blues scale is built from above. I'll try out this progression though, when my piano is back up.


The basic form of the major scale:

http://thebirdfeednyc.com/2013/03/28/c-major-scale-activity-for-kids/

The basic form of blues scale:

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Thanks for the info guys, now I have many ideas to try on the piano.


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