Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Blues scale in major/minor keys

  1. #1
    Registered User netmuzik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Montana - the least jazzy state next to Utah
    Posts
    9

    Blues scale in major/minor keys

    Is there no difference between the blues scale in a minor as opposed to a major key? Do they sound exactly the same, just over different chords?

    For instance, in C Major, the scale would be:

    C Eb F Gb G Bb

    What about c minor? Sorry, I only learned how to treat the blues scale in a major key setting and am unsure about minor keys.

    How is the scale typically treated in a minor key? For instance, in most music, the seventh scale degree of a minor key is raised, giving a major V instead of a minor v. In minor blues, is the v just left as is, or changed to a V and set against the blues scale (similar to what happens in a major key)?

  2. #2
    balladeer page's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    the windmill area
    Posts
    5,194
    Hi Netmuzik,

    In the Jazzhandbook which you can find at http://www.jazzwise.com/catalog/arti...articles_id=10 there is a document about the blues scale. I think there is something in it about minor scales. I can't open it right now to check. Maybe there are some problems with the website or maybe it's just my internetconnection that doesn't work that well right now.

  3. #3
    Piano/Compose/Arrange engelbach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, México
    Posts
    7,602
    Quote Originally Posted by netmuzik View Post
    Is there no difference between the blues scale in a minor as opposed to a major key? Do they sound exactly the same, just over different chords?

    For instance, in C Major, the scale would be:

    C Eb F Gb G Bb

    What about c minor? Sorry, I only learned how to treat the blues scale in a major key setting and am unsure about minor keys.

    How is the scale typically treated in a minor key? For instance, in most music, the seventh scale degree of a minor key is raised, giving a major V instead of a minor v. In minor blues, is the v just left as is, or changed to a V and set against the blues scale (similar to what happens in a major key)?
    Dan Greenblatt, my sax player, in his book The Blues Scales: Essential Tools for Jazz Improvisation, maintains that there are two blues scales: major and minor. They consist of exactly the same notes, but differ in their roots.

    The "standard" blues scale — 1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 — he calls a minor blues scale. As you cite above, in C this is C Eb F Gb G Bb.

    Now take the root a minor third up from C, Eb, and run the same notes — Eb F Gb G Bb C. This is a major blues scale.

    You can see also that the relationship of C to Eb is one of relative minor and major.

    In a major blues key, one can play both the major and the minor blues scales. In C, the major blues scale (which is the same as the minor blues scale of the relative minor of C, Am) is C D Eb E G A. The minor blues scale is, as stated above, C Eb F Gb G Bb.

    In a minor key, however, only the minor blues scale — the "standard" blues scale — will work. This is because the major blues scale contains a major third, which by definition doesn't exist in a minor scale.

    So the answer to your question is that your "standard" blues scale works in both major and minor blues.

    Now I hope Dan doesn't sue me for revealing what's in his book ...
    Jerry Engelbach, piano/arrange/compose
    Engelbach Music
    Weaver of Dreams
    Artwork

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    2,813
    Quote Originally Posted by netmuzik View Post
    How is the scale typically treated in a minor key? For instance, in most music, the seventh scale degree of a minor key is raised, giving a major V instead of a minor v. In minor blues, is the v just left as is, or changed to a V and set against the blues scale (similar to what happens in a major key)?
    in measure 10, where the V7 chord is played, players sometimes use the notes that fit that chord. see, for example, dave liebman's solo on mr. p.c., where he plays a C# (third of the chord) and an F# (thirteenth) over the A7 chord (key of D minor):

    http://www.transcriptions-pool.de/suchen.php

    jerry--that info on "major" blues scale exists elsewhere (hal leonard essential elements play-along, for one). and of course, monk uses it (straight, no chaser--head).

  5. #5
    Piano/Compose/Arrange engelbach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, México
    Posts
    7,602
    Quote Originally Posted by randalljazz View Post
    in measure 10, where the V7 chord is played, players sometimes use the notes that fit that chord. see, for example, dave liebman's solo on mr. p.c., where he plays a C# (third of the chord) and an F# (thirteenth) over the A7 chord (key of D minor):

    http://www.transcriptions-pool.de/suchen.php

    jerry--that info on "major" blues scale exists elsewhere (hal leonard essential elements play-along, for one). and of course, monk uses it (straight, no chaser--head).
    Thanks, Randall.

    I may have implied that Dan invented the idea, which he didn't. I was doing a little promotion ...

    His book is an excellent, well-explained and documented source for the info. He analyzed what people play and set it down as a primer, citing many examples.

    Your point about the V chord I partly agree with. The important note in the V chord (A13), of course, is the (C#), the leading tone (in Dm) that's not in the blues scale (it's in the melodic and harmonic minor scales) but is imperative in emphasizing the dominant.

    But Dave Liebman's mastery notwithstanding, I would be wary about counseling anyone who's just learning to play a minor blues to use A13, as the 13 (F#) takes us, however briefly, into D major.

    Breaking my own dictum ... another departure from the blues scale in a minor (or major blues) is to play the II chord as an altered dominant. And naturally, there's the convention of ending a minor blues on a Im6, in which the 6 is also not in the blues scale. Powerful sound, IIalt-Valt-Im69. The chromaticism of the altered chords have the "hardness" of the minor blues, even though some of the notes are not in the minor key.

    But anyone struggling to just figure out how to use the blues scale should ignore that last point for now.

    My answer only concered netmuzik's question about whether the "standard" blues scale was appropriate to play in a minor blues. It was far from complete. As we know, you can play almost anything at some point or other in a minor blues. It's a form that invites chromaticism.

    Cheers,
    Jer
    Jerry Engelbach, piano/arrange/compose
    Engelbach Music
    Weaver of Dreams
    Artwork

  6. #6
    Registered User netmuzik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Montana - the least jazzy state next to Utah
    Posts
    9
    Actually, the reason I asked this question is because the blues scale has some similarity to the minor scale. I fiddled around with it in a minor key, but couldn't do much to evoke that blues sound. It sounded too similar to the ordinary minor scale, just with a couple scale steps removed and one altered one (contrast this with the blues scale over a major key--two steps removed and three altered--makes quite a difference). Part of what makes the blues so distinctive, from what I've been able to gather, is that the scale has a minor quality to it, but is often played over major chords. In minor keys, of course, neither the tonic nor the predominant (iio or iv) chords are major, only the dominant is, by standard, major through alteration. I suppose some of these could be altered as well, but whatever.

    It's interesting that there is a major blues scale. I don't come from that background and haven't read much into this subject yet. I'm not looking forward to learning how to use all the modes either, but maybe if someone could direct me to the most commonly used ones in jazz, I would be grateful.

  7. #7
    Registered User netmuzik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Montana - the least jazzy state next to Utah
    Posts
    9
    Actually, the reason I asked this question is because the blues scale has some similarity to the minor scale. I fiddled around with it in a minor key, but couldn't do much to evoke that blues sound. It sounded too similar to the ordinary minor scale, just with a couple scale steps removed and one altered one (contrast this with the blues scale over a major key--two steps removed and three altered--makes quite a difference). Part of what makes the blues so distinctive, from what I've been able to gather, is that the scale has a minor quality to it, but is often played over major chords. In minor keys, of course, neither the tonic nor the predominant (iio or iv) chords are major, only the dominant is, by standard, major through alteration. I suppose some of these could be altered as well, but whatever.

    It's interesting that there is a major blues scale. I don't come from that background and haven't read much into this subject yet. I'm not looking forward to learning how to use all the modes either, but maybe if someone could direct me to the most commonly used ones in jazz, I would be grateful.

    Additions:

    Jerry, I wouldn't put myself into the struggling category. I have a pretty decent understanding of music theory; I had the highest score in my high school music theory class. You really don't have to worry too much about going too far over my head. The V13 is actually fairly easy to find in the classical literature, for instance. It's use may differ in blues/jazz, but it's still the same chord. There are some things I may not understand yet, but I generally pick things up pretty quick.
    Last edited by netmuzik; October 31st, 2008 at 09:43 PM. Reason: additions

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    2,813
    Quote Originally Posted by netmuzik View Post
    . I'm not looking forward to learning how to use all the modes either, but maybe if someone could direct me to the most commonly used ones in jazz, I would be grateful.

    http://www.outsideshore.com/primer/primer/

    http://www.petethomas.co.uk/jazz-modes.html

  9. #9
    Piano/Compose/Arrange engelbach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, México
    Posts
    7,602
    Quote Originally Posted by netmuzik View Post
    Jerry, I wouldn't put myself into the struggling category. I have a pretty decent understanding of music theory; I had the highest score in my high school music theory class. You really don't have to worry too much about going too far over my head. The V13 is actually fairly easy to find in the classical literature, for instance. It's use may differ in blues/jazz, but it's still the same chord. There are some things I may not understand yet, but I generally pick things up pretty quick.
    Net,

    No offense intended. I didn't know where you were in your progress, so I said "anyone struggling." I figured that if you weren't struggling, you would understand what I had written, or I wouldn't have written it at all.

    I do strongly recommend the Dan Greenblatt book. It's not just for beginners; I picked up some good information from it.

    Cheers,
    Jer
    Jerry Engelbach, piano/arrange/compose
    Engelbach Music
    Weaver of Dreams
    Artwork

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  




Support the All About Jazz website and forum. Make a donation today!



Download the Jazz Near You iOS app

Download the Jazz Near You iOS app - Free!

Never miss another jazz concert again! Jazz Near You is a simple yet powerful way for fans to discover who is playing where and when. Access local jazz events by date, by distance, by venue, by musician or by festival; map to venues, set reminders, and get detailed information about musicians. Jazz Near You is your complete guide to jazz music near you! Download it now.



Visit All About Jazz at Twitter   Twitter Visit All About Jazz at Facebook   Facebook Use the All About Jazz content widgets on your website or blog   Widgets Subscribe to the All About Jazz RSS feeds   Feeds


All About Jazz | Jazz Near You | Jazz Musician Directory | Jazz News | Jazz Photo Gallery