The Blues Scale Formula - Theory & Diagrams | Pianote (2024)

Jordan Leibel /Scales and Keys /UPDATED Feb 15, 2024

The blues scale formula is a fundamental concept every piano player should know. This sassy scale lets you riff, solo, and improvise as you play your favorite rock or blues songs!

The major blues scale formula is 1 – 2 – ♭3 – ♮3 – 5 – 6. Which means the C major blues scale consists of the notes C – D – E♭ – E♮ – G – A. The minor blues scale formula is 1 – ♭3 – 4 – ♭5 – 5 – ♭7, so the C minor blues scale has the notes C – E♭ – F – G♭ – G – B♭.

In this lesson, we’ll explain the theory behind the blues scale formula and show you all the major and minor blues scales in all 12 keys.

Table of Contents:

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Major Blues Scale Formula & Theory

The major blues scale formula is 1 – 2 – ♭3 – ♮3 – 5 – 6. Which means the C major blues scale consists of the notes C – D – E♭ – E♮ – G – A.

Every Major Blues Scale

Here are all the major blues scales in all 12 keys:

A-Flat Major Blues
Notes: A♭-B♭-C♭-C-E♭-F-A♭

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B-Flat Major Blues
Notes: B♭-C-D♭-D-F-G-B♭

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C Major Blues
Notes: C-D-E♭-E-G-A-C

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D Major Blues
Notes: D-E-F-F♯-A-B-D

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E Major Blues
Notes: E-F♯-G-G♯-B-C♯-E

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F-Sharp / G-Flat Major Blues
Notes: F♯-G♯-A-A♯-C♯-D♯-F♯

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A Major Blues
Notes: A-B-C-C♯-E-F♯-A

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B major Blues
Notes: B-C♯-D-D♯-F♯-G♯-B

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C-Sharp / D-Flat Major Blues
Notes: D♭-E♭-F♭-F-A♭-B♭-D♭

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E-Flat Major Blues
Notes: E♭-F-G♭-G-B♭-C-E♭

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F Major Blues
Notes: F-G-A♭-A-C-D-F

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G Major Blues
Notes: G-A-B♭-B-D-E-G

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Other Ways to Understand the Major Blues Scale

Another way to remember the major blues scale formula is as a series of steps: whole step – half step – half step – minor 3rd (3 half steps) – whole step.

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If you know the major pentatonic scale formula, you can also think of the major blues scale formula as the same thing except we flat the third and repeat it as a natural note. The flatted third is our blue note.

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Minor Blues Scale Formula & Theory

The minor blues scale is more common than the major blues. Chances are, if someone says “play a blues scale,” what they’re referring to is the minor blues scale.

The minor blues scale formula is 1 – ♭3 – 4 – ♭5 – 5 – ♭7, so the C minor blues scale has the notes C -E♭ – F – G♭ – G – B♭. (Note that the blues scale formula is based on the major scale.)

Every Minor Blues Scale

Here are all the minor blues scales in all 12 keys:

A-Flat Minor Blues
Notes: A♭-C♭-D♭-E♭♭-E♭-G♭-A♭

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B-Flat Minor Blues
Notes: B♭-D♭-E♭-F♭-F-A♭-B♭

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C Minor Blues
C-E♭-F-G♭-G-B♭-C

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D Minor Blues
Notes: D-F-G-A♭-A-C-D

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E Minor Blues
Notes: E-G-A-B♭-B-D-E

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F-Sharp / G-Flat Minor Blues
Notes: F♯-A-B-C-C♯-E-F♯

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A Minor Blues
Notes: A-C-D-E♭-E-G-A

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B Minor Blues
Notes: B-D-E-F-F♯-A-B

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C-Sharp / D-Flat Minor Blues
Notes: C♯-E-F♯-G-G♯-B-C♯

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E-Flat Minor Blues
Notes: E♭-G♭-A♭-B♭♭-B♭-D♭-E♭

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F Minor Blues
Notes: F-A♭-B♭-C♭-C-E♭-F

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G Minor Blues
Notes: G-B♭-C-D♭-D-F-G

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Other Ways to Understand the Minor Blues Scale

Another way to remember the minor blues scale formula as a series of steps: minor 3rd (3 half steps) – whole step – half step – half step – minor 3rd.

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If you know the minor pentatonic scale formula, you can also think of the minor blues scale formula as the same thing except we add a flatted fifth. This fifth is our blue note.

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More About Blues Scales

For fun, try playing the notes of this scale in any order over a I-IV-V progression. For example, if you’re playing a major blues scale starting on A, you’d play Amaj (I), Dmaj (IV), and Emaj (V) in your left hand while playing notes from the A major blues scale in your right. It will sound awesome!

To learn more about the blues scale and how to incorporate it into your playing, check out our full lesson on how to master the blues scale on piano.

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Jordan Leibelis passionate about songwriting, improvisation, and helping you become a creative musician! He’s worked as a composer for film, commercial, and theatre projects as well as a session musician and producer for recording work.

The Blues Scale Formula - Theory & Diagrams | Pianote (2024)

FAQs

The Blues Scale Formula - Theory & Diagrams | Pianote? ›

The major blues scale formula is 1 – 2 – ♭3 – ♮3 – 5 – 6. Which means the C major blues scale consists of the notes C – D – E♭ – E♮ – G – A. The minor blues scale formula is 1 – ♭3 – 4 – ♭5 – 5 – ♭7, so the C minor blues scale has the notes C – E♭ – F – G♭ – G – B♭.

What is the blues scale formula? ›

This means the new formula for the major blues scale will be 1 – 2 – b3 – 3 – 5 – 6. In the key of C, we spell this C – D – Eb – E – G – A. The blue note in this major scale is E flat. Try substituting the major blues scale for all the exercises you practiced above.

What are the 12 blues scales? ›

Blues Scales for Piano
  • Cm Pentatonic Blues. Notes: C, Eb, F, F#, G, Bb, C. ...
  • Dm Pentatonic Blues. Notes: D, F, G, G#, A, C, D. ...
  • Em Pentatonic Blues. Notes: E, G, A, A#, B, D, E. ...
  • F#m / Gbm Pentatonic Blues. Notes: F#, A, B, C, C#, E, F# ...
  • G#m / Abm Pentatonic Blues. ...
  • A#m / Bbm Pentatonic Blues. ...
  • C Pentatonic Blues. ...
  • D Pentatonic Blues.

What is the structure of the blues scale? ›

The major blues scale is 1, 2,♭3, 3, 5, 6 and the minor is 1, ♭3, 4, ♭5, 5, ♭7. The latter is the same as the hexatonic scale described above.

How do you make a blues scale scale? ›

Both are based on the standard minor and major pentatonic scales. To play the minor blues scale, you need to add a flat 5th to your standard minor pentatonic scale. To play the major blues scale, you need to add a flat 3rd to the major pentatonic scale.

What is the scale for blues in a? ›

The notes of the A Major Blues scale are A B C C# E F#. It's key signature has 3 sharps.

What scale is best for blues? ›

The blues scale is a six-note progression that sounds right at home in blues, rock, and country music. This scale is essentially the pentatonic scale plus one chromatic note, often called the blue note. This extra step gives the blues scale that unmistakably bluesy sound.

Why is it called the blues? ›

In the 19th century the English phrase blue devils referred to the upsetting hallucinations brought on by severe alcohol withdrawal. This was later shortened to the blues, which described states of depression and upset, and it was later adopted as the name for the melancholic songs that the musical genre encapsulates.

When to use the blues scale? ›

When to Use the Major Blues Scale. You can use the major blues scale when soloing over any part of a blues progression. So, if you are playing a blues progression in the key of E, you could use the E major blues scale. If you are playing over a blues progression in G, you could use the G major blues scale, and so on.

What is the basic blues structure? ›

A 12-bar blues is divided into three four-bar segments. A standard blues progression, or sequence of notes, typically features three chords based on the first (written as I), fourth (IV), and fifth (V) notes of an eight-note scale.

Which is the correct definition of a blues scale? ›

: a musical scale having intervals that mutate between major and minor and used especially in jazz.

What are the roots of the blues scale? ›

Most of the notes in the blues scale come from the minor pentatonic scale. The pentatonic scale is made of five notes (hence the name 'pentatonic'). The minor pentatonic scale is a five note scale that has a darker, minor tonality to it. The first of the five notes in the scale is called the root note.

What is the pattern for A blues scale? ›

Chances are, if someone says “play a blues scale,” what they're referring to is the minor blues scale. The minor blues scale formula is 1 – ♭3 – 4 – ♭5 – 5 – ♭7, so the C minor blues scale has the notes C -E♭ – F – G♭ – G – B♭. (Note that the blues scale formula is based on the major scale.)

What is the formula for the major scale? ›

The major scale follows the formula "whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half" or WWHWWWH. Beginning on the note C and following this pattern gives us C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. Notice that the words "whole" and "half" do not refer to any of the notes: they describe the distances between them.

How does the blues work? ›

The blues has a distinct melancholic and somber tone, which is achieved through vocal techniques such as melisma, rhythmic techniques such as syncopation, and instrumental techniques such as “choking” guitar strings on the neck or applying a metal slide to the guitar strings to create a whining voicelike sound.

What is the formula for the pentatonic scale? ›

With that in mind, the major pentatonic scale's formula is 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 – 6 notes of a given scale. These five notes can also be found among the seven notes that make up the E major scale, with A and D# being the other two.

What is the formula for the BB blues scale? ›

The notes of the Bb Major Blues scale are Bb C Db D F G. It's key signature has 2 flats. Press play to listen to the scale.

What is the pattern of the G blues scale? ›

The notes of the G Major Blues scale are G A Bb B D E. It's key signature has 1 sharp. Press play to listen to the scale. Click the virtual piano or the notation to hear each note.

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