Playing and Signing the Blues

scale-c-blues-smlMany questions surround the notion of the “blues”; from style, attitude, emotion, sound, structure, type of note, mood, and type of scale. 

It is all of this, but the scale is the starting point is for the blues.

It is a minor scale. Thus a 3rd down from the major scale but using 6 notes instead of 7. Or in the case of a full scale 7 instead of 8.

It is closely related to the minor pentatonic scale which has m3 and m7, but no 2nd or 6th. 

This is the same case with the blues scale, but it adds a m5 or more commonly called the diminished 5th.

Getting to the Blue Notes

Let’s walk through the development of a this scale. The C blues scale is a great place to start.

Since it is a type of minor scale we start with the major a minor 3rd up.

That is Eb major. So moving a minor 3rd down we would end up at the C natural minor.

The C natural minor can be converted to a C minor pentatonic scale that drops the 2nd and 6th. Let’s take a look at that scale:

C Minor Pentatonic


Now add the diminished 5th interval

C Blues


Constructing Blues Scales

These scales are developed mathematically using half, whole, and minor 3rd steps (3H). To make sure we understand the pattern we will build scale for ‘C’ Blues.

The Intervals
1 – m3 – 4 – d5 – 5 – m7 – 8
The Notes

C – Eb – F – Gb – G – Bb – C
The Steps
S + 3H + W + H + H + 3H + W

On the keyboard.


Knowing the blues scale in C, F, Bb, and G will allow you to work easily with a number of songs constructed in the blues genre.

Our Scales Workshops help you work through all the relationships for all the 12 tones scales and scale use. Consider it as additional study to improve your music theory knowledge.

Learning Resources

Scales Workshop

Learning scales is intimidating for the  beginning student.

Don’t let them get the best of you.

This Getting It Down Cold Key and Scale Workshop easily leads you through the process step by step.

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