1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Blues scales

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ablinow, Jul 6, 2002.

  1. ablinow


    Apr 15, 2000
    Norton, MA
    Recently I have been wondering about blues scales(like the one in 'sunshine of your love'. If you don't know what I mean,

    I was just wondering if a song was in one of these scales say on E, would this be the same as a relative minor scale making the key of the song G.

    I know this is confusing I'm not really an expert but hopefully you know what I'm trying to say.
  2. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Maybe I misunderstand your question, but at first blush it looks as if you may be unclear about the function of a scale and a key. I wonder if you cannot rephrase your question, so one of us here can explain better how blues scales are used in music and how to determine the key of a song when no key has been indicated or when you are transcribing a song you are hearing without benefit of a chord chart or a transcription.
  3. tummage


    Apr 23, 2002
    New Orleans, La
    I'm not sure what you're asking, but I'll try to explain.

    The Key of a song is determined by what chords are used in that song and the resultant scale which these chords adhere to. IE: D Em Am C D--V VI IV V
    this song would be in the key of G-even though no G chords were played in the song.
    The reason is the progression follows a G major scale.

    Not nearly as complicated as I'm making it sound, someone help.

    Of course there are always exceptions to the rule but I am talking generalities.

    The progression G Em C D G Em Am D I VI IV V I VI II V-- IS also in the key of G.

    So to answer your question YES it E blues can be used as a relative minor in the key of G. If that's what you want to do.

    Hope I didn't confuse you too much.

  4. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Tummage has a very complete explanation of chord progressions, etc., but I'm still confused by the question"...if a song is in one of these scales..." meaning, I assume, that the entire song is in a single blues scale. And even then, does it mean the chord progression follows a blues scale, or the same blues scale is played as a bassline (for example) to all the chords as might occur in a three chord twelve bar blues or what is meant?

    I might just be muddying the waters even further. :(
  5. ablinow


    Apr 15, 2000
    Norton, MA
    Sorry for making this confusing but you guys are way off. I am not an idiot I know about keys and scales, I know
    I:major 7
    II: Min 7
    III: Min7
    4: Maj 7
    5: Dom7
    6:min -relative minor
    7-min7 flat 5
    Now when I used to take lessons I learned what my teacher called a blues scale(tabbed in previous post), a minor scale except with an added not between the 4th and 5th, my question is: Does this scale act the same as a minor if use in a chord proggesion?
  6. tummage


    Apr 23, 2002
    New Orleans, La
    That's what had me confused too....

    Say for example the progression is G Em C D.
    It is possible to play a E blues scale over all these chords.

    It would require a discussion of modes which I won't get into, but just for a quickie.

    In G the E blues functions as a hybrid relative minor(the Bb becoming a "blue" note for the G scale)
    used a a passing tone- no prob.

    Em- the E blues works as a basic Em7(sus) aprpeggio. Careful with the Bb here as it may sound atonal if not placed right-still no prob.IE; it will give the chord an unfinished sound if you don't know how and where to resolve the suspension.

    C chord-again all are fine except watch that Bb as it may want to push the chord into a C7. Kind of an odd since it's leading the tone progression "away" from where it is needing to go.

    D - this is the one to watch as a possible
    D2(sus4)6 and then some may result-try to play D E A B and G and stay away from Bb until you're comfortable with how to resolve tension inside a progression.
    A good line may be D E B A G which leads you solidly back to your root note and the first chord.

    Hope it helps,
  7. tummage


    Apr 23, 2002
    New Orleans, La
    Way Off??

    I thought I kinda nailed it.
    Sorry if I misled anyone.


    (mummbling to himself-Way Off?):confused:
  8. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I never meant to imply that you or anyone here at TalkBass is an idiot. I just wasn't sure from the way the question was phrased exactly what you were asking and I wasn't sure how much you knew about theory.

    Also, I would never assume anyone is an idiot who doesn't know about keys and scales. There was a time when I didn't know about keys and scales.

    Actually, I believe that anyone who is asking a question is showing signs of intelligence because they are seeking to learn, a laudable trait indeed.
  9. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    What you are listing here is a harmonized major scale with its seventh chords (four note chords) for each degree of the scale. Thus the first degree of a major scale, let's say C major, would be C and the chord you list with the first degree is C major 7. The second degree of the C major scale is D. Its seventh chord is D minor7, and so on.

    You have the sixth degree listed as minor and relative minor. The note is A, the chord is A minor7(when the major scale is harmonized with seventh chords) and the relative minor refers to the scale which is the A minor scale and as it comes from the sixth degree of the major scale is the relative minor scale of the C major scale.

    In other words, the relative minor scale of a major scale has exactly the same notes and key signature as it's relative major scale, but is played starting on the sixth degree of its major scale. The relative minor scale is also called the Aeolian mode.

    If you already know all this, excuse me for belaboring the obvious. Again I wasn't sure from what you wrote and the chart you gave if you had a clear understanding of keys, scales and chords.
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    If I'm reading your question right, you're asking if the E Blues scale is relative to the key of G Major. If so, the answer is "sort of". The E blues scale is really a minor pentatonic with an added #4 (or b5, if you prefer). The E minor pentatonic scale is the relative minor of the G major pentatonic. If you add the #4 of E (which would be A# or Bb) to the G major pentatonic, you get what some folks call the "Major Blues Scale", which is basically a G major pentatonic with an added #2/b3 (also known as a "blue note"). If this is what you're asking, then the answer is:

    E minor Blues: E, G, A, A#, B, D, E

    G Major Blues: G, A, Bb, B, D, E, G

    The wild card in both cases is the same tone - A#/Bb...when used as a passing tone or a "scoop", it sounds fine. When used as a target to land on and stay there, it generally sounds like Poo. In either case, yes, the scales are relative of each other.

    But technically speaking, blues scales aren't really "keys" in and of themselves the way that Major and minor scales are, because the notes in them are not sufficient to generate enough harmony to work with, even for a basic blues progression.
  11. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Chris, I couldn't have said it better myself. In fact, I wish I had explained it that way. The crux of your explanation is that blues scales don't serve as keys. Furthermore, I'm still not 100% sure the questioner has a clear grasp of what is meant by key.
  12. ablinow


    Apr 15, 2000
    Norton, MA
    thank you, you guys nailed it.

Share This Page