Major Blues Scale: Theory & Ear Training

piano-ology-scales-c-major-blues-featured

The Major Blues Scale is the lesser known cousin of the minor blues scale…

Sometimes called the Jazz Blues Scale, it has a more majorish, jazzier quality than the Minor Blues Scale.

Theory

Here, for example, are the notes in the C Major Blues Scale identified by letter name, scale degree (numbers), and Solfege syllable…

piano-ology-scales-c-major-blues-notation-letter-names-scale-degrees-solfege
piano-ology-scales-c-major-blues-keyboard-layout-letter-names-solfege
  1. The scale structure of the Major Blues Scale is always 1-2-b3-3–5-6-1, no matter what key you are in.
  2. The Solfege syllables of the Major Blues Scale are always Do-Re-Me-Mi-So-La-Do, no matter what key you are in.
  3. The only thing that changes when you change keys are the letter names.

Comparative Scale Study

The Major Blues Scale uses all five notes from the Major Pentatonic Scale, but adds the blue note Me.

The side-by-side use of Mi and Me gives this scale a delicious simultaneous major/minor feel that is so characteristic of blues, jazz, and gospel.

Note regarding notation: In the key of C, You will often see Eb spelled as D# depending on the context. Do not fret over the names. It’s the sound and physical keys that count. This is a great illustration of the limits of “theory” and naming things. To my intellect and ears, I think that Eb(D#) may be most musically described as “Mi flat” because it is really its relationship to Mi that defines it. Again, don’t get hung up on the names. Names are just very temporary training wheels until we see that music is really about the sound, visio-spatial mapping, and the physical expression on our instrument.

The Major Blues Scale in Action

Boogie woogie

Gospel

Solfege Ear Training

Reading and singing the Solfege syllables out loud is a very effective way to internalize the unique sound-feeling of each note in a musical scale. Reminder: It is absolutely essential that you sing these out loud… and to play and sing slowly enough to allow the unique sound-feeling of each solfege syllable to make an impression on your mind’s ear.

C Major Blues Scale: Linear, Ascending…

piano-ology-scales-c-major-blues-ear-training-linear-ascending

C Major Blues Scale: Linear, Descending…

piano-ology-scales-c-major-blues-ear-training-linear-descending

C Major Blues Scale: Do-X-Do, Ascending…

piano-ology-scales-c-major-blues-ear-training-do-x-do-ascending

C Major Blues Scale: Do-X-Do, Descending…

piano-ology-scales-c-major-blues-ear-training-do-x-do-descending

learn more… Middle Eastern Scale: Theory & Ear Training