Major Blues Scale: Theory & Ear Training

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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‚Ķ

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  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.

Solfege Ear Training

Let’s take a moment to talk about how to get the most benefit from the Solfege ear training studies below…

  1. Singing the Solfege syllables out loud is the most effective way to internalize the unique sound-feeling of each note in any musical scale. Why? Because singing out loud requires you to actively process the sounds at a much deeper level than merely passively listening.
  2. It is absolutely essential that you go slowly enough to allow the unique sound-feeling of each Solfege syllable to make a meaningful impression on your mind’s ear.
  3. This is not interval training. It’s okay if you hear the intervals between successive notes, but your goal is to hear and feel the unique character of each Solfege syllable with respect to the key center DO and to each other.
  4. Solfege ear training generalizes to any key. In other words, if you can hear and feel the unique harmonic pull of Ti towards Do in the key of C, you will be able to hear and feel the unique harmonic pull of Ti towards Do in any key!
  5. At first, it’s quite alright to play each note on your instrument before you sing, but I promise you this: If you do these studies as described above, you will quickly internalize the unique sound-feeling of each Solfege syllable in you mind’s ear without help from your instrument.
  6. In summary… Sing out loud, take your time, and fight for every note. If you do, you will enjoy musical dividends for a lifetime, guaranteed!

C Major Blues Scale: Linear, Ascending…

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C Major Blues Scale: Linear, Descending…

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

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

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learn more… Middle Eastern Scale: Theory & Ear Training