Minor Blues Scale: Theory & Ear Training

piano-ology-scales-c-minor-blues-featured

The Minor Blues Scale is the blues scale that most people are familiar with, so much so that it usually just called the Blues Scale…

The Minor Blues Scale has only six notes and is yet another existence proof that scales are not made up of “half steps” and “whole steps”.

Theory

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

piano-ology-scales-c-minor-blues-keyboard-layout-descending
  1. The scale structure of the Minor Blues Scale is always 1-b3-4-#4/b5-5-6-b7-1, no matter what key you are in.
  2. The Solfege syllables of the Minor Blues Scale are always Do-Me-Fi/Se-So-Le-Do, no matter what key you are in.
  3. The only thing that changes when you change keys are the letter names.

Play and sing the Minor Blues Scale with special attention to the three blue notes: Me, Fi/Se, and Te. Notice the bluesy quality these special notes bring to the musical table. “Bluesy” cannot be described with mere words, but you sure know it when you hear it!

Special Note about Names: Don’t fuss over whether F#/Fi/Fa sharp should be called Gb/Se/So flat or vice versa. These are all just arbitrary names that you will eventually discard like training wheels. At the end of the day, the sound and physical mapping on your instrument are all that really matter!

Comparative Scale Study

Notice that the Minor Blues Scale uses all five notes from the Minor Pentatonic Scale, but adds an extra blue note Fi/Se. Don’t try to “memorize” this fact, but do realize how much certain scale types have in common and how learning one kind of scale helps you to learn others.

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 Minor Blues Scale: Linear, Ascending…

C Minor Blues Scale: Linear, Descending…


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

piano-ology-scales-c-minor-blues-scale-ear-training-do-x-do-ascending

Descending…

piano-ology-scales-c-minor-blues-scale-ear-training-do-x-do-descending

learn more… Major Blues Scale: Theory & Ear Training