What Scale is Used in Blues Music?

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A look at the various scales used in blues music, from major and minor pentatonic to the blues scale and beyond.

Major and Minor

In music, there are two types of scales: major and minor. A major scale is made up of eight notes, while a minor scale has seven. The extra note in a major scale is called the “major third,” while the missing note in a minor scale is called the “minor third.” The third note of the major scale is what gives it its name. For example, the C major scale consists of the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and C.

The Blues Scale

The blues scale is a six-note scale with a minor third, perfect fourth, diminished fifth, minor seventh and a major ninth. It can be played in any key and on any instrument. The blues scale is commonly used in blues, rock and jazz music.

Other Scales Used in Blues

In addition to the minor and major pentatonic scales, there are a few other scales that are commonly used in blues music. The “blues scale” is a mixolydian scale with a flattened seventh degree, and it’s often used to solo over minor seventh chords. The bebop scale is an eight-note scale that includes both an added chromatic passing tone and a repeated root note, and it can be used to solo over major or minor seventh chords.

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