The hexatonic, or six note, blues scale consists of the minor pentatonic scale plus the ♯4th or ♭5th degree. A major feature of the blues scale is the use of blue notes, however, since blue notes are considered alternative inflections, a blues scale may be considered to not fit the traditional definition of a scale. At its most basic, a single version of this "blues scale" is commonly used over all changes (or chords) in a twelve bar blues progression. Likewise, in contemporary jazz theory, its use is commonly based upon the key rather than the individual chord.
The heptatonic, or seven note, conception of the "blues scale" is as a diatonic scale (a major scale) with lowered third, fifth, and seventh degrees and blues practice is derived from the "conjunction of 'African scales' and the diatonic western scales". Steven Smith argues that, "to assign blue notes to a 'blues scale' is a momentous mistake, then, after all, unless we alter the meaning of 'scale'.
An essentially nine note blues scale is defined by Benward and Saker as a chromatic variation of the major scale featuring a flat third and seventh degrees which, "alternating with the normal third and seventh scale degrees are used to create the blues inflection. These 'blue notes' represent the influence of African scales on this music."[better source needed]
Greenblatt defines two blues scales, the major and the minor. The major blues scale is C, D, D♯/E♭, E, G, A and the minor is C, E♭, F, F♯/G♭, G, B♭. The latter is the hexatonic scale (top).
- Ferguson, Jim (2000). All Blues Scale for Jazz Guitar: Solos, Grooves & Patterns, p.6. ISBN 0-7866-5213-6.
- Arnold, Bruce (2002). The Essentials: Chord Charts, Scales and Lead Patterns for Guitar, p.8. ISBN 1-890944-94-7.
- Harrison, Mark (2003). Blues Piano: Hal Leonard Keyboard Style Series, p.8. ISBN 0-634-06169-0.
- "The Pentatonic and Blues Scale". How To Play Blues Guitar. 2008-07-09. Retrieved 2008-07-11.
- J. Bradford Robinson/Barry Kernfeld. "Blue Note", The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Second Edition, London (2002)
- "Blues Licks From Blues Scales". Between the Licks. 2008-02-25. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
- Smallwood, Richard (1980). "Gospel and Blues Improvisation" p.102, Music Educators Journal, Vol. 66, No. 5. (Jan., 1980), p.100-104.
- Oliver, Paul. "That Certain Feeling: Blues and Jazz... in 1890?" p.13, Popular Music, Vol. 10, No. 1, The 1890s. (Jan., 1991), pp. 11-19. Cites Rudi Blesh.
- Smith, Steven G. (1992). "Blues and Our Mind-Body Problem", Popular Music, Vol. 11, No. 1. (Jan., 1992), pp. 41-52.
- Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, p.39. Seventh Edition. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
- Schuller, Gunther (1986). Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development, p.44. ISBN 9780195040432. Cites Sargeant, Winthrop (1946/1964). Jazz: Hot and Hybrid.
- Greenblatt, Dan (2011). The Blues Scales - Eb Version, p.?. ISBN 9781457101472.
- Blues Scale diagrams for guitar mapped out in all positions
- Blues Guitar Lessons - Pentatonic & Blues Scale
- The Jazz Resource How to play on the blues scale
- Slowhand Blues guitar Detailed information on Blues scales
- Blues Scales on Guitar Lesson with blues backing tracks
- Blues Guitar Discussing the theory of the blues and pentatonic scale
- Blues Scale Improvisation Exercise Discussing the values and perils of the blues scale as an improvisational tool
- Hewitt, Michael. 2013. Musical Scales of the World. The Note Tree. ISBN 978-0957547001.