Below Is A Great Video, Courtesy Of Justin Guitar Online Where He Clearly Demonstrates How To Play Some Classic Blues Licks.


Hexatonic, or six-note, blues licks consists of the minor pentatonic scale plus the 5th degree. A major feature of the blues scale is the use of blue notes which is where we create our own blues licks 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 evolution of this scale may be traced back to Asia (pentatonic major). Through native North America (pentatonic minor) with the addition of the flat 5 blue note (slave trade/Africa).

Blues scale as minor pentatonic plus flat-5th/sharp-4th.

Blues Licks

Major blues scale is C, D, D?/E?, E, G, A and the minor is C, D?/E?, F, F?/G?, G, B?. The latter is the hexatonic scale (top).


The heptatonic, or seven-note, conception of the “blues scale” is as a diatonic scale (a major scale) with lowered third, fifth, and seventh degree 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'”.

Blues scale as diatonic scale with lowered 3rd, 5th, and 7th degrees.


A 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. (in effect substitutions from Dorian mode) 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.”

Blues scale as a chromatic variant of the major scale

Heres a different and non-formal way of playing the scale.  The use of quarter tones, added to the 3rd and 7th degrees of the minor blues scale. For example, the A minor blues scale with quarter tones is A–B–Chalf sharp–D–E–F?–Ghalf sharp, where half sharp is a half sharp. Also, the note D? can be used as an additional note. Guitar players can raise a given note by a quarter tone through bending.


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