Say you have a cool harmonic progression and what a “bluesy-sounding” melody. Where do you start? Do you go right to bending certain pitches to create “blue notes;” do you use stock licks from your favorite artists that emulated a blues style; do you throw in flattened scale degrees…?
Today we are going to talk about achieving the “blues” sound over a harmonic progression by using the minor blues scale in the melody.
First of all, the minor blues scale is made up of the following scale degrees:
| 1 – b3 – 4 – #4 – 5 – b7 – 1 |
Next, the root is based on the key of the chord progression, NOT the chord itself. In the example below, while the key signature is not defined, one can assume that based on the harmonic progression that the composition is in the key of A Major. Knowing that, a person should use the A minor blues scale over each of the chords.
This may look weird on paper, having a flatted-3rd over a major/dominant chord figure – but take a listen to it! With the lowered scale degree, it certainly sounds out of place, but in fact bluesy! Of course, these are still tension tones (including the #4 scale degree) and should be treated with good resolution… or not, you are the composer!
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