Tip #47 – Working the Major Blues Scale and Replacements

In a previous post, I talked about the idea of using the minor blues scale over a harmonic progression. Now, what if I told you that there was a major blues scale version? What kind of melodic treatment would be used over the harmonic progression f you decided to take that route with a major blues scale?

A major blues scale is like the minor blues, but starts on the flattened-3rd scale degree of the minor blues. So, the new scale degrees become:

| 1 – 2 – b3 – 3 – 5 – 6 – 1 |

And they work great of major triadic or dominant chords!

However, it should be noted that unlike the minor blues scale, the root is based of the chord, NOT the key. So, using a blues chord progression in A Major, the root of the scale would change with each sounding chord.

By now you must be thinking: “But wait! If the major blues scale is determined by the chord and not the key… and the major blues scale is a ‘mode’ – essentially, of the minor blues that is determined by the key, can’t different versions of the minor blues scale work? As so, being dependent on the chord?”

While it is not in common practice, it sure works! To use these replacement blues scales, take the original major blues scale and start on the 6th scale degree to get the minor blues version:

As mentioned above, this is not typical practice of the blues, but it does offer interesting variety for sure! Experiment around with it!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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