Tag Archives: Blues Scale

Piano Scales: Minor Pentatonic & The Blues Scale

Piano-ScalesWhen it comes to piano scales for improvisation, the pentatonic is one you will want to have fun with in all keys. Now, we already acknowledged the major pentatonic scale. Let’s look at it here, specifically the C pentatonic scale:

C  D  E  G  A  C

As we have mentioned before, the major pentatonic scale consists of the 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the major scale. It cannot be overemphasized that learning this and other scales in the other keys will certainly be conducive to massive confidence.

Now that we have looked at the major pentatonic scale, we will use it as a foundation for playing the minor pentatonic scale. Just like the major scale has a relative minor scale, the minor pentatonic scale has a relative minor pentatonic scale.

If we begin the C major pentatonic scale on the A instead of the C and end it on an A, we have:

A  C  D  E  G  A

There we have it! Yes, this is the A minor pentatonic scale. It’s one of those piano scales you’ll want to master. So, the formula is as follows: begin any major pentatonic scale on the 6th degree and end it on the same degree an octave higher and the result is the relative pentatonic scale.

We also have already spent some time acknowledging the blues scale. Well, let’s use this minor pentatonic scale as a foundation for playing a blues scale beginning on the same note. Maybe you have already noticed that the only difference between the minor pentatonic and the blues scale is one note.

Again, here is the A minor pentatonic scale:

A  C  D  E  G  A

Now, let’s simply add an Eb (or a flat 5) to this and here is the result:

A  C  D  Eb  E  G  A

Yes, here we have the A blues scale!

So, there you have it! To arrive at any blues scale, simply play the minor pentatonic scale that begins on the same note and then add the b5, and you’ve got it!

It really helps when you can make associations like this when comparing scales. Let’s face it… we only have 12 different pitches. So, inevitably, there will be many similarities between the various scales that we will learn. Whenever the opportunity arises for us to associate one scale to another, this makes it easier for us to see a new scale for what it really is.

Again, you are highly encouraged to learn these scales in a number of different keys, as you confidence will absolutely soar as a result of doing so. As you become more and more technically in command of those keys, remember…

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave
www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com

12 Bar Blues Piano

12-Bar-Blues-PianoAs a cocktail piano player, you’ve just got to have a bit of a handle on playing some 12 bar blues piano. It’s a nice way to interrupt your routine with some tasteful variation. In addition, as you become more and more acquainted with playing blues piano, you’re sure to use some of that “bluesy” playing in your favorite standard songs, too.

Okay, let’s get started. If you’re going to play 12 bar blues piano, then you will, of course, want to get a handle on the basic form of the blues.

Here is the basic 12 bar blues form:

/  C7  /  C7  /  C7  /  C7  /

/  F7  /  F7  /  C7  /  C7  /

/  G7  /  F7  /  C7  /  C7  /

Above, we are illustrating the blues form in the key of C. However, you’ll want to get to know it in other keys as well. Okay, so let’s take a look at what we have there…

You’ll notice that we have three dominant 7th chords. They are:

C7, F7, and G7

This chord progression is commonly referred to as the I, IV, V progression since, based on the C Major scale, the C is the I, the F is the IV, and the G is the V. For other keys, use the same approach to coming up with the correct chords.

You’ll want to be able to play through the 12 bar blues at a nice slow tempo using some nice sounding blues piano chord voicings for these chords. Sure, you can use the basic form of these chords for now but you’ll soon want to know some great sounding voicings because, after a while, those straight 7th chords can sound a bit plain.

For now, go ahead and play through this chord progression with those chords using the left hand as you keep a nice slow, steady tempo. Once you are feeling comfortable doing this, let’s have some fun with that right hand as you start implementing the blues scale.

Now, an interesting thing about the blues scale is that, even though there is a corresponding blues scale for each root, when you are in the key of C, the C Blues scale works over the entire form.

Here is the C Blues scale:

C  Eb  F  Gb  G  Bb  C

Although you will feel compelled to play up and down that scale for a while, which you are encouraged to do, make it a point to stay musical with your ideas by using only bits and pieces of the blues scale and playing them in a rhythmical fashion. Start with just two notes, playing them back and forth. Then add another… then another… etc. Whatever you play, listen to your results and appreciate each step of the way.

Here is a nice application of some nice blues piano improvisation ideas and voicings by two jazz piano icons who have made their mark in the worlds of piano and jazz (They are playing the blues in the key of C… see if you can pick out those blues scale notes!):

As you have fun with the blues, remember…

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave
www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com