The blues scale is one of the most popular scales used in music, particularly in blues and rock genres. It is a six-note scale that includes the root, flat third, fourth, flat fifth, fifth, and flat seventh of the major scale. In this article, we will take a closer look at what a blues scale is and how it’s used in music theory.

What Is a Scale?

Before we dive into the blues scale, let’s first define what a scale is. In music theory, a scale is a set of notes arranged in ascending or descending order based on their pitch. Scales are the foundation of melody and harmony in music.

Major Scale vs. Blues Scale

The major scale is perhaps the most well-known and commonly used scale in music theory. It consists of seven notes arranged in a specific pattern of whole steps (W) and half steps (H). The pattern for a major scale is W-W-H-W-W-W-H.

The blues scale, on the other hand, is derived from the major scale but includes an additional note – the flat fifth or “blue note”. The pattern for a blues scale is 1-b3-4-b5-5-b7-1.

The “Blue Note”

The flat fifth or “blue note” is what gives the blues its distinct sound. It’s called the blue note because it creates a sense of tension and release that’s often associated with blues music.

How to Use the Blues Scale

The blues scale can be used to solo over any song that’s in a minor key or has dominant seventh chords. In fact, many guitar players use the pentatonic version of the blues scale to solo over rock songs as well.

When using the blues scale to solo, it’s important to remember that it’s just one tool in your toolbox. You should also use other scales and techniques to add variety and interest to your solos.

Example of a Blues Scale

Here’s an example of a blues scale in the key of A:


The blues scale is an essential tool for any musician looking to play or write music in the blues or rock genre. By understanding its structure and how to use it, you can add depth and emotion to your playing. So go ahead, pick up your instrument, and start exploring the world of blues scales!