I know that progressions based on the chords E7,A7 and B7 form the basic rhythm guitar section of a blues song. These chords dont seem to strictly lie on the blues scale. Why do these chords harmonize well with the blues scale. How are they constructed from the scale?

  • I think these two questions answer your question: music.stackexchange.com/q/5991/104 and music.stackexchange.com/q/1024/104
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Jul 29, 2013 at 18:34
  • "All the notes in a dominant 7 chord can be found in a major blues scale, 1,3,5, and b7 (in E: E,G#,B, D)." Exactly what blues scale are you using? The Hexatonic Major Blues Scale pattern is: Root, Whole-step, Half-step, Half-step, Whole-and-Half-step, Whole-step, Whole-and-half step. For an E scale, that gives you E, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab, B, C#, and back to E. So where does the "D" come from? Aug 14, 2017 at 2:16
  • It should not be assumed that all those chords are dominant seventh chords. Many accompaniments treat them as plain major chords. In fact using plain major chords can help make I7 in bar four of 12-bar blues more effective, like this I - IV - I - I7. Aug 14, 2017 at 14:29

2 Answers 2


The Blues is interesting in that there is no one scale for the whole progression. Each chord within the progression will use a blues scale starting on its root. So E7 would be and E major blues, A7 would be A major blues etc. All the notes in a dominant 7 chord can be found in a major blues scale, 1,3,5, and b7 (in E: E,G#,B, D). The strangest part of the scale is the addition of the note b3/#9 (in E: G natural). b3 Would be used in a minor chord and would usually not have a place in a major chord. This distinctive tone is often referred to as the "Blue Note". The strangest part about the style of music is that a dominant chord is your tonic. This sounds weird because traditionally a dominant chord is used to get back to tonic. Similarly, since all the chords are dominant all of your progression/resolution brings you to another dissonant place. Blues probably would have driven Bach crazy waiting for "proper" resolution. I find that blues doesn't seem so strange now as it was when they first started because there is much less emphasis on traditional resolutions in modern music.

  • Blue Note: there are three possible blue notes: b3, #4/b5 aka tritone, and b7. You have the idea though, but in blues we have to pay tribute to the string instruments (traditionally guitar, banjo, and fiddle) that can bend notes in addition to the blue notes, also the horns, trombones, harmonicas, vocals, sax too that can bend notes. Bending notes by more and less than a half step too.
    – filzilla
    Jul 31, 2013 at 0:00
  • Absolutely agree. I tried to answer specific to the progression and found myself wanting to add more about minor blues. Jul 31, 2013 at 0:07
  • There is NO D featured in the major blues scale of E. The notes generally accepted are - E, F#, G, G#, B C#. So, the notes from E dominant 7th, as you say, E G# B D won't ALL be found within this scale. And, oft times, the underlying chords for a tune using major blues notes will NOT be dom. 7ths - simply because of the dissonance. Those 7ths are far more likely to be used under minor blues notes. Which DO contain the sought after D.
    – Tim
    Aug 14, 2017 at 7:39
  • As @Tim said this post is wrong about the dominant seventh chord and the major blues scale. Aug 14, 2017 at 14:25
  • I looked this up a little because I honestly did not think that was the case. It turns out there are a few different types of blues scales. I've described the Heptatonic Blues Scale, while you are referring to the Hexatonic Blues Scale. I'll try to update my answer to clarify this. Aug 15, 2017 at 14:14

Blues approach: from chordnote to chordnote

Descending: Notes triad (vertical) mixed with (horizontal) descending (doubled) appoggiaturas : C Bes A (As) G // G Fis F E // E Es D (Des) C ( rem. Bes here is not a vertical chord note!)

Ascending: Notes triad (vertical) mixed with ascending (doubled)appoggiaturas: C D Dis E // E F Fis G // G (As) A C

-Transpose same principle for other degrees IV / V -Chordnote=>appoggiaturas=horizontal motion=>resolution=chordnote

-Chordnote + appoggiatura sounds very bluesy together!

-Almost each scale fits in this approach but you will play motifs and not scales;

  • 1
    Welcome to Music.SE! This answer, along with your other recent answer, has interesting information, but is a little difficult to understand. Although spelling and grammar are not as important as content, your posts might communicate better with other readers if they are laid out in a more conventional way. Jul 3, 2015 at 23:11

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