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It's my understanding that for the diatonic scales, there's a consensus of which fingerings are optimal for most people. They are not a hard rule, some pianists use other fingerings, but they are still recommended and presented as a great starting point. Something like this.

Because of this, if you search for diatonic scale fingerings, 99% of the time you'll find the exact same fingerings everywhere. They tend to work really well for most people.

Is there something similar for the minor and major blues scales? Which are the recommended fingerings for a complete run through these scales?

  • This pdf covers all 12 scales pretty well should give you a good idea what to use as does this site. – Dom Apr 30 '15 at 0:52
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    Hopefully a more experienced pianist will have an answer for you. I personally just view them as major/minor with the extra passing tone when I play it so my fingering is derived from that unlike the other two (which even they are slightly different) so there may not be a standard fingering for them. – Dom Apr 30 '15 at 1:06
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Briefly, for the uninitiated, the blues scale is:

1 b3 4 #4(b5) 5 b7 (1 ...)

I'm not aware of a standard fingering for the blues scale in the same sense that there's a standard for the diatonic scales. But here are the guidelines I use:

  • When possible, use 1 on the white keys and 3 (my preference) or 2 on the black keys. (pattern "A")
  • When that doesn't work, use 1-2-3-1-2-3 (pattern "B") (This is mostly for scales having consecutive black keys.)

Here are the keys I use with each pattern:

A: C  C#/Db  D         E     F#/Gb  G         A  
B:              D#/Eb     F            G#/Ab     A#/Bb  B

And the complete fingering chart (Key: Fingering [Pattern]):

C      1 3 1 3 1 3 1 [A]

C#/Db  3 1 3 1 3 1 3 [A]

D      1 3 1 3 1 3 1 [A]

D#/Eb  1 2 3 1 2 3 1 [B]

E      1 3 1 3 1 3 1 [A]

F      1 2 3 1 2 3 1 [B]

F#/Gb  3 1 3 1 3 1 3 [A]

G      1 3 1 3 1 3 1 [A]

G#/Ab  1 2 3 1 2 3 1 [B]

A      1 3 1 3 1 3 1 [A]

A#/Bb  1 2 3 1 2 3 1 [B]

B      1 2 3 1 2 3 1 [B]
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Instead of learning the "best" or "correct" fingering for every different scale, I think it's better to learn some general principles, and then work out the details for yourself.

  1. The repeated pattern of fingers is 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 - but not necessarily starting on 1, because ....
  2. Don't use your thumb on the black keys.
  3. With the right hand, use your thumb on the note AFTER a black key for a scale going up, and the note BEFORE a black key for a scale going down. This makes it easier to pass the thumb under the fingers.
  4. For the left hand, use the mirror image of #3 above.
  5. If the above principles still leave you with a choice of fingering, use your thumb on the most important note(s) of the scale, for example on the key note or on the main beats in the bar.

You will find most "fingering charts" agree with those general principles, but they often give alternative fingerings which are just as good as the one option shown on a chart, and may be more useful when the scale passage is part of a piece and not just a technical exercise.

Just as a historical note, there is a consensus about this for modern keyboard technique for all types of music, but historically scales were fingered very differently. For example in the 16th century the standard fingering for the right hand going up was 2 3 2 3 2 3 4 - i.e. no thumb and 5th finger at all! In the 18th century, right hand scales were fingered similar to the modern method, the left hand scales down were often fingered 1 2 1 2 1 2 3.

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