Which blues scale goes with which chord voicing? For example, Dm7 (D,F,A,C) does not go with the D pentatonic minor blues scale. So what scales go with Dm7? And then accordingly, which go with DM7 (D major 7th)? And how does one figure this out?

Edit: I previously had "Dm7 (D,F,A,B)" written as a typo, which I have now corrected to "D,F,A,C".

  • Dm7 = D,F,A,C, all of which belong in D min. blues. – Tim Oct 31 '15 at 8:00
  • @Tim, but it doesn't sound right – J D Oct 31 '15 at 8:00
  • That chord make up gives Dm6, which won't really fit D min. blues. Unless the B is really a German Bb, which won't sound good at all. – Tim Oct 31 '15 at 8:06
  • @Tim, Sorry, that was actually a typo, I intended to type C, not B in that Dm7 chord. – J D Nov 1 '15 at 17:28

A couple of additional notes that might help answer your question:

The "blues scale" was developed to to play one set of notes over all the chords in a twelve bar blues, so the blues scale based on A minor pentatonic is played over a twelve bar blues starting on A7, even though the major third does not technically occur in the scale (this is why chords with a sharp 9 sound bluesy). In general, either minor pentatonic or the blues scale can be played over dominant 7 chords to achieve a blues feel, although this may not be appropriate depending on the context.

More generally the pentatonic scale, in it's various inversions, can fit over a large number of chords. A good rule of thumb is that whatever key you're in you can construct melodies using the major pentatonic scales starting on the first, fourth or fifth degrees. Notice that the blues usage of the minor pentatonic actually falls outside of this rule, and thus provides a fourth possibility.

To answer your final question, associating scales with chords is a complex subject that can vary with different styles. Typically, though, it depends on the function of the chord, so if a Dm7 is being used as the ii in a ii-V-i you'd play dorian, which would be the same notes as the C Major scale (so, in pentatonic terms, you could use notes from C, F, or G pentatonic).


First of all, Dm7 has no B but a C (as already pointed out in a comment by Tim):

Dm7: D F A C

The D minor pentatonic scale clearly fits over a Dm7 chord, because it contains all chord tones and it adds one note (the G), which is a cool-sounding tension on Dm7 (the 11).

Note that the D minor pentatonic scale is not the only pentatonic scale you can play over a Dm7 chord. You could also try the A minor pentatonic scale (implying a Dm9 sound) or the E minor pentatonic scale (for a dorian sound).

Over a Dmaj7 chord you can obviously play the D major pentatonic scale:

D E F# A B

which has the same notes as the B minor pentatonic scale. Also here you have other choices, such as the A major (F# minor) pentatonic scale (emphasizing the maj7 sound), or the E major (C# minor) pentatonic scale, which gives you a lydian sound (it includes the #11, the G#).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.