The definition for blues scale says the fifth pitch is diminished, but you can see almost everywhere that some sources says it is diminished 5th and augmented 4th. Are these "additional" scales strictly defined? Is it exactly diminished 5th, or for simplifying notation is it whatever depending on melody lines? Is that the same case as Dflat is not Csharp?

  • 3
    The spelling really just depends which way you're going. If you're going up the scale, it's a #4. If down the scale, b5. Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 23:42
  • Blues usually calls it b5. Lydian calls it #4.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 5:16
  • Related - 'the tritone - is it a #4 or a b5?'
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 8:27

1 Answer 1


I'm expanding on jjmusicnotes's answer in the comments, though with a slightly different answer.

Wherever possible, it's a good general rule to only have one of each pitch name in a scale. In the G Major scale, for instance, the last two pitches are not Gb and G, but rather F# and G; having two types of G in the first instance gets thorny really quickly, and since you have an F to use up, you may as well make that pitch F#.

That's basically what's happening in this C blues scale:

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It wouldn't really be incorrect if you use Gb, but it's easy to see why F# would be so much easier sometimes:

enter image description here

Isn't that first measure much easier to deal with than the second one? They're both exactly the same, just spelled differently.

jjmusicnotes said to use F# when you're going up the scale, Gb when you're doing down. But sometimes that direction isn't really clear, so I'd recommend just sticking with F# (or, more generally, the raised fourth scale degree).

  • Actually, jjmusicnotes said the opposite of what you wrote here - to use F# going up the scale and Gb going down (not Gb going up and F# going down as you have it). But apart from that oversight, good answer!
    – hopper
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 2:04
  • A convincing case, but more often than not, there wouldn't be a phrase like that...
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 18:30

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