Hi I am doing grade 8 theory (Trinity).

I need a quick and easy way to remember/ know of how to build blues scales.



Take a natural minor, remove the 2nd and 6th degrees.

Add a sharpened 4th.

1 - b3 - 4 - #4 - 5 - b7

Tonic - Flattened Mediant - Sundominant - Sharpened Subdominant - Dominant - Flattened Leading Tone.


In terms of degrees of a given (Major) key the formulas are:

Minor Pentatonic: 1, b3, 4, 5, b7

Major Pentatonic: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6

This will get you the pentatonics in any key. The minor pentatonic is related to the major pentatonic the same way that a relative minor key (or scale) is related to a major key. Just start of the 6th degree. So, you create the first formula from the second as follows:

Relative Minor Pentatonic: 6, 1, 2, 3, 5

It is easy to check that this is the same result treating the 6 as 1. Think of C maj Pent and its relative minor A min Pent. An interesting note: All the major modes have the same major pentatonic, Ionian, Lydian, Mixolydian. Since we are removing the 4th and the 7th from the list of notes. The minor pentatonic fits over Aeolian, Dorian, and Phrygian.

As for blues, the traditional "blues" scale is the minor pentatonic with a flat 5 added,

Blues: 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7

Other answers have provided results in C or another key. I hope this formula in degrees is more general and helps.


There are two standard blues scales, major and minor.

Taking each, add one note to the pentatonics to produce the hexatonics.

C minor pent. is C E♭. F G B♭. Add G♭/F♯ and it's C min. blues.

C major pent. is C D E G A. Add D♯/E♭ and it's C maj. blues.

  • I miss the B♭ in C maj7 (as the flat 7 is essential for the blues: youtube.com/watch?v=2yzboutLwsI or do you mean the Cmajor pent is the blues scale in the key of A may be we are coming from different schools,Tim. I've studied in the sixties at swiss jazz school and this was the terminology of Berkley School in Boston. online.berklee.edu/handbooks – Albrecht Hügli Jan 17 at 12:34
  • @AlbrechtHügli - what I'm saying is there are two blues scales, major and minor. They work exactly like relative (English term) keys. C major/A minor. Pents and blues scales work in exactly the same relative way. In C major blues there is no bVII. Only in minor blues. So the relative of C maj blues has that bVII. The key is now A minor blues, with G (bVII). – Tim Jan 17 at 13:19

Which blues scale? I am assuming you mean the hexatonic blues minor scale. There are a number of ways.

1) Take the pentatonic minor scale:

C - E♭ - F - G - B♭

and add a sharpened fourth:

C - E♭ - F - F# - G - B♭

2) Take natural minor:

C - D - E♭ - F - G - A♭ - B♭

and remove the second and sixth degrees, and then add a sharpened fourth:

C - E♭ - F - F# - G - B♭

  • Then what would you do if it was major? – Ethan Jarrott Jan 17 at 0:59
  • @EthanJarrott, the hexatonic major blues scale is pentatonic major with a sharpened second (C-D-E-G-A and C-D-D#-E-G-A, respectively). – Pyromonk Jan 17 at 2:28
  • @EthanJarrott - more usually, blues scales have flattened notes, not sharpened ones. So C maj blues will be spelled C D Eb E G A - the same notes, actually, as A minor blues. Jazzers tend to think in terms of #4 rather than b5. – Tim Jan 17 at 9:13
  • @Tim, good point. I tend to forget. I mostly play jazz these days. Thank you. – Pyromonk Jan 17 at 10:45

You may know the blues line for the bass: do mi so la ta la so mi (ta=b7) for the I7.

Mind that the blue notes are b3 b5 b7 (the major 7 is replaced by the b7, the minor 3 and dim. 5th can be added to the 3 and 5 of the ionic scale)


advice: remind some "blues" titles from which you will always be able to develop the blues scale.

  • This answer is confused and confusing! – Tim Jan 17 at 11:06

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