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I have learned the Blues scale as 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7.

I'm looking at a chart "Stolen Moments" (in the RealBook) and it says to solo on C Minor Blues.

Is the minor blues the same as the Blues as I've described above? So the notes would be: C, Eb, F, Gb, G, Bb, C

Or is there a minor version of this scale?

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    That's the common minor blues scale. For reference, the major blues would be 1, 2, b3, 3, 5, 6.
    – Phoenix
    Dec 2, 2019 at 18:39
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    That IS the minor version!
    – Tim
    Dec 2, 2019 at 18:44

3 Answers 3

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Officially, yes. It gets credence as it features in some music exams. Cm blues scale contains the notes C E♭ F G♭ G and B♭

That ♭5 is better known in jazz circles as ♯4, but for all intents and purposes it sounds like the same note.

I think the problem arises because the Blues often gets to be played with other notes - notably those of the major Blues scale. And, of course, several micro notes which appear mainly on guitar or sax that cannot be defined using 12tet.

So, to pigeon-hole it, we can say it contains only the notes first quoted.

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  • Doesn't #4 make more sense functionally?
    – MCMastery
    Dec 3, 2019 at 3:40
  • @MCMastery - not particularly. There's a b3, b5 and b7. Although jazzers seem to prefer #4.
    – Tim
    Dec 3, 2019 at 16:51
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    In a run up the scale, I'd much prefer it notated as F♯ rather than G♭ to avoid writing G♮ for the 5th degree. Depends on context, obviously.
    – user45266
    Dec 3, 2019 at 19:06
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    @user45266 - 99% of the time, that note is played in real music, rather than as part of a scale. It's only the academic side that somehow needs to pigeon-hole it. More often than not, when I play the note, I don't even give it a consideration as far as what it might be called! And if it's blues or jazz, I feel the players will think likewise.
    – Tim
    Dec 3, 2019 at 19:10
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The problem is that the term "Blues Scale" is used in more than one context.

Some sources quote the "Blues scale" as the Major pentatonic with a b3 added while other simply equate Blues with the scale you have given above, minor pentatonic with a #4.

In the context you have provided I think the scale you have described is the minor Blues scale.

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When musicians talk about the "blues scale", they could mean either the major blues scale or the minor blues scale. Starting on C, C D D♯(E♭) E G A is the major blues scale, and C E♭ F F♯(G♭) G B♭ is the minor blues scale. Note that both are modifications of their respective pentatonic scales, with one note added in.

As for why the minor blues scale sometimes gets called "the blues scale", that's probably because it can be played over both major and minor blues songs, whereas playing the major blues scale over a minor blues song sounds unidiomatic to the blues genre.

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  • I wish I could mark two answers as correct, as I also like this answer. Thank you!
    – PatS
    Jan 31, 2022 at 20:23

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