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Get to Know the Blues (Part 1 Basic Pentatonic Melodies)

by Mike Lindyn
www.GuitarKnowledgenet.com ©2004

There has been no other style of music in the past hundred years that has had a bigger effect on music as a whole than the blues. The Blues scale is based off a 5-note scale called the Pentatonic scale (below is an example of the Blues and Pentatonic scales shown rooted from the note G).

What we will be looking at today is the basis of blues melodies; the Pentatonic scale and the Blues scale. The Pentatonic scale has a formula of 1 – b3 - 4- 5 –b7, the difference between the Blues scale and the Pentatonic scale is that a #4 (#11) is added to the Blues scale creating a 3-note chromatic movement between the b3rd and the 5th. The #4 is an unstable note in this scale and is usually used as a passing tone. We will look at examples that use the #4 in a later lesson, today we will just look at a few melody lines that are based off Pentatonic scales.

It is important to understand the relationship between the Pentatonic scale, the Major scale, and the Major scale’s modes. To learn more about this relationship go to in to the Lesson Zone and read the lesson called “Pentatonic’s Relationship to Major”. As I said before the #4 is usually used as a passing tone in Blues melody lines, but once you know the relationship between Pentatonic scales and the mode of the Major scale you can also use notes from the major scale as passing tones for the Pentatonic scale as well.

The ideas here are all pretty basic, but I’ve given a few cool licks to get you started. Notice that all the licks contain bends, bends and vibrato are very important to getting tha5t “blues” sound.

    1) G Pentatonic Scale

        Example 


2) G Blues Scale Form 1

        Example 


3)A Blues

        Example  

4) G Pentatonic

        Example 


5) A Pentatonic

Example

We will continue looking at the blues and it's relationationship to the Pentatonic scale and the modes of the Major scale. We will also look deeper into blues melodies and start to look into blues harmony soon. In the mean time make sure to read the lesson on Pentatonic realationship to the Major scale in the Lesson Zone.


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