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Piano Lesson: Using The Blues Scale

You can start improvising with the help of the blues scale today. You will learn three easy left hand chords and how to use them in your improvisations.

We will use the key of G-major. The first chord to learn is a three finger chord for your left hand that is usually called G13. If we should stick to music theory too literally such a chord would consist of the following scale steps:

1 3 5 7b 9 11 13

In G-major this would be the notes:


That's theory, but the chord doesn't sound very nice actually! Normally you can keep the F, B and E. The root G will probably be played on a bass guitar or can just be omitted. Anyway, here is the G13 chord in a very common form:

G13: F3 B3 E4

The numbers indicate in which octave the notes are to be played. C4 is the so called middle C in the fourth octave.

I will now give you the blues scale. First only with the scale steps so you can apply the scale in any key:

1 3b 4 4# 5 7b

It can also be considered a G-minor pentatonic scale with a raised fourth added.

Here are the notes you can play and improvise upon as you hold the G13 chord with the left hand:

G4 Bb4 C5 C#5 D5 F5 G5

We will now take a look at the C9 chord. It is a fitting chord to change to from G13 and also easy to find:

C9: E3 Bb3 D4

It's time to construct a chord progression:

G13 / / / C9 / / /

The advantage of using the blues scale is that it can be used over many chords. We will now try to play a blues progression in G-major with this blues scale. We will need one more chord to construct a three chord blues. Here is the D9 chord:

D9: F#3 C4 D4

Now it's time to play the blues:

G13 / / / C9 / / / G13 / / / G13 / / /

C9 / / / C9 / / / G13 / / / G13 / / /

D9 / / / C9 / / / G13 / / / D9 / / /

Of course you can use notes in the blues scale higher up on the piano keyboard. However, an effective blues solo doesn't need a lot of notes. Try to use only a few notes and focus your energy on creating music.


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