B-flat blues scale

The Solution below shows the Bb blues scale, on the piano, treble clef and bass clef.

Since the key of Bb appears on the Circle of fifths diagram as both a major and minor key, the Lesson steps explain both ways of constructing this blues scale for this key:

The 1st construction, using the major scale, starts at Lesson 3.

The 2nd construction, using the minor pentatonic scale, starts at Lesson 6.

For a quick summary of this topic, have a look at Blues scale.

Keys in the blues scale
KeyCC#DbDD#EbEFF#GbGG#AbAA#[Bb]BCb

Solution

1. B-flat blues scale

This step shows the B-flat blues scale on the piano, treble clef and bass clef. There are 6 blues scale notes plus the octave of the tonic note - a total of 7 notes.

The B-flat blues scale has 4 flats.

B-flat blues scale note names
Note no.Note name
1The 1st note of the B-flat blues scale is Bb
2The 2nd note of the B-flat blues scale is Db
3The 3rd note of the B-flat blues scale is Eb
4The 4th note of the B-flat blues scale is E
5The 5th note of the B-flat blues scale is F
6The 6th note of the B-flat blues scale is Ab
7The 7th note of the B-flat blues scale is Bb

B-flat blues scale

Middle C (midi note 60) is shown with an orange line under the 2nd note on the piano diagram.

These note names are shown below on the treble clef followed by the bass clef.

B-flat blues scale

B-flat blues scale

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

Lesson steps

1. Piano key note names

This step shows the white and black note names on a piano keyboard so that the note names are familiar for later steps, and to show that the note names start repeating themselves after 12 notes.

The white keys are named using the alphabetic letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, which is a pattern that repeats up the piano keyboard.

Every white or black key could have a flat(b) or sharp(#) accidental name, depending on how that note is used. In a later step, if sharp or flat notes are used, the exact accidental names will be chosen.

Sharp and flat note names

The audio files below play every note shown on the piano above, so middle C (marked with an orange line at the bottom) is the 2nd note heard.

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

2. B-flat tonic note and one octave of notes

This step shows an octave of notes in the key of B-flat, to identify the start and end notes of the scale.

The numbered notes are those that might be used when building this note scale.

Note 1 is the tonic note - the starting note - Bb, and note 13 is the same note name but one octave higher.

B-flat chromatic scale-1 octave of notes

B-flat chromatic scale-1 octave of notes
No.12345678910111213
NoteBbBCC# / DbDD# / EbEFF# / GbGG# / AbABb
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

3. B-flat major scale note interval positions

This step describes the Bb major scale , which is necessary to build the blues scale in a later step.

The major scale uses the  W-W-H-W-W-W-H  note counting rule to identify the scale note positions.

To count up a Whole tone, count up by two physical piano keys, either white or black.

To count up a Half-tone (semitone), count up from the last note up by one physical piano key, either white or black.

The tonic note (shown as *) is the starting point and is always the 1st note in the major scale.

B-flat major scale note positions

Again, the final 8th note is the octave note, having the same name as the tonic note.
B-flat major scale note positions
No.12345678
NoteBbCDD# / EbFGABb
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

4. B-flat major scale notes

This step assigns note names to the major scale note positions identified in the previous step.

Having identified the piano keys that make up this major scale, this step shows the note names of those keys.

B-flat major scale
No.12345678
NoteBbCDEbFGABb

B-flat major scale

To understand why these sharp and flat note names have chosen given the note positions from the previous step, have a look at the Bb major scale.

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

5. B-flat blues scale from the B-flat major scale

This step shows the 6 blues scale notes constructed using the major scale of the same key.

Structure

The blues scale is made from the 1st, flattened 3rd, 4th, flattened 5th, 5th and flattened 7th notes from the major scale above. The 2nd and 6th notes of the major scale are not used.

To flatten a note, just replace it with the piano key lower in pitch ie. lower down the piano.

The flattened 5th is the blue note that gives the blues scale its distinctive sound in this key. So for this major scale, the 5th note of the major scale is flattened from F to E to make the blue note.

Below are those notes numbered 1 to 6 on the piano keyboard.

The 7th note is the octave of the tonic note, where the pattern begins to repeat itself.

B-flat blues scale from the B-flat major scale
No.1234567
NoteBbDbEbEFAbBb

B-flat blues scale

Note name simplification

Wherever possible, complex note names from the major scale are simplified to arrive at the final blues scale notes.

For example, in the Gb blues scale, the 4th note of the major scale Cb is simplified to be note B.

This is done because blues (and pentatonic scales) do not follow the 'usual' music theory rules that hold for diatonic scales, such as major and all minor varieties, which state that each note from A..G can only be used once in the scale.

For the blues scale, the half-step / semitone closeness of notes around the 4th and 5th notes usually mean it is inevitable that a note name will be used twice in the scale, so it makes sense to use the chromatic scale names for all notes.

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

6. B-flat natural minor scale notes

This step shows the Bb natural minor scale scale notes, on which the minor pentatonic scale is based.

The next 3 steps (including this one), show how the natural minor scale is used as a basis for the minor pentatonic scale, which in turn is used to construct the blues scale in this key.

B-flat natural minor scale
No.12345678
NoteBbCDbEbFGbAbBb

B-flat natural minor scale

To understand why this scale has these sharp and flat note names, have a look at the Bb natural minor scale.

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

7. B-flat minor pentatonic scale notes

This step shows the Bb minor pentatonic scale scale notes, on which the blues scale is based.

The minor pentatonic scale is made from the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th notes from the natural minor scale above.

B-flat minor pentatonic scale
No.123456
NoteBbDbEbFAbBb

B-flat minor pentatonic scale

To understand why this scale has these sharp and flat note names, have a look at the Bb minor pentatonic scale.

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

8. B-flat blues scale from the B-flat minor pentatonic scale

This step shows the 6 blues scale notes constructed using the minor pentatonic scale of the same key.

To construct the blues scale from the minor pentatonic scale in the previous step, take the 4th note of that scale(note F), flatten it, and insert it before the 4th note position of the same scale. This note E is the blue note that gives the blues scale its distinctive sound in this key.

Another way to identify the blue note is to take the 5th note of the natural minor scale from 2 steps above, (which is the same as note 4 as the minor pentatonic scale), and flatten it.

Yet another (more complex) way to identify the blue note is to take the Diminished 5th note interval based the tonic note - Bb-dim-5th.

B-flat blues scale
No.1234567
NoteBbDbEbEFAbBb

B-flat blues scale

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3