I often call the blues scale and the pentatonic scale “functionally equivalent,” but what does that mean, exactly?

Today I’ll tell you about it and why you might want to keep them separate when you practice.

    3 replies to "Pentatonic Vs. Blues Scale"

    • Yoag

      Just to be a curmudgeon: I love Griff’s theory sessions, especially the recent ones on what the blues scale really is. After thinking about it for some time, it struck me that the notes of the Am pentatonic scale are also the second (Modern Dorian) mode of the B flat major scale. I recall reading about blues harmony many years ago and the author spoke about taking the flat 7th as the root. Could it be that blues players are actually playing in plain old B flat major or perhaps B flat major Dorian (which should sound minor)? I have been hacking around with the idea by treating B flat as the root note (tonal center) and playing in plain old B flat major over a standard 12 bar blues backing track in A. Sounds passably Ok and odd enough to be of passing interest. Anyone tried it? Is it this is a real thing?

    • Paul Smith

      I can see that in the Am scale the note C is a minor third from the root note A, but I find it odd that it is referred to as a flatted third and not simply referred to as the note C. As I see it, C is the 3rd degree of the Am scale so referring to it as a flatted third makes me think it must actually be the note B (C flat). I get it, just not sure why we don’t just call it a plain old C?

      • John Darr

        The way I see it is you need to have a standardized way of naming notes, or it gets confusing.

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