• Blues Piano Scales, Chords, And Chord Progressions For Beginners

    in Beginners,Blues music,Chords & Progressions,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    A lot of people are under the impression that Blues piano is NOT for beginners.

    If you’re a beginner on this page, I have good news for you: you can play Blues piano at your own skill level and all it takes is for you to learn and master the scales, chords, and progressions.

    Although you may not be doing some of the stylistic elements that are associated with the style or be able to improvise and get a standing ovation in a Jazz concert; what you’re about to learn is sufficient enough to get you started.

    Attention: If you’re way past the Beginner’s level and would want to take your jazz playing to the next level, the best thing you can do right now is to check out this amazing collection.

    Alright, there’s a handful of things to learn, so, let’s get started with the scales.

    Blues Piano Scales

    Scales are the sources of both melodic lines (like licks, runs, riffs, etc) and harmonic materials (like chords, patterns, progressions, etc.)

    Suffice it to say that the scales for Blues piano cannot be exhausted in this particular lesson because there are a variety of them. However, we’re starting out with three scales you must not be without as a beginner Blues pianist.

    Attention: Keep in mind that the scales we’re covering in this segment are in reference to the key of C major.

    Scale #1 — “The Minor Pentatonic Blues Scale”

    The C minor pentatonic Blues scale:

    …is a classic example of the minor pentatonic Blues scale which is simply known as the Blues scale.

    The Blues scale is the foundation of Blues music and it has three Blue notes:

    Eb (the b3):

    Gb (the b5):

    Bb (the b7):

    The Blues scale is versatile and is compatible with tons of chords because it consists of the first, fourth, and fifth tones, and then blue notes.

    Scale #2 — “The Mixolydian Scale”

    The Mixolydian scale is one of the modal scale that are commonly used in Jazz.

    According to those who associate it with the major scale, lowering the seventh tone of the major scale by a half-step produces the Mixolydian scale.

    So, the C Mixolydian scale can be associated with the C major scale:

    Lowering the seventh tone of the C major scale (which is B):

    …by a half-step (to Bb):

    …produces the C Mixolydian scale:

    There are three Mixolydian scales you need to know to play Blues Piano in the key of C major:

    C Mixolydian scale:

    F Mixolydian scale:

    G Mixolydian scale:

    …and they are compatible with the 1-chord, 4-chord, and 5-chord respectively.

    Scale #3 — “The Major Pentatonic Blues Scale”

    The major pentatonic Blues scale is one of my favorite scales and I’m very certain that you’d love it as well.

    Adding a blue note — specifically the b3 (which is Eb):

    …to the C major pentatonic scale:

    …produces the C major pentatonic blues scale:

    Learn the following major pentatonic Blues scales:

    C major pentatonic Blues scale:

    F major pentatonic Blues scale:

    G major pentatonic Blues scale:

    …for the 1-chord, 4-chord, and 5-chord in the key of C major

    Blues Piano Chords

    The harmony of Blues music is not usually sophisticated.

    The chords used are basically major triads and dominant seventh chords and although minor, extended, and altered chords are used by modern players, the chords associated with Blues piano are major triads and dominant seventh chords.

    Chord #1 — “The Major Triad”

    The main triad quality used across a variety of Blues songs is the major triad and it is the 1-chord, 4-chord, and 5-chord in the major key.

    In the key of C major:

    …the following major triads should be learned:

    C major triad:

    F major triad:

    G major triad:

    As you progress, you’ll learn chromatic major chords (like the Eb and Bb major triads) and how they are applied in Blues music.

    Chord #2 — “The Dominant Seventh Chord”

    The dominant seventh chord is the characteristic harmony of the Blues — make no mistakes about it.

    A lot of Blues tunes are populated with dominant seventh chords and in the key of C major:

    …I’m talking about the following chords:

    C dominant seventh chord:

    F dominant seventh chord:

    G dominant seventh chord:

    …which can function as the 1-chord, 4-chord, and 5-chord.

    Once you learn these dominant seventh chords, you’re good to go!

    Blues Piano Chord Progressions

    The classic 12 bar Blues progression is one of the most popular progressions of the 20th century and it spanned beyond Blues into Jazz and even influenced traditional Gospel music.

    In addition to the 12 bar Blues progression, we’ll also learn the 1-4 chord progression that’s simple enough for you to get started with.

    Chord Progression #1 — “The 12 Bar Blues Chord Progression”

    Blues music has a classic 12-bar structure and it’s on 4/4 time.

    What this means is that you’ll count four beats per bar and there are a total of 12 bars that I’ll be breaking down to you.

    Here are the twelve bars:

    1 | 2 | 3 |  4 | 5 |  6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 |

    …with four counts each and here are the bass notes:

    C| C | C | C | F | F | C | C | G | F  | C | G |

    …which implies the following chords:

    C maj| C maj | C maj | C maj | F maj | F maj | C maj | C maj | G maj | F maj | C maj | G maj |

    …and the following dominant seventh chords:

    C dom7| C dom7 | C dom7 | C dom7| F dom7 | F dom7 | C dom7 | C dom7 | G dom7 | F dom7 | C dom7 | G dom7 |

    Using the major triads and dominant seventh chords we covered in the last segment, I’m doubly sure you can play the 12 bar Blues chord progression.

    Submission: Although there are many variations of the 12 bar blues progression, what we covered is generally accepted as the standard.

    Chord Progression #2 — “The 1-4 Chord Progression”

    The 1-4 chord progressions entails two chords in the key: the 1-chord and the 4-chord.

    Using the triads we learned in the last segment, here’s the 1-4 chord progression:



    …and it gets a lot better with dominant seventh chords:



    Final Words

    Have you heard about the Jazz and Salsa Digital Collection?

    If you’re interested in learning( through video courses) how the scales, chords, and progressions we just covered (and tons of others) can be mastered and applied, then you really have to grab the Jazz and Salsa Digital Collection as fast as possible.

    See you in the next lesson.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.


    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 five nights at freddy's

    Thanks for sharing this quality information with us. I really enjoyed reading.


    2 Musical Instru

    You really nailed it. I’m really happy that I came across to your site and since I have came here, I am learning a lot.

    It is truly helpful for the beginers.Running a musical instrument site, I am grateful that your posts are helping me out.

    Keep shining.


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