• A Smarter Way To Transpose The Minor Pentatonic Blues Scale

    in Blues music,Piano,Scales,Theory,Transposing Keys

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    Who else needs a smarter way to transpose the minor pentatonic blues scale?

    Who else is tired of having difficulty while trying to move the minor pentatonic blues scale from one key to another?

    Who else wants to figure out the minor pentatonic blues scale of any key on the piano in 5 seconds or less?

    If you said to any or all of the questions above, then this lesson is for you. I’ll be showing you one of the fascinating tools I used to conquer the difficulty of transposing the minor pentatonic blues scale to all twelve keys.

    A Note On Blues Music

    Let’s get started with this study by looking at the blues tradition and its unique scale.

    A Background Information On Blues Music

    The cultural origin of blues music is from Afro-Americans who live in the southern part of the United States of America.

    The earliest blues musicians of the 19th century used it as a medium of expressing sadness (melancholy.) This explains why the blues has its characteristic slow but energetic and dramatic nature that distinguishes it from other related styles like jazz and gospel.

    Blues music began as vocal music before the introduction of instruments like the banjo, guitar, piano, etc., and has a unique 12-bar form.

    The influences of blues music can be seen in several popular music styles like rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, jazz, R & B, etc.

    Suggested Reading: Jazz Blues Form, Bass-Lines, Licks, And Crossover Licks.

    The Blue Notes

    The practitioners of the blues because of their African descent sometimes used notes [based on the African scale and tuning system] that practically sounded out-of-tune because they sound slightly lower than the normal pitches on instruments like the piano and guitar.

    Those notes are known as blue notes. They were used to express melancholy, create a dramatic effect, etc., and made the singer sound worried.

    Here are the blue notes in any major key:

    • b3
    • b5
    • b7

    In the key of C:

    …the pitch of the blue notes are closely related to Eb, Gb, and Bb:

    …which are the b3, b5, and the b7 notes respectively.

    The Blues Scale

    The blues scale is the characteristic scale that is used in blues music. Here’s a typical blues scale in the key of C:

    In addition to the blue notes:

    …which are the b3, b5, and the b7 tones of the major scale, the blue scale contains the 1st, 4th, and 5th:

    …tones of the major scale.

    Although the blues scale is used in the major key, it fits in perfectly into the minor key. The distance (aka – “interval”) between the first and third tone of the minor pentatonic blues scale is a minor third.

    Using the C minor pentatonic blues scale:

    …as an example, you can see that the interval between the first and the third tone (C and Eb respectively):

    …is a minor third interval.

    Besides that, the blues scale and the minor pentatonic scale are closely related. The difference between the C blues scale:

    …and the C minor pentatonic scale:

    …is the Gb note:

    Notwithstanding the relationship between the minor pentatonic blues scale and the minor key, it (the blues scale) is used in the major key. The mixture of tonalities (major and minor) results in an unpleasant relationship between notes (dissonance.)

    If I show you the blues scale in all 12 keys, you’ll either memorize them or print this page out and use it as a reference. However, I want to show you a smarter way to play the blues scale on the keyboard in a flash.

    Let’s explore how the blues scale can be played in any key.

    A Short Note On Transposition

    The term transposition literally means a transfer of position. The concept of transposition helps in the movement of an idea (be it a scale, interval, chord, chord-progression, or song) from one key to the other.

    Having covered the blues scale in the key of C, we’re faced with the challenge of transposing it to other keys.

    The Challenges Of Transposing The Blues Scale

    One of the reasons why it may not be easy to transpose the blues scale is because it consists of the b3, b5, and the b7 tones – which are foreign to the key we’re in.

    Technically speaking, you’ll need to learn the blue notes in all twelve keys before you can have an idea of the blue scale and trust me, it’s no mean feat.

    If you have been through the difficulties of learning and memorizing the major scale in all twelve keys, you’ll know exactly how difficult it is to learn the blue notes in every key on the keyboard.

    But the good news is that I don’t want you to go through all that difficulty and that’s because there’s something I’ll show you that will help you to transpose the minor pentatonic scale to any key.

    A Smarter Way To Transpose The Minor Pentatonic Blues Scale

    It’s easier to transpose the minor pentatonic blues scale if you’re familiar with the minor seventh chord in all twelve keys.

    Suggested reading: Minor Seventh Chord.

    Time will fail us to cover the definition, breakdown and formation of the minor seventh chord, therefore, I recommend that you follow the suggested reading above to learn more.

    Here are the minor seventh chords in all twelve keys…

    C minor seventh chord:

    C# minor seventh chord:

    D minor seventh chord:

    Eb minor seventh chord:

    E minor seventh chord:

    F minor seventh chord:

    F# minor seventh chord:

    G minor seventh chord:

    G# minor seventh chord:

    A minor seventh chord:

    Bb minor seventh chord:

    B minor seventh chord:

    “How Does The Transposition Using The Minor Seventh Chord Work?”

    We’re almost there!

    If you place the C minor seventh chord:

    …and the C minor pentatonic blues scale:

    …side by side:

    …you can clearly see similarities:

    …in terms of both them having C, Eb, G, and Bb. You can also see differences between both the both of them and that’s the F and Gb notes:

    …present in the minor pentatonic blues scale, but absent in the minor seventh chord.

    Therefore the minor seventh chord consists of 66% of the number of notes in the minor pentatonic blues scale. Therefore our responsibility now is to figure out the remaining 33% and that’s quite easy.

    “Here’s How To Transpose The Minor Pentatonic Scale To A New Key In 3 Steps”

    Step 1 – Determine the key.

    Step 2 – Form a minor seventh chord in that key.

    Step 3 – Add the fourth and augmented fourth tone to the minor seventh chord.

    “Let’s take two examples…”

    Example #1 – Transposition Of The Minor Pentatonic Blues Scale To G

    Step 1 – Determine the key

    The key is G:

    Step 2 – Form a minor seventh chord in that key

    The G minor seventh chord:

    …produces 66% of the G minor pentatonic blues scale.

    Step 3 – Add the fourth and augmented fourth tone to the minor seventh chord

    The fourth and augmented fourth (aka – “raised fourth”) tones in the key of G major are C and C#:

    …respectively.

    Addition of C and C#:

    …to the regular G minor seventh chord:

    …produces the G minor pentatonic blues scale:

    Example #2 – Transposition Of The Minor Pentatonic Blues Scale To Bb

    Step 1 – Determine the key

    The key is Bb:

    Step 2 – Form a minor seventh chord in that key

    The Bb minor seventh chord:

    …produces 66% of the Bb minor pentatonic blues scale.

    Step 3 – Add the fourth and augmented fourth tone to the minor seventh chord

    The fourth and augmented fourth (aka – “raised fourth”) tones in the key of Bb major are Eb and E:

    …respectively.

    Addition of Eb and E:

    …to the regular Bb minor seventh chord:

    …produces the Bb minor pentatonic blues scale:

    Final Words

    Now that you’ve learned another smart way to transpose the minor pentatonic blues scale, we’re faced with the next challenge which is fingering.

    Without knowing the proper fingering of the blues scale in all twelve keys, although you can transpose the scale from key to key mentally, you’ll have difficulty in playing them.

    With the proper fingering of the blues scale, you’ll have all you need to play licks and phrases over the blues progression and that’s going to be our next lesson.

    Thanks for your time!

     

    P.S.

    Here are the minor pentatonic blues scale in all twelve keys…

    C minor pentatonic blues scale:

    C# minor pentatonic blues scale:

    D minor pentatonic blues scale:

    Check out the rest of them…


    Eb minor pentatonic blues scale:

    E minor pentatonic blues scale:

    F minor pentatonic blues scale:

    F# minor pentatonic blues scale:

    G minor pentatonic blues scale:

    G# minor pentatonic blues scale:

    A minor pentatonic blues scale:

    Bb minor pentatonic blues scale:

    B minor pentatonic blues scale:

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    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.




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    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Moses

    thank you so much sir i am learning piano your lessons are really amazing.
    My request please post pdf related information so that i can Store…
    thanks and regards..
    praise the lord…….

    Reply

    2 Christine

    Greetings frommy house to yours enjoy the holidays coming up love you byee

    Reply

    3 Shalom Umeaku

    I also wud request for a PDF of such valuable teachings for storage . Thanks.

    Reply

    4 Jimmy Hardnett

    Thanks! Preacher Man and Staff for the lessons on the blues scales and how to form each and every key and hoe to do it. For years all I knew was the C Maj Scale lol, but now I’m going to work in some other keys now, may God truly bless you ll!!!

    Reply

    5 Rick

    Excellent blog on creating blues scale in any key, very impressive, well described, and extremely useful. I guess I can stop playing blues riffs only in C now.

    Reply

    6 Edmond

    Thanks a lot for this awesome lesson.
    I’ll love to get the video if possible
    Thank You

    Reply

    7 sam'uel

    Bravo! It’ll please my heart to have the video. Thanks..

    Reply

    8 Emmanuel

    Thank you so much for this wonderful lesson.really it’s was my biggest problem to transpose.am waiting for the fingering please i can’t wait

    Reply

    9 Peter LaFosse

    Always good to know other ways to do things Thanks.

    Reply

    10 modénéla

    want to thankbypu guys for thèse stuff right here bless you
    now i wanted to get some teachings about routless chording and also about how to create runs
    im Grateful for getting an answer soon

    Reply

    11 Lawrence

    Invaluable! Thank you so much for opening new music horizons for me. Godbless.

    Reply

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