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Section 31.9 Scales

In this section on scales, our primary concern will be understanding how scales relate to corresponding chords in order to allow one to improvise a jazz solo. Similarly, understanding chord-scale relationships can allow one to write chordal solos (like a sax soli or shout chorus in a jazz ensemble piece) where non-chord tones come from the corresponding scale.

Subsection 31.9.1 The Blues Scale

The blues scale is identical to the minor pentatonic scale (\(\hat{1}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\) ) except with an added ♭\(\hat{5}\) /♯\(\hat{4}\) (\(\hat{1}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –♭\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\) ).

Figure 31.9.1. The Blues Scale (Descending)

A well-known example of the blues scale occurs in “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream.

Figure 31.9.2. Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, “Sunshine of Your Love”

In the blues scale, the ♭\(\hat{5}\) and ♭\(\hat{3}\) are considered to be “blue notes” because they are not chord tones (of a major triad or dominant 7th chord). Blue notes are commonly used in jazz and popular music.

In terms of using the blues scale as a soloist, you will find that some players use the blues scale over any and every chord, and that listeners’ ears often find this acceptable.

Subsection 31.9.2 The Bebop Scale

The bebop scale (known more specifically as the “bebop dominant” scale in jazz theory texts) is identical to the Mixolydian scale except is has an added ↑\(\hat{7}\) . The added chromatic note (↑\(\hat{7}\) ) occurs in descending passages (from \(\hat{8}\) –\(\hat{7}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\) ) as a chromatic passing tone. The bebop scale is most often used over the dominant 7th chord. In the most rudimentary form of improvising, one can use the bebop scale in descending eighth notes beginning on the downbeat of a measure, starting on the root, 3rd, 5th, or 7th.

Figure 31.9.3. Descending C Bebop Scale starting on Root, then 3rd, then 5th, then 7th

Subsection 31.9.3 Table of Scales

The scales below are represented by scale degrees. Synthetic scales like whole tone, diminished, and diminished-whole tone have many acceptable enharmonic respellings.

CLASSICAL SCALES MODES AND HYBRID MODES JAZZ AND SYNTHETIC
Major (“Ionian”)
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –\(\hat{7}\)
Mixolydian
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Blues
\(\hat{1}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –♭\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Natural Minor (“Aeolian”)
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –♭\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Lydian
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –\(\hat{3}\) –♯\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –\(\hat{7}\)
Bebop Dominant
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\) –\(\hat{7}\)
Harmonic Minor
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –♭\(\hat{6}\) –\(\hat{7}\)
Dorian
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Bebop Major
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –♯\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –\(\hat{7}\)
Melodic Minor
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –\(\hat{7}\)
Phrygian
\(\hat{1}\) –♭\(\hat{2}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –♭\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Whole Tone
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –\(\hat{3}\) –♯\(\hat{4}\) –♯\(\hat{5}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Locrian
\(\hat{1}\) –♭\(\hat{2}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –♭\(\hat{5}\) –♭\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Octatonic (Half-Whole)
(“Diminished” scale)
\(\hat{1}\) –♭\(\hat{2}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{3}\) –♯\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Locrian ♯2
(6th mode Melodic Minor)
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –♭\(\hat{5}\) –♭\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Octatonic (Whole-Half)
(“Diminished” scale)
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –♯\(\hat{4}\) –♯\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –\(\hat{7}\)
Lydian-Dominant
(4th mode Melodic Minor)
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –\(\hat{3}\) –♯\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Diminished-Whole Tone
(also “Altered” scale or
7th mode Melodic Minor)
\(\hat{1}\) –♭\(\hat{2}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –♭\(\hat{4}\) –♭\(\hat{5}\) –♭\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Phyrgian-Dorian
(2nd mode Melodic Minor)
\(\hat{1}\) –♭\(\hat{2}\) –♭\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Lydian-Augmented
(3rd mode Melodic Minor)
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –\(\hat{3}\) –♯\(\hat{4}\) –♯\(\hat{5}\) –\(\hat{6}\) –\(\hat{7}\)
Mixolydian-♭\(\hat{6}\)
(5th mode Melodic Minor)
\(\hat{1}\) –\(\hat{2}\) –\(\hat{3}\) –\(\hat{4}\) –\(\hat{5}\) –♭\(\hat{6}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\)
Table 31.9.4. Table of Scales