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Pentatonic and Blues Scale – Tenor Sax and Alto Sax

by Neal

The pentatonic and blues scales are fun to play around with and give you a certain bluesy sound.

Minor pentatonic has one less note than the blues scale, so they’re practically the same scale.

That means the blues scale is a pentatonic minor scale with the raised fourth aka lowered fifth (in addition to the perfect fourth).

1,-3, 4, 5, -7

with the minus sign meaning ‘minor’

is the minor pentatonic.

1,-3, 4, #4, 5, -7

is the blues scale.

In the key of Bb (concert), the blues scale on tenor sax is

C, Eb, F, F#, G, Bb

on alto in Bb (concert), it’s

G, Bb, C, C#, D, F

To check out an application of the minor pentatonic scale, you can look at the free lesson on the tune Cantaloupe Island which uses the minor pentatonic scale exclusively for the melody and in which you can apply the blues scale over improvisation.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Barry February 6, 2011 at 4:35 am

I’m learning a lot on your site. Thanks :)


Neal February 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Hey Barry,
Cool, glad to help.


Waleed August 5, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Hey Neal,
I’ve been here for about 3 months, since the first time i played pink panther on my alto for the 1st time -you can’t imagine how happy i was-, and now i’m here looking for harmony and scales.
I had to stop to say thanks for your effort that did help me to get better.


Neal August 5, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Hey Waleed,
You’re welcome, thanks for saying so.


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