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Scales to Play Over a Jazz Blues

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When working on a jazz blues, it can be helpful to have some note choices available to you and mapped out, so that you can navigate the changes efficiently and well.

So in today’s video, I’m going to go over some common scales that can help you get started not only with mapping out a jazz blues but conceptualizing jazz language.

Important Links and Resources

Suggested Resource:

Sign up for my free Masterclass “Boost Your Jazz Blues” by clicking here.

Further Reading:

Boost Your Jazz Blues

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. The videos are quite informative but it would be so much better if you actually played a cycle or two to finish off the lesson putting some perspective on the teachings.

  2. Hi Brent, Really love the videos you do.

    As you probably know from my emails, my favorite scales are the bebop scales.

    As you think of the Blues scale as a pentatonic minor scale with an extra chromatic passing tone
    it got me to think of the bebop scales as mixolydian (major) or dorian (minor) scales with an extra chromatic passing tone.

    Being able to do eighth note runs from any chord tone either ascending or descending is a good basic vocabulary to have under the belt. For a newbie like me, bebop scales are an easy choice. They allow you to hit chord tones on the beat. What I like about them (unlike mixolydian or dorian or other 7 note scales), is that if you start on any chord tone (1,3,5,7) and then do an eighth note run either ascending or descending you will end with a chord tone on the beat. The more chord tones I hit on the beat, the less lost I get, and things seem to sound better overall.

    They also provide some good choices to help with voice leading.

    Note: Other scales with an even number of notes in them should have the property of starting on a chord tone and ending on a chord tone when doing eighth note runs.

    Thanks again,

    • re Note: replace should with can. "Other scales with an even number of notes in them can have the property of starting on a chord tone and ending on a chord tone when doing eighth note runs"


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