The standard Riff that we’ve been playing in the key of A has these notes : A C# E F# A
And we often add the note G to these riffs, because that is part of the blues scale
It’s the flat 7th.
But what happens if we move even further away from the down home blues melodies.
We’ll end up in major land.
If we throw out the flat 3 and replace it by the major second AND avoid the G, we end up with this scale in the key of A : A B C# E F# A
This is a major pentatonic one and is used in pop music and in country music.
Certain blues players also like to use this scale in songs that have a bit more poppy chord progression.
Pee Wee Crayton was one of them, but you can also hear it in the intro of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Need your love so bad’.
With this scale you have ended up playing a major scale on major chords; sounds honky dory, but also a trifle hokie from a blues angle.
There’s not a lot of tension left, but it can work great for creating upbeat melodies.
As with the Standard Riff, you have to move with the chords to make the melodies work.
So on a blues progression in G you play
– the major pentatonic scale of G on the G chords
– the major pentatonic scale of C on the C chords
– the major pentatonic scale of D on the D chords
This scale does not include a flat seventh OR a major seventh.
This means that the major pentatonic scale will work over a dominant seventh chord, but also over a regular major chord.
So if you see a ‘blues’ progression with just major chords, the major pentatonic will work.
Same thing with a regular blues progression, using dominant seventh chords.