Scales Outline for Blues in F

Question by Fred

In going through your series on the page “Jazz Improvisation #1” I noticed that the first PDF notes a D7 chord in the 8th bar, but the notes don’t seem to match the chord outline (C-Bb-A-G-F# over D7).

See the PDF in question here…

Am I missing something here?

Hello Fred,

This is a nice question.

Well, sadly, yes: you are missing a little something. In a classical harmony sense, dominant chords that are a minor third appart (F7, D7, B7, Ab7) share a common diminished scale … I don’t want to get too involved into the theoretical reasons why it works, but let’s simply do an analysis of each note.

We are playing the F Mixolydian scale ascending to fit the F7 chord in bar 7 (F G A Bb C D Eb). So far, so good. the analysis of the notes are 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7, which is exactly the mixolydian mode. Right?


Now about that D7 … instead of playing the mixolydian mode for D7 (D E F# G A B C), we instead stick to the F mixo mode BUT we modify one note. The F natural becomes an F sharp.

So the scale used for D7 (starting from F#, not as written on the PDF) is simply F# G A Bb C D Eb. Let’s analyze each note from a D root note standpoint:

F# — 3
G — 11
A — 5
Bb — b13
C — b7
D — 1
Eb — b9

Wow, okay! So nothing is fishy here, right? We have a basic D7 arpeggios (1 3 5 b7) and then extensions (b9 11 b13).

In summary: in bar 8, we are simply playing on a D7(b13 b9) scale, some sort of very common altered chord / sound.

In fact, this scale is simply G harmonic minor. Look at it closely! So, by simply changing that F to an F# when descending the F mixolydian scale, we are preparing our ears to have some sort of a G minor sound next …

… and guess what is happening in bar 9. Yes, Gm7! 🙂

So, no need to play a completely different scale (D mixo for instance) in order for us to hear that a G minor chord is up next. Changing to that F# suffices. Least effort for maximized results.

I hope this clear things up for you.

Marc-Andre Seguin
“Improve Your Jazz Guitar Playing with a REAL Teacher”

3 thoughts on “Scales Outline for Blues in F

    • You might have noticed that in the example you gave, those extra chords (E9 and Eb9) are really chords that chromatically lead the ear to D9. The simplest answer is that you don’t HAVE to outline them all – just pay attention to the real function of the chords: the I chord (F7) leading to the VI chord (D7, as a dominant chord instead of a minor chord), leading to the ii chord. In other words, just ignore the extra chords.

      However, that’s not always the most satisfying approach. If you really want to outline fast, chromatic changes like that, then take a familiar structure and then move it chromatically through all those chords. For example, start at a high note like Eb, then go down to A, up to C, and then back up to Eb. Play that in 8th notes: Eb-A-C-Eb over the F7, then take that whole structure down a semitone for the E7, then again for the Eb7, and one more time for the D7. Then figure out how to resolve it for the Gm7 chord that you’re headed to.

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