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Fiddle Lesson: Learning the Blues Scale


The sound of the blues scale is one of the most prominent tonalities heard throughout a variety of American musical traditions. It can be heard consistently within blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, soul, and, of course, bluegrass music. Countless compositions employ the blues scale in their melodies and it’s also a great tool to use when improvising, especially when you’re first learning how.


In this online fiddle lesson, master fiddler, ArtistWorks bluegrass instructor, and founding member of the David Grisman Quintet, Darol Anger, introduces us to the blues scale and teaches how to play the scale in the key of G minor. The fingering of the scale is particularly comfortable to grasp in this key, making this a great exercise for beginners and a fantastic way to embed the sound of the blues scale in your ears.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play the fiddle from a master musician like Darol Anger? Try some free online fiddle lessons now!


“The blues scale is a six-note scale that is built around the basic structure of the minor pentatonic scale,” Darol explains. “As we know, the pentatonic scale is a five-note scale. So, the addition of this sixth note is critical and it is what gives the blues scale its distinct bluesy sound.”


When deconstructing the blues scale in terms of the G minor scale tones, the sixth note that is added to the fundamental minor pentatonic is the flatted fifth, meaning that the semi-tone between scale degrees 4 and 5 is added to the minor pentatonic to create the blues scale. This flatted fifth note serves a distinct purpose and acts as a leading tone between the 4th and 5th scale degrees. It adds a healthy amount of sonic tension, which then resolves in a very satisfying way.


“This scale is a very important one to practice since it’s featured so prominently in such a wide variety of styles and settings. At this point, I would recommend pausing this video and practicing this scale fingering at least… 231 times,” explains Darol with a chuckle.


To learn the basic structure of the blues scale and how to implement it into your playing, dive into this online fiddle lesson from Darol Anger:


Learning the Blues Scale with Darol Anger:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play the fiddle? Through our comprehensive fiddle lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Darol Anger, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Darol’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner fiddle to advanced performance techniques, classic bluegrass tunes, improvisation, music theory, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as fiddlers and musicians.


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Darol Anger Jams with Bronwyn Keith-Hynes

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