HOME         BIO          CONTACT          ONLINE  GUITAR  LESSONS            CHORD/SCALE GENERATOR          LINKS          SITEMAP

New Jersey Guitar Lessons

duo_merged_209.gif (21784 bytes)


FREE TRIAL GUITAR LESSON. Absolutely No Obligation! Call 973-785-0896




                       ONLINE GUITAR LESSONS                          

 12 Bar Blues Progressions And Variations



The blues is a musical form as much as it is a musical style or feeling. The most common blues    form is the 12-bar blues consisting of the I–IV–V progression. The progression below is a blues in the key of G. It consists of twelve measures, or bars, and the chords within this blues form             are the I (G7), IV (C7), and V (D7) chords in the key of G. This would be an example of a “quick change,” because after the first bar of the I chord (G7), the harmony shifts immediately to the IV chord (C7). The last two bars are known as the “turnaround” because chordally, it turns you around to the I chord at the top of the progression.

Gblues.JPG (25348 bytes)


There are many many different sets of blues progressions, going from the basic original blues to the more modern variations. The foundation however stays the 12 bar blues with a set of 3 chord changes.

Here are some characteristics of the blues:

  • Most blues chord progressions are 12 bars long, although there are also 14, 16, 24 or more bar blues changes.  There are many different 12 bar blues forms though.
  • The tonic chord of a blues is a dominant 7 chord, a fact that doesn't fit very well in traditional music theory.
  • The blues is not only about chord changes and scales, but is also about a certain sound, a feeling.
    Responsible for that sound are the blue notes:  a lowered 3rd note and a lowered 5th note.
  • The 3 basic chords of a blues are all dominant 7 chords.

Here's a list of possible sets of blues chord changes:

Basic Blues

Bb7   F7  
C7 Bb7 F7  
1930s evolution F7 Bb7 F7  
Bb7   F7  
G7 C7 F7 C7
Count Basie Blues Changes F7 Bb7    Bdim F7 Cm7    F7
Bb7 Bdim F7 D7
Gm7 C7 F7  
Bebop Changes F7 Bb7 F7 Cm7    F7
Bb7 Bdim F7 Am7    D7
Gm7 C7 Am7    D7 Gm7    C7
Tritone Substitution F7 Bb7 F7 Cm7    F7
Bb7 Bm7    E7 F7    E7 Eb7    D7
Gm7 C7    Bb7 Am7    D7 Gm7    C7
Charlie Parker Blues Fmaj7 Em7b5   A7b9 Dm7    Db7 Cm7    F7
Bb7 Bbm7    Eb7 Am7    D7 Abm7    Db7
Gm7 C7 F    D7 Gm7    C7


Most blues begin "woke up this morning."
"I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line:
I got a good woman-- "with the meanest dog in town".

Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes. Sort of:
Got a good woman with the meanest dog in town. He got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and he weighs about 500 pounds.

The blues are not about limitless choice.
Blues cars are Chevies and Cadillacs. Other acceptable blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

Teenagers can't sing the blues. Adults sing the blues. Blues adulthood means old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

You can have the blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or Queens. Hard times in Vermont or North Dakota are just a depression. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are still the best places to have the blues.

The following colors do not belong in the blues:
You can't have the blues in an office or a shopping mall, the lighting is wrong.

Good places for the blues:
the highway
the jailhouse
the empty bed

Bad places:
Gallery openings
weekend in the Hamptons

No one will believe it's the blues if you wear a suit, unless you happen to be an old black man.

Do you have the right to sing the blues?
Yes, if:
your first name is a southern state--like Georgia
you're blind
you shot a man in Memphis.
you can't be satisfied.

No, if:
you were once blind but now can see.
you're deaf
you have a trust fund.

Neither Julio Iglesias nor Barbra Streisand can sing the blues.

If you ask for water and baby gives you gasoline, it's the blues.
Other blues beverages are:
Irish whiskey
muddy water

Blues beverages are NOT:
Any mixed drink
Any wine kosher for Passover
Yoo Hoo (all flavors)

If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is a blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse, or being denied treatment in an emergency room. It is not a blues death, if you die during a liposuction treatment.

Some blues names for women:
Big Mama

Some blues names for men:
Little Willie
Persons with names like Sierra or Sequoia will not be permitted to sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

Other blues names (Starter Kit):
Name of Physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Asthmatic)
First name (see above) or name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi)
Last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
Mix and match.


CALL 973-785-0896