Between The Licks
|12 Bar Blues and Variations|
|Written by Bryan Helmig|
|Friday, 29 February 2008|
The iconic 12 bar blues and how to spice it up.
Most of us know the common 12 bar blues. We know how it relies on a simple three chord I, IV, and V progression. It works wonderful and we love it but sometimes we would like some variety. Here is a quick overview of a couple common but effective modifications.
First let's cover the basics:
Here is a progression in G with no frills.
That's as simple as they get. While you don't need it, the roman numeral chord labeling allows you to work in any key as explained in my Three Vital Musical Concepts lesson. Moving on.
The standard blues progression
This one is the bread and butter of 90% of blues songs. It's simple and effective also.
The chord changes create extra movement without becoming too complicated. The turn around (ending the progression on the V chord or D in this key) is a staple of blues everywhere. Moving on.
Just paying the bills:
Jazz big band changes
Sometimes you want the blues to sound a little more sophisticated than usual. These changes create a lot of movement are really fun to play.
These changes work best over a swing feel instead of a rock or shuffle approach.
Pick your favorite changes and combine
The blues is all about improvisation. You could try sitting on the I7 chord (or G7 in the key of G) for 8 measures until you get to the V and VI (or D7 and C7 in the key of G) to build some tension. You could combine the Jazz big band changes with blues-rock. Who knows, maybe you'll come up with the next popular style. The sky is the limit.
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