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12 Bar Blues Chords & Scales for GuitarThe 12 bar blues is a 12 bar long chord progression that solo blues musicians can easily improvise over the top ofbecause the chord progression is familiar to them. This chord progression is based around the most important chordsin a key I, IV & V (1, 4 & 5) and is repeated over and over for the duration of the piece. It is usually in 4/4 (4 crotchetbeats per bar) and uses 1 chord per bar with 12 bars in total - thus the 12 bar blues.The 12 bar blues progression is as follows:IIVVIIVIVIIIIIVIt is very common in blues music to add 7ths to the major chords giving that classic blues sound. These areconstructed of a major triad (as in the table below) and then adding a minor 7th on the top (10 semitones above theroot forming dominant 7th chords). For example in C Major this would be:Chord IChord IVChord VCFGEABGCDBbEbF4&4 V V V V&4 CV (chordV I) V V4&4 V V V VVV V VV VV V VV V V VV VV V V VCV (chordV I)CV (chordV I)Try playing the 12 bar blues progression in C with just the major triads:VVVVVVVVVVVV& V& V& VVVVVVVVVV&&&F (chord IV)VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVF (chord IV)VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVC(chord I)V V VVV V VCV (chordV I)VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVC (chord I)& V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V& V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V& V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V VNow 4try playing it in the same key, but with the 7th chords so that you can hear the difference:& 4 V7 V 7V V V 7 V 7V V V7 V 7V V V7 V 7V V&4 CV (chordV I )V V CV (chordV I )V V CV (chordV I )V V CV (chordV I )V V4&4 V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V VG (chord V)F7 (chord IV7)& V& V& VVVVVVVG7(chord V7)RMUSICVVVwww.dsmusic.comF (chord IV)F7 (chord IV7)VVVVVVVVVF7 (chord IV7)VVVC (chord I)C7 (chord I7)C7 (chord I7)VVVPage 1VVVVVVVVVG (chord V)C7 (chord I7)VVVVVVVVVG7(chord V7)VVV Copyright 2014 DS Music

In blues music you will hear a lot of syncopation (off beat) and swing rhythms. With swing rhythms you will have evennote values (for example a group of quavers). You elongate the first note and then slightly accent the second (almostlike a dotted rhythm, but not quite as strict or straight). It is like you are playing triplets (squeezing 3 beats in to thetime of 2) i.e. qaa z [qp ]eYou will see the marking for ‘swing’ (sometimes along with the triplet equation), ‘swing8ths’, or ‘swung’ or similar instructions at the start of the piece to indicate this. A traditional way to accompany a 12bar blues is to use these swing rhythms (in this case swing 8ths) with alternating intervals of 5ths to 6ths which iscalled a ‘shuffle’. & Here is an example in C.why don’t you have a go:11&Swing qaa z [qp ]e (Repeat 12 bars as long as required) 4& 4 œœ œœ&œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ C (chord I) 44531 73 35373&C (chord I)C (chord I)215353 737353 537373 535373 7353 537373 C (chord I)535373 735353 737353 537373 œ œ 41œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ& œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ & 5 F (chord IV)53537373C (chord I)F (chord IV)535153737353& & 537373535373 735353 73C (chord I)73 535373 73535373 7353 5373 œœœœœœœœ œœœœœœœœœœœœ& œ œ 61œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œœ œœ œ œ œœ œœ œ œœœœœœœœœ9 G (chord V)7575959571&7575955395 F (chord IV) 537373 535373C (chord I) 7353 53 737353 G (chord V) 537373 5353 73 735353 7373 73 Now you have the basic 12 bar blues progression under your belt why don’t you try having a go at improvising overthe top. For this you would use the blues scale. The blues scale is very similar to the minor pentatonic scale, but withan additional lowered 5th note (lowered by half a step/semitone), or blues note. To see the blues chord progressionswith their relevant blues scales in every key please see the the chart on the next page.RMUSICwww.dsmusic.comPage 2 Copyright 2014 DS Music

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