Saturday, March 21, 2020

12 Bar Blues Revisited, pt. VI – The Turnaround and Quick Change

Since I began this series of posts on the 12 bar blues the musical examples I've have used applied it’s most basic form. This month I’ll close out the topic by covering two other of its forms: the turnaround and quick change.

A 12 bar blues which uses a “turnaround” is one where the last bar or twelfth bar of the progression is a “V” instead of “I” chord. It is so named a “turnaround” because it turns around to the beginning of the progression. Using a “V” chord at the end of the progression will either lead the song back to the start (so it can be repeated) or act as a cadence - the “I” chord will be played after the “V” to complete the progression. Here is and turnaround example to practice with.

A “quick change” is a commonly used variation of the 12 bar blues and it is one in which the second bar “I” chord is replaced by “IV”. It is aptly named as it quickly changes from a “I” to “IV” chord instead of staying on the one for four bars. This quick change example also has a turnaround at the end.

Try having students use basic blues progressions in as many different keys as possible to gain familiarity with not only the progression, but chords and keys as well!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

12 Bar Blues Revisited, pt. V – Applying Dominant 7th Chords

In last months post I covered playing a 12 bar blues in different keys, but this we'll turn all three chords in the key to dominant 7th chords. Usually you will only find a dominant 7th chord in a major chord and that is on the V chord.

A dominant 7th chord is one that is made using a 1 3 5 b7. For example, in the key of C the V chord is a G and making it a dominant 7th would yield the following notes: G B D F. When we see it written as a chord symbol it would be G7; hence, if we say play "G seven" we really mean G dominant 7th.

Of course a 12 bar blues does not always contain all dominant 7th chords, but applying them in this manner helps give our blues a bit more flavor and it will also help our students to expand their chord vocabulary. 

I have attached a sample 12 bar blues in the of A - the choice of this key is purposeful as it will help students utilize open position dominant 7th chords which only use two and three finger chords. Try having your students try other keys that use all open position dominant 7th chords such as G, D and E. 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

12 Bar Blues Revisited, pt. IV – Playing in Different Keys

In last month’s post I discussed harmonizing major scales and where the I, IV and V chords are located in each key. This month we’ll continue the discussion and begin to have students apply their new found knowledge.

I have outlined a basic 12 bar blues using I, IV and V and chords. Using this formula students can then “plug-in” the chords from the corresponding key they wish to practice - I have given an example in the key of G.

In order to increase a student’s chord vocabulary they should practice all the open chords (I, IV, V’s) they know in each key and apply them to the 12 bar blues formula. This way students are developing their ear to hear the I, IV, V progression, expanding their knowledge of chords and cementing the 12 bar blues pattern in their mind.