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12-Bar Blues

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Jason Luciana

on 5 December 2013

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Transcript of 12-Bar Blues

Form & Style
12 Bar Blues
The most common form of blues is the 12-bar blues. Today, we'll be examining the form and structure of the 12-bar blues, as well as some of the more common chords and chord progressions involved.
Every 12-bar blues song has an over-arching structure to it; sort of like a process or order that makes up the way the song sounds. Now this order is 12 bars long, and typically repeats itself, making it easier to identify and analyze.
The Overall Structure
The "I" chord is home-base. It's the chord that serves as the tonal center and the "key" of the piece. It's the primary harmony that we always come back to in a piece of music.
The "I" Chord
If we play a piece of music in the key of
A-Major, home-base is the A-Major Chord


That is the chord we will always come back to because it serves as our tonal center.
For example:
Every scale is made up of 8-pitches that we can number 1-8.
For example, in C-Major,
The "IV" Chord
The basic IV chord begins with the 4th note of any scale, so in our case, it would be D (since we started in A-Major). From there we build a D-Major triad.
The basic "IV" chord
Sometimes it's hard figuring out what a "major triad" is. The best way to do this is to take your starting note, count three up from the bottom, then count five up from the bottom. It takes knowing key signatures, but once you learn them, it's easy!
So, in case you're confused...
So, if the IV chord in A Major is a D-Major chord, it makes sense that the V chord would be...?
The "V" Chord
So let's take a look at that progression one...more...time...
What the heck is the little "7" next to each chord?
Houston, we have a problem...
If I have a chord that has a "7" next to it, the composer or publisher is telling me to add the 7th scale tone to the chord, no longer making it a triad. The 7th tone also gives jazz and blues chords their sound.
I7, IV7 & V7 Chords
Listen to a I, IV, and V chord followed by a I7, IV7 and V7 chord and try and describe the difference between the chords the best you can.
Describe it for me...
For ease of learning, the video we'll be watching will teach us the 12-bar blues in E. I know, I know...we've been using A.

Deal with it.
So let's put this all together...
Full transcript