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  • 30 Days to Better Guitar Playing

  • 30 Days to Better Guitar Playing

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    How To Play the Blues: 12 Bar Blues Variations Part 1

    by Simon James

    Standard 12 Bar Blues Form:

    As your blues studies progress it is important to listen to a lot of blues music in order to really grasp this structure. Upon further listening you will notice that there are a number of variations to the standard 12 bar blues progression.

    The most typical blues structure is the 12 bar blues form where we play four bars on the I, two bars on the IV, two bars on the I, then one bar each on the V, the IV, the I and the V. So a Blues in A will go as follows: four bars on A, two on D, two on A, one on E, one on D, one on A, one on E:

    12 Bar Blues shuffle  

    The Quick Change:

    This involves moving to the IV on the second bar during the first four bars. So in the key of A the first four bars go as follows: A, D, A, A and from there on continuing in the normal 12 bar form.

    12 Bar Blues shuffle  

    2. The Long V Chord:

    This involves holding the V for bar 9 as before but also for bar 10 instead of going down to the IV. So in the key of A it will follow: four bars on A, two on D, two on A, two on E, one on A, one on E.

    12 Bar Blues shuffle  

    3. The Long I Chord:

    In this structure the blues proceeds along the regular 12 bar form, but when you come to the bar 12 you simply hold the I instead of finishing the sequence on the V. So in A: four bars on the I, two on the IV, two on the I, one on the V, one on the IV, two on the I.

    12 Bar Blues shuffle  

    4. 12 Bar Blues with Variations:

    Variations of blues can include one or all of these elements. Make sure that as you study you listen to plenty of blues and listen out for all of these different forms.

      12 Bar Blues shuffle  

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    Related Posts:

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    2. How To Play 12 Bar Blues

    3. Blues Variations Part 1

    4. Introduction to Jazz Blues

    5. Using Minor and Major 3rds in Blues Soloing