12 bar blues progression


learninfast
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learninfast
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03/10/2004 1:04 am
If the soul is pure the music flows freely. And if it is not pure? Then you must practice like a mother****er.

could anyone explain the the theory behind the 12 bar blues form. i have heard of it and am interested in learnig a bit of blues guitar.
My instructor told me it was essential to the style of basic blues guitar.
thank you.
[email]plepore@arobas.net[/email]
# 1
Christoph
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Christoph
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03/10/2004 2:02 am
12 bar blues -

I chord - 2 measures

IV chord - 2 measures

-repeat

1 chord - 1 measure

V chord - 1 measure

IV chord - 1 measure

turnaround - 1 measure

- start over

I think that's right. Then again, I could be wrong.
# 2
iamthe_eggman
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iamthe_eggman
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03/10/2004 5:24 am
To simplify it to layguitarman's terms, here's an example:

E - 2 bars
A - 2 bars
E - 2 bars
A - 2 bars
B - 1 bar
A - 1 bar
E - 2 bars (or E - 1 bar and Turnaround - 1 bar)
----------
12 bars
======

The above chords should probably be 7ths, but it doesn't matter all that much, except maybe the B.
... and that's all I have to say about that.

[U]ALL[/U] generalizations are [U]WRONG[/U]

[/sarcasm]
# 3
Christoph
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Christoph
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03/10/2004 5:36 am
You da man, eggman.

Yeah, the chords should be just 5ths, or dom7ths. I should've specified that.
# 4
chris mood
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chris mood
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03/11/2004 12:20 am
Here's your basic 12bar blues prog.

|A7...|....|....|....|
|D7...|....|A7...|....|
|E7...|D7...|A7...|D7.E7.||

There's is tons of variations you can do on this, the most common being to play the 1st 4 measures as:
|A7...|D7...|A7...|....|

You can also throw a walk-up into that last bar:
|A7...|D7...|A7...|A7 A#7 B7 C7|
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noticingthemistake
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noticingthemistake
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03/11/2004 3:52 am
I always thought the basic consideration to the form of a 12-bar blues progression was that it was made up of four, three bar phrases. Four times three equals twelve. You know instead of four bars played four times. Which equals sixteen.

Most regular chord progressions are made up of four bars. Like this:

|| G7. . . | C7. . . | G7. . . | D7. . . || x4

The 12-bar blues is different, instead of 4 bars per phrase. There's only 3, but since you play it 4 times. You still get a symmetrical sound.

12-bar blues (simple)
|| G7. . . | C7. . . | D7. . . || x4 (then do a different variation)

You can use any chords, but the most common are I, IV, V all as dominants or altered dominants.
"My whole life is a dark room...ONE BIG DARK ROOM" - a.f.i.
# 6
Christoph
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Christoph
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03/11/2004 4:36 am
Here we go . . .
# 7
chris mood
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chris mood
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03/11/2004 4:45 am
Huh...What is everybody talking about?
A 12 bar blues is 3 4 bar phrases.

The 1st 4 bars is nothing but the 1 chord, sometimes the 4 chord is inserted into measure 2 for variety.
The next 4 bars is 2 measures of the 4 chord, 2 measures of the 1 chord
The next 4 measures are 5 4 1 usually followed by a 4 to 5 turnaround.

In traditional blues each of the 4 bar phrases would contain 1 vocal line. The same vocal line would be repeated in phrases 1 & 2 with an answer/response followed in phrase 3.

ex.
I'm a king bee baby, I want you to be my queen
I'm a king bee baby, I want you to be my queen
We can make honey baby, like the worlds never seen
# 8
iamthe_eggman
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iamthe_eggman
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03/11/2004 2:39 pm
That doesn't rhyme! Who are you, anyways, BB King?!?!?

Do they have to be 7ths? To me using major chords has always sounded right also; a little less "clichéd" blues.
... and that's all I have to say about that.

[U]ALL[/U] generalizations are [U]WRONG[/U]

[/sarcasm]
# 9
chris mood
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chris mood
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03/11/2004 3:00 pm
Sorry about the lyrics, I got the 2 verses mixed up, all fixed now.

You can use major, you will get more of a rock sound. Dominant 7ths are traditionally used for more of a blues sound. There's all of about 8 types of blues progressions that use various types of chords. For instance, here's a 12 bar minor blues....

|Cmin7 . . . |F9 . . . |Cmin7 . . .| . . . . |

|Fmin7 . . . | . . . .|Cmin7 . . . .| . . . .|

|Ab13 . . . |G7#5 . . . |Cmin7 . . .|Dmin7b5 . G7#5 . ||
# 10
iamthe_eggman
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iamthe_eggman
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03/11/2004 6:30 pm
Yeah, I was just messin', anyways... actually, I thought it was kind of funny that they didn't rhyme. Too bad you fixed it.
... and that's all I have to say about that.

[U]ALL[/U] generalizations are [U]WRONG[/U]

[/sarcasm]
# 11
noticingthemistake
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noticingthemistake
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03/12/2004 12:30 am
I dunno maybe I'm wrong but I like the 4 3-bar phrases better. I'm just kidding. ;) Either way to me can sound bluesy. The 4 3-bar phrase has a cool effect.
"My whole life is a dark room...ONE BIG DARK ROOM" - a.f.i.
# 12
chris mood
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chris mood
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03/12/2004 4:56 am
Well, like any style of music, elements can be used to create certian effects. Something can be Bluesy, but technically it's not blues. Same thing with jazz and latin music, etc. There's specific song forms to these musically styles that make them what they are. So yeah, you can play 3 4 bar phrase, but it's not Blues, it's rock.
# 13
iiholly
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iiholly
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03/14/2004 11:55 pm
Ha... I love playing the 12 bar blues... so much you can do with such a simple concept. Its greatness... :D

# 14
iiholly
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iiholly
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03/14/2004 11:55 pm
Ha... I love playing the 12 bar blues... so much you can do with such a simple concept. Its greatness... :D

# 15
noticingthemistake
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noticingthemistake
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03/15/2004 12:21 am
Do you mean that you can't write a tune that it structured as 4 3 bar phrases and call it blues?? Sounds like a very austere remark. I know I have heard blues rhythm played as 4 3 bar phrases. I have one playing in my head now, I don't know who it is but it's definitely a 4 3 bar form. And it's blues. I wouldn't call it anything else.

I know certain music follows a traditional form, but like you added Jazz. There are certain rhythm patterns that you would call a "jazz rhythm", but when you listen to several different songs. Not all of them follow the same rhythm patterns. There's always some sort of re-invention or new outlook on things. So when this does happen would you then ceize to call the music jazz???
"My whole life is a dark room...ONE BIG DARK ROOM" - a.f.i.
# 16
chris mood
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03/15/2004 2:23 am
Form and rhythm are 2 seperate things.

4 3 bar patterns? What would the chord progression be?
# 17
noticingthemistake
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noticingthemistake
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03/15/2004 5:51 am
Originally posted by chris mood
Form and rhythm are 2 seperate things.


I know that. But not all songs have the same form either, let alone a certain genre of music has to fit a certain mold or "form". Granted a traditional or more common blues song will fit the mold you presented but it is also possible to do anything. I wouldn't have brought it up since this is alittle off topic, but you said if a form is not a certain way it's not a blues song. I don't understand.

4 3 bar patterns? What would the chord progression be?


Anything. The harmony could be anything as long as it's interesting and it is a nice compliment to the melody. Although it may seem daring, it is perfectly fine to try to find new progressions that are not in the list of top 10 blues chord progressions (form).

You may say well then it aint blues anymore, but since when should anything stay strictly traditional in this sense. Especially something that is expressive as music. Blues to me isn't a form like "sonata" or "rondo". Blues to me is more about the way of playing with certain rhythm patterns and melodic line/harmony that are associated with what we know as blues. The way music continues has infinite possibilities. Breaking these formal rules can make the song more interesting, I mean who wants to hear the same dinstiction in every single song. And yes it can still be blues.
"My whole life is a dark room...ONE BIG DARK ROOM" - a.f.i.
# 18
chris mood
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chris mood
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03/15/2004 3:57 pm
Good point.
But there are common charecteristics that must be present for something to be considered a certian style. Just becuase the blues scale was used in writing the melody, or dominant 7th chords used to create the harmony doesn't make something a blues song, but it may give the song a bluesy feel.

One of the most common characteristics of the blues form is that it is always divisible by 2 or 4 (phrases and form). So all blues (of the traditional sense) follows a 8, 12, or 16 bar form. As far as new forms or progressions being written, yes it does happen. What makes a "new" progression "Blues"? I guess it's popular embrace by the musicians of the blues community. For instance, Stormy Monday was a popular song that was written in the late 50's early 60's that was embraced by the blues community. A lot of blues musicians took the chords and form of that song and created there own. Same with "Night Life" by Willie Nelson, and "Key to the Highway" by Eric Clapton, again 2 songs that were embraced into the blues community.

It's hard to explain 'what" characteristics have to be present for something to be labeled a certian genre. One of the biggies we seen in the past 15 yrs is the existence of "Smooth Jazz". Although smooth jazz utilizes some characteristics of jazz music, not nearly enough to be considered a Jazz art form. In reality its more closely related to rock and funk. There's no way you can seriously compare Kenny G or Gerald Albright to John Coltrane.

The same argument you brought up could be presented against classical forms such as sonato, rondo, fugue, minuet, etc.
# 19
iamthe_eggman
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iamthe_eggman
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03/16/2004 4:21 am
Originally posted by iiholly
Ha... I love playing the 12 bar blues... so much you can do with such a simple concept. Its greatness... :D


Right on, sista!
... and that's all I have to say about that.

[U]ALL[/U] generalizations are [U]WRONG[/U]

[/sarcasm]
# 20

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