12 bar 1 / 4 / 5 / blues / major tonality
Blues in the major tonality. This simply means that the chords are based on major triads. We can play the blues in either the minor or major tonality, oftentimes using the same groups of pitches in either of these two environments.
|Here is the sound of a 12 bar blues|
Cool with that? Now let's examine i't component parts. Chord symbols for each of the three phrases of a 12 bar 1, 4, 5 major blues in the key of C. Each box is 1 measure of 4 / 4 time.
|first phrase||C 7||C 7||C 7||C 7|
|second phrase||F 7||F 7||C 7||C 7|
|third phrase||G 7||F 7||C 7||G 7|
First chorus. Bars 1 through 4. The first phrase starts on the One chord or tonic. This first call and response theme is created from the pitches of the blues scale sets the tone. Example 1a.
Bars 5 through 8. The second phrase starts on the Four chord in bar 5 then back to tonic in bar 7. Same melodic idea. Example 1b.
Bars 9 through 12. The third phrase starts on the Five chord for bar 9, moves to Four in bar 10, then back to tonic in bar 11. The Five chord in bar 12 creates the Five to One cadential motion for the return to the tonic. Same melodic idea. Example 1c.
Easy huh? Yes, pretty basic but perhaps an essential starting point for the newly emerging artist. A key ability to acquire right now, if not already in place, is the ability to hear the top of the chorus. This translates basically into the first beat of each new 12 bar cycle. Find the top in the next sound file. Example 1e.
complete sound file for the first chorus, try jamming along, 10 choruses in C.
Did you find it? Cool. The next time you hear a blues song, listen to how the players approch crucial point in the music. Can you play or sing the line? This will help locating the top of the form. Try the jamm loop below and improvise your own lines perhaps. Use the pitches from the blues grouping to create your melodic ideas. Remember that one of the golden rules for improvisation is that the melody of the tune we are improvising on will pretty much always work when we run out of ideas while soloing. Strive hard to learn the 12 bar blues form, it's a big step up that once firmly taken can open up some big doors. Take up the blues challenge at some point, and once mastered, your good to go.
Here is a jamm loop of the above changes. Example 1f.
|practice loop for jamming, ten choruses of 1st chorus blues changes in C.|
|practice loop for jamming, ten choruses of uptempo 1st chorus blues in C.|
Cool with finding the top? Need a few new ideas for blues lines? Blues chords? Examine the pitches of the blues scale? Take the blues challenge perhaps? Click below.
|top / d.c. / head|
Is there a 12 bar 1 / 4 / 5 blues in the minor tonality? Of course, we have it all here n'est pas?
Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.
Booker T. Washington