Blues School: Major 12-Bar Blues: Harmonic Ear Training

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Major 12-Bar Blues Harmonic Ear Training using Solfege

Play and Listen to the overall sound…

Notice that the right hand chords are arranged using “voice-leading” so that they flow smoothly together. As you listen, be receptive to the sound-feeling of each chord as a whole with respect to the key center.

Note: It is crucial to hear and feel when each chord occurs in the context of the 12 bar form, which is composed of three distinct phrases:

Phrase #1: In bars 1 through 4, the C7 chord (I7) establishes the home key of C. The note Bb (Te) as part of the tonic chord is a defining feature of Blues harmony.

Phrase #2: In bars 5 and 6, the F7 chord (IV7) creates subdominant harmonic tension that is released with a return back to C7 in bars 7 and 8. This mixture of the major feeling E (Mi) with the minor feeling Eb (Me) is another defining feature of Blues harmony.

Phrase #3: In bars 9 and 10, the G7 chord (V7) establishes dominant harmonic tension which is resolved with a return to the C7 (I7) chord in bars 11 and 12.

Solfege Ear Training

Before jumping to the Solfege ear training studies below, make sure that you understand the following four points…

  1. It is critically important that you sing these studies out loud… Doing so, even if imperfectly (like Frank who is not a vocalist), is an extremely effective way to internalize the sounds.
  2. As you play and sing, don’t focus on the intervals between notes. Instead, be receptive to the unique sound-feeling of each Solfege syllable with respect to the key center Do.
  3. This is not a race! It is absolutely essential that you sing these studies slowly enough for the unique the sound-feeling of each Solfege syllable to make a meaningful impression on your mind’s ear!
  4. If you take the time to fight for every note as described above, you will eventually be able to hear and feel the Solfege syllables in your mind’s ear without playing or singing! Guaranteed!

Play & Sing each chord as a root position arpeggio…

Listen to Frank model how one might do these studies in a highly-effective manner…

Play & Sing each chord as a voiced arpeggio…

Play & Sing the Bass Voice…

Play & Sing the “Do” voice…

Notice that Do is common to both the C7 and F7 chords…

Play & Sing the “Mi” voice…

This mixture of the major-feeling E (Mi) with the minor-feeling Eb (Me) is another defining feature of Blues harmony. Notice the Bluesy flavor that Eb (Me) brings when the F7 chord arrives…

Play & Sing the “So” voice…

Notice that So is common to both the C7 and G7 chords…

Play & Sing the “Te” voice…

Notice that Te does not necessarily resolve to Do. This tasty dissonance is a defining feature of Blues harmony.

learn more… Blues School