Blues School: Minor Blues 12-Bar Form & Harmony, The First Lesson

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Welcome to the first and most important lesson in Minor Blues 12-Bar Form & Harmony

Like the Major Blues 12-Bar pattern, the Minor Blues 12-bar pattern consists of three distinct 4-bar phrases…

The first 4-bar phrase (bars 1-4) establishes both the home key and minor-ness of the piece with the Cm(7) chord…


The second 4-bar phrase (bars 5-9) creates harmonic tension with the Fm(7) chord (iv7) that is released with a return back to the tonic Cm7 chord (i7)…


The third 4-bar phrase (bars 9-12) creates harmonic tension with the Gm(7) chord (v7) that is released with a return back to the tonic Cm(7) chord (i7).


Listen to all three phrases combined into a 12-bar chorus…

The deep appreciation of this fundamental three-phase structure is absolutely essential to playing minor 12-bar blues in authentic style.

In order to sound/feel “right”, each 12-bar chorus should be rhythmically and melodically coherent, say something that moves the listener, and lead back to the top of the next chorus or to a logical ending. Think of these three phrases as interrelated musical sentences that tell a story. With some tasty licks in your bag and a commitment to this basic character, your boogie playing will sound right in style.

Think of these three phrases as interrelated musical sentences that tell a story. Such understand of form and phrasing is absolutely essential to playing blues in authentic style.

Stay tuned for more!

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