Could you use a crash-course in the blues? These blues piano lessons will get you headed in the right direction. We’ll begin with blues chords, string together a common blues progression, and combine it with a complementing bass line. Excited? Can’t wait to jam? Let’s get started with your blues piano lessons!
Let’s begin with the chords we’ll use for this exercise. To make things easy, we’ll play in the piano-friendly key of C. A C chord consists of the notes C, E and G. To add a blues “flavor” to the chord, make it a seventh by adding a fourth note – B flat – to the top of the chord. Do the same with an F chord and a G chord. These three chords represent the 1-4-5 pattern that is most common in modern music. The pattern is so-named because, C being your root chord or starting point, the F chord is 4 steps up and the G chord is 5 steps up.
Patterns are also known as progressions. Some “chord progressions” are quite familiar. The most popular blues chord progression is the 12-bar blues progression. A bar is also known as a measure. A measure contains a certain number of beats, often four, that determine the pace and rhythm of the music. A phrase consists of the 12 measures, a sort of beginning-to-end section within a song.
Here is how you will play your 12-bar blues tune. Each chord represents a full bar, with four beats per bar:
C | C | C | C7 | F7 | F7 | C | C | G7 | F7 | C | C
Here’s another blues progression you can try. In the last two bars, the chords shown are played for two beats instead of four:
C | F7 | C | C7 | F | F7 | C | C7 | G7 | F7 | C, F | C, G
To add bass to the music, you can simply play the corresponding note; a C chord gets C for the bass, etc. Put it all together and you’re playing the blues! You can play your songs very slowly for one type of mood, or you can pick up the pace for another.
Once you’ve mastered the key of C, work on playing the same progressions in other keys. If you ever join in on a blues jam, for instance, you may need to match the key that the other musicians are playing in. If you are uncertain what the other chords would be, you can find a chord progression chart online that will come in handy.
If you’d like to find more blues piano lessons, click over to some of the great sites I’ve listed on my piano lessons review page. Enjoy!