From the category archives:

Blues Piano

Blues Chords

by Erik Thiede on April 28, 2014

Learning to play blues chords is one of the easiest exercises for any musician that knows how to play at a basic level. Once you learn the basics of playing the blues, you can sit in with the members of just about any blues band and jam right along with them.

Click Here To Learn How To Play Blues Chords!

First, if you aren’t familiar with the term “chord progression,” it refers to a pattern of chords, one that repeats throughout a song even if that pattern is sometimes broken up by another group of chords. Second, chords in a progression have names such as tonic, subdominant and dominant. A tonic chord matches the key you are playing in. If you are playing in the key of C, for instance, the tonic chord is C. The dominant chord corresponds to the fifth note of the scale of the key you are playing in. In the key of C, that would be the G chord. And as the name would suggest, the subdominant is below the dominant; in music, the subdominant refers to the fourth note of the scale, so in this case, we are referring to an F chord.

The most common blues chord progression is the 12-bar blues progression. A bar is a measure, something you may have seen in sheet music. Therefore, this blues phrase consists of 12 measures.

The basic elements of the 12-bar blues progression are:

  • It is 12 measures long.
  • The fifth bar usually contains the subdominant chord.
  • 3. The ninth bar usually contains the dominant chord, and is often followed by the subdominant chord, and finally the tonic chord in bars eleven and twelve.

Blues musicians are fond of playing their chords as sevenths. A seventh chord is made of the three note triad (in the C chord, the triad notes are C, E and G) plus the “minor seventh” note, which is a half step below the seventh note in the scale. A C7 chord is made up of the notes C, E, G and B flat.

Here is how a typical 12-bar blues tune in the key of C would read. Each chord represents a full bar.

C | C | C | C7 | F7 | F7 | C | C | G7 | F7 | C | C

If you ever find yourself sitting in with a guitarist or two, you might find they like to play in the key of E. In that case, the 1-4-5 pattern will consist of E, A and B.

Experiment by playing the 3rd note of the scale as a flat and as a major simultaneously. For instance, the C chord would be played C-E flat-E-G. If you can handle it, add the seventh to that chord for a truly cool blues sound.

There you have it! The secret of playing blues chords is that it’s really no secret at all. Learn more about playing the blues from some of the great sites I’ve listed on my links page

Click Here To Learn How To Play Blues Chords!

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Blues Piano Lessons

by Erik Thiede on April 13, 2014

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!

Click Here And Learn The Dos And Donts Of A Great Blues Pianist!

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!

Click Here And Learn The Dos And Donts Of A Great Blues Pianist!

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