Blues Chords

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!

Posted by Erik Thiede

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