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July 04, 2012

Learn the 12 Bar Blues Guitar Progression

One of the things that many of my students have difficulties with is playing rhythm over a 12 bar blues. Often students get confused about the chord progression. It is completely essential that you know the 12 bar progression like the back of your hand. You must know in advance when IV chord comes, and when you go back to the I chord, and when the V chord comes, etc. This is MORE important that being able to play the shuffle pattern itself. If you are not completely comfortable at all times with the 12 bar progression, then please get this basic lesson about I-IV-V, or 1-4-5. This course lays it all down for you, explains the theory in a way that is easy to understand.

There are many variations on the 12 bar blues progression, but they all have those important I, IV and V at certain places of the 12 bar progression, and you must practice listening and playing this progression often, so that you automatically feel when you need to go to the next chord. For me, this happens without thinking, but I see many students who are basically guessing when the next chord need to change, and that is just not going to work. If you want to be a good musician, you MUST KNOW these things - guessing is NOT part of learning a skill such as playing guitar.

Don't be discouraged though - everything is difficult in the beginning, but that is precisely why we practice. I had trouble with these things too, a long time ago. But after playing something over and over, we develop the skills needed. Really, it is true. Just think about learning to ride the bike. It was not easy in the beginning, was it? All parents remember how difficult the switch from the tricycle to a real bike can be. Well, make sure you get of that three-wheeler when you play the blues - learn the progression so that you don't need think about it. It will become automatic after a while - just put in the practice time, and I am confident you will do just fine.

Again, consider the I-IV-V lesson if you think you need some help understanding this.

After you get the confidence and experience needed to play a 12 bar blues without having to count and guess, you should try some variations. Jazz players took a lot of freedom with the 12 bar blues progression. That makes it a lot more fun too! Here are a few cool variations you can try:

BeBop Blues in the key of F:

F7    |  Bb7  | F7 | Cm7 F7
Bb7  | Bdim | F7 | Am7 D7
Gm7 |   C7  | Am7 D7 | Gm7 C7

Count Basie Style

F7   | Bb7 Bdim | F7 | Cm7 F7
Bb7  |   Bdim    | F7 | D7
Gm7 |   C7       | F7 | C7 

By Robert Renman - www.dolphinstreet.com

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Posted by Robert Renman on July 04, 2012

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