12 bar blues

12 bar blues

12 bar blues progression is a standard musical form that provides a common ground for musicians to play along and improvise in a blues song. This structure is well-known among musicians, allowing for seamless impromptu jam sessions where everyone seems to know when to change chords and how to bring the song to a close. Musicians familiar with the 12 bar blues progression can easily play along with others, even if they are of different skill levels. The 12 bar blues progression acts as a foundation, much like basic dance steps do for dancers, providing a sense of structure and familiarity.

12 bar blues essentials

The 12 bar blues is a chord progression used in blues music that is typically 12 bars (measures) long, each of which consists of a 4/4 time signature. The chords used in the 12 bar blues progression are usually a I-IV-V progression, meaning that the first, fourth, and fifth chords of the major scale are played in a repeating pattern.

A common 12 bar blues progression in the key of C would look like this: C7 – C7 – C7 – C7 F7 – F7 – C7 – C7 G7 – F7 – C7 – C7

Many blues songs are based on this simple progression and variations of it, but blues music also allows for improvisation and variation, making each performance unique.

12 bar blues

12 bar blues

12 bar blues progression

Some notable artists who have used the 12 bar blues progression in their music include Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, and Eric Clapton.

Here is a list of some great 12 bar blues songs:

  • “Sweet Little Angel” by B.B. King
  • “Hoochie Coochie Man” by Muddy Waters
  • “Spoonful” by Howlin’ Wolf
  • “Crossroads” by Robert Johnson
  • “Stormy Monday” by T-Bone Walker
  • “The Thrill is Gone” by B.B. King
  • “Got my mojo working” by Muddy Waters
  • “Dust My Broom” by Robert Johnson
  • “Key to the Highway” by Big Bill Broonzy

These songs demonstrate the versatility and longevity of the 12 bar blues progression and its impact on blues and popular music.

The origin of the The 12 bar blues

As blues music evolved, the 12 bar blues progression became a staple form, used in countless blues songs and serving as a foundation for improvisation and personal expression. The progression’s simplicity and versatility made it a popular choice for blues musicians, and it quickly spread beyond the deep south and into the broader American musical landscape.

In addition to its musical roots, the 12 bar blues progression has also been seen as a reflection of the social and cultural experiences of African Americans. The form’s repetitive structure and focus on personal expression have been interpreted as musical representations of the hardships and struggles faced by African Americans, as well as their resilience and strength in the face of adversity.

All in all the 12 bar blues progression is a significant part of musical history and continues to play a vital role in blues and popular music.