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Beginner 12 bar blues

allansto

Senior Member
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Frankston Victoria Australia
Hi everyone
Allansto here again
Im trying to find the best way to learn the 12 bar blues, not just from a notes point of view but from a concept as well .
Im thinking if I can understand the way it works then I will be able to play any scale easier.
Ok so yes I know we`re using the 1st, 4th & 5th notes of a scale.
Im sure theres lots of lessons on you tube or forums
Im open to suggestions on these.
Regards
Allansto
 

kevgermany

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Look up minor blues scale or blues scale. (same thing, but there's also a major one). Blue notes are what makes it.

Lots on taming the saxophone. In the end it's feel, so listening is key.
 

Colin the Bear

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Try taking part in the blues thread on here.

The 12 bar isn't three notes 1st 4th 5th. In it's most simple form it's the three chords that cover all the notes of a given scale. Expressed as I IV V. In C this would be C F G7.

In it's simplest format

I / I / I / I /
IV / IV/ I / I /
V7/ V7/ I / I /

The harmony can get a more complicated but usually follows the basic pattern. You can run a blues scale in the tonic key all over it.

Here's a very simple one that's easy to follow

http://youtu.be/E0F42lasles

Once your ear catches it you'll find it all over the place.
 

aldevis

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In it's simplest format

I / I / I / I /
IV / IV/ I / I /
V7/ V7/ I / I /

Twelve bars that must become a second nature. There should be no need to count.
If you have a keyboard, learn it (in C, first)
 

Chris

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Twelve bars that must become a second nature. There should be no need to count.
If you have a keyboard, learn it (in C, first)

@aldevis I guess you could always do an IOTM about 'The Blues' :sax:???

Chris..
 

kernewegor

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This is what I did as a kid. It has a basic logic to it, and you may find it a good plan to follow.

Find a 12 bar blues that you really like the words of, and learn them. Then when you are away from your instrument about your daily work or whatever you can keep singing it to yourself in your head and/or hearing the original singer.

The 'changes' will start to sink in and you won't have to count - you will feel them.

Listen also to some blues where the rhythm section is prominent, and listen for the changes. Boogie woogie piano is good stuff for this, too.

Your first improvisations may well be quite basic and sound a bit like some early jazz. That's great - it's the basis of the thread of blues which runs through all later jazz. Once you can improvise happily and 'to order' at this level, listen to how more recent jazz musicians played. Follow the time line in your listening, getting the feel of each era. Practice doing the same until you can do that too, before you move on.

You will notice that a key element of later jazz is a much more fluid use of rhythm. You may well find that moving from the older style of phrasing and how it relates to the basic pulse to later styles - particularly bebop - takes quite a lot of practicing to get right.

If you keep trying to imitate (I don't mean simply slavishly 'copy' or use transcriptions) the sort of stuff you hear - in a sort of musical time journey - things will fall into place.

It takes a lot of practice, but make it fun with a minimum of stuff on paper (writing out a schema of the changes is a good idea - visual memory is powerful stuff) and it will all come together. Phrases will occasionally pop out of no-where and surprise you 'cos they sound just like real jazzers play... the more you do it, the more it will happen.

By the way, you don't have to chuck away jazz from earlier eras as you progress. Listen to Mingus. His Blues and Roots CD is a good example and very aptly named. You can hear 'everything' in Sonny Rollins' playing, too, and many other players. Charlie Parker played the blues a lot - he just did it in a way that you need a quick ear to hear it all...
 

kernewegor

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Incidentally, all jazz gurus stress the importance of being able to play in all keys.

Playing the blues is a great way of doing this.

Once you can improvise in one key, start figuring out how to do it in another. Going up a fourth each time you want to practice in a new key makes a lot of sense - it will be largely the same territory, just rearranged a bit with a new chord change to play with. Sketch out on paper the changes for a blues in C and one in F and you'll see what I mean.

On sax D is a useful key for learning to play a minor blues. On clarinet G and then D is a good plan.
 

zelda

On the border
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This is what I did as a kid. It has a basic logic to it, and you may find it a good plan to follow.

Find a 12 bar blues that you really like the words of, and learn them. Then when you are away from your instrument about your daily work or whatever you can keep singing it to yourself in your head and/or hearing the original singer.

The 'changes' will start to sink in and you won't have to count - you will feel them.

Listen also to some blues where the rhythm section is prominent, and listen for the changes. Boogie woogie piano is good stuff for this, too.

I agree. "Kansas City" is my choice. Wilbert Harrison had a #1 Billboard hit with it in 1959. I saw him perform it at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in the fall of 1970 so I have a bit of an attachment to this tune. I played bass in a blues/oldies band for a year and a half about ten years ago and this song was a part of our set list at our weekly gig.

The intro starts on the 9th bar and he stays at home on the 12th bar instead of going to the V chord. There are a couple of pickup notes at the beginning of each verse, for example:
"Going to" at the beginning of the first verse. That's how I hear it anyway. I learned it by ear. It has good lyrics and a singable melody.
Jim
 
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zelda

On the border
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I tried to quote part of kernewegor's post but somehow screwed it up. My post begins with "I agree." Sorry about that. I tried editing it but to no avail.
 

kevgermany

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I tried to quote part of kernewegor's post but somehow screwed it up. My post begins with "I agree." Sorry about that. I tried editing it but to no avail.
Hope it now looks the way you want, if not let me know.
 

zelda

On the border
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Thanks, kev. That's how I wanted it to look.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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If you really want something simple to hear/see the chord progressions, most of Status Quo's tracks are good, as there's little/no melody to get in the way. You can even follow the changes by watching the guitarists left hands. They also don't complicate life with subtlety, so counting the bars is a breeze as they are so blazingly obvious.

Eric Clapton is another good one to learn from. Bell bottom blues, keys to the highway... More subtlety/music, but the structure is clear.

Lots of examples on youtube.
 

Colin the Bear

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Well they call it stormy monday but tuesday's just as bad
Yeah,they call it stormy monday but tuesday's just as bad
Wednesday is worse and Thursday is oh so sad.

Eagle flies on friday and Saturday I get paid
Yeah,
Eagle flies on friday and Saturday I get paid.
Sunday I go to church and I kneel down and pray

Lord have mercy Lord have mercy on me
Lord have mercy Lord have mercy on me
I'm just a sinner as plainly you can see.......

Woke up this morning feeling for my shoes.........
 

saxplorer

Senior Member
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878
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Surrey, UK
Listen to this guy a while, and you can't BUT absorb the structure of the blues ... count the bars (seriously!). Pride and Joy is pretty up-tempo, Texas Flood (the next clip) is much slower, but equally faithful to the blues form (and seriously worth listening to also!)

 

zelda

On the border
Messages
547
Locality
British Columbia interior, Canada
Well they call it stormy monday but tuesday's just as bad
Yeah,they call it stormy monday but tuesday's just as bad
Wednesday is worse and Thursday is oh so sad.

Eagle flies on friday and Saturday I get paid
Yeah,
Eagle flies on friday and Saturday I get paid.
Sunday I go to church and I kneel down and pray

Lord have mercy Lord have mercy on me
Lord have mercy Lord have mercy on me
I'm just a sinner as plainly you can see.......

Woke up this morning feeling for my shoes.........


I thought the line "Eagle flies on Friday" meant payday. Some American (US) currency has the bald eagle on it and Friday was payday traditionally here in Canada and the US. And he went out to play on Saturday (night); got good and hammered, that is.
Jim
 

zelda

On the border
Messages
547
Locality
British Columbia interior, Canada
Listen to this guy a while, and you can't BUT absorb the structure of the blues ... count the bars (seriously!). Pride and Joy is pretty up-tempo, Texas Flood (the next clip) is much slower, but equally faithful to the blues form (and seriously worth listening to also!)


Right you are about 'feeling' the changes. I was playing 12 bar rock and roll on guitar for about two years, 1963-64, before I had a clue what a bar or a measure was. I just 'knew' when. And of course, Stevie's bass player, Tommy Shannon, is pretty good at doing a walk-up to cue the I to IV change.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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14,777
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
I thought the line "Eagle flies on Friday" meant payday. Some American (US) currency has the bald eagle on it and Friday was payday traditionally here in Canada and the US. And he went out to play on Saturday (night); got good and hammered, that is.
Jim

Artistic licence
 

kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
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cocks hill perranporth KERNOW
I thought the line "Eagle flies on Friday" meant payday. Some American (US) currency has the bald eagle on it and Friday was payday traditionally here in Canada and the US. And he went out to play on Saturday (night); got good and hammered, that is.
Jim
The Royal Navy lower deck expression for 'pay-day' bowdlerises (naturally) the American expression as "The golden eagle..... excretes" ...... or something of identical meaning but rather more earthy...
 

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