Twelve-Bar Blues

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Iman Rahimipour

Musician, Composer, Instructor

Playing his guitar backstage

Maybe you’ve heard the twelve-bar blues term in many songs, performances, YouTube videos, and so on.
The twelve-bar blues are the most popular chord progression in the blues genre, consisting of 12 bars that follow a chord’s specific order.

In twelve-bar blues, each phrase consists of 12 bars that the soloist can improvise over this phrase over and over. This phrase is known as chorus, and we usually have a turnaround at bar 12 to repeat the section or the phrase.

Twelve-bar blues chord structure:

The most important chords in twelve-bar blues are I, IV, and V chords. The chord I is Tonic, the IV is Subdominant, and the V is Dominant.

Here is a structure of twelve-bar blues:

Twelve bar blues chord turnaround explained

In the image above, you can see that the last chord of the twelve-bar is the V chord, which is a turnaround and gives the audiences an incomplete sense of ending and prepare them to turn back to the beginning of the chord progression ( Incomplete Cadence )

Let's Find The Chords For G Blues

In the G scale, the first chord is G, the fourth is C and the fifth is D. For making a more bluesy sound, we can use the Dominant 7th chord, so we will have G7, C7, D7.

Blues in G - Turnaround - Iman Music Studio

Full Cadence

In this image, you can see that the last bar is the I chord or the Tonic chord, which is a full cadence.

Twelve bar blues chord progression

Twelve Bar Blues in G, Full Cadence

Blues in G - Iman Music Studio



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