The 12-Bar-Blues

The 12-Bar-Blues

Notes: Learn about the "Mother of all Blues songs", the 12-Bar-Blues

The normal "12-bar-Blues" usually consists of 3 chords. Usualy named as "I-IV-V"-chords, alternatively as Tonic - Subdominat -Dominant.
The I-Chord is the basic keynote of the Song, from which the two different can be derived. Here we have the scale (without half steps):

With a Blues in C the I-chord is the C chord and so the IV-chord is an F and the V-chord a G-chord.

To test this simply count:


The principle can be found in every typical Bluessong, you just have to count the chords, if you have the keynote, that means the I-chord

Circle of fifth

The simplest and ideal kind to find the suitable chords is to use the "Circle of Fifth". With the following graphic you need to take only one
look at the circle, your I-chord is always the basic keytone and stands above. From there, you turn your circle. Some things are really
simpler than you thought, or?!


Let´s start with some practice!

Our 12-Bar-Blues follows this pattern: E (4 bars) A (2 bars) E (2 bars) B (2 bars) E (2 bars)

Now play a completely simple 12-bar Blues in E

1 2 3 4   5 6  7 8  9 10 11 12
E E E E  A A  E E  B A   E  B

For correct practicing you can also use the GuitarPro-file, with which you can practice, until you can play it easily and fluid!
If it sounds too boring, you can easily add some 7th chords (e.g. E7, A7...). See Lesson 2!


Find the I. IV. and V. chords of the following frequently used keytones for 12-Bar-Blues through counting

1. A
2. D
3. G


1 I. = A IV. = D V. = E
2. I. = D IV. = G V. = A
3. I. = G IV. = C V. = D

Songs based on I-IV-V patterns:

Crossroads (Original from Robert Johnson, played by Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd etc.)
Good morning little schoolgirl (Original from Sonny Boy Williamson, played by Jonny Lang)
Malted Milk (Original Robert Johson, played u.a. von Eric Clapton)
Pretty Woman (Orig. Albert King, played e.b. by Gary Moore)
Pride and Joy (Stevie Ray Vaughan)
Stormy Monday Blues (Orig.?, played by SRV, Eric Clapton, Gary Moore, Allman Brothers etc.)

Practice the Standard 12-Bar-Blues (Key E) - 12-Bar-Blues in E

12-Bar-Blues in E

This still sounds kind of boring and monotonous. Therefore we´ll learn some more chords to the play and to bring more color in your Blues songs.



GuitarPro 12-Bar-Blues in different keys

GuitarPro Strumming 12-Bar-Blues in E

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