How To Write A Blues Song?

How To Write A Blues Song

How are blues songs written?

The 12-bar blues is the blues style that is played and heard the most frequently. When referring to the structure of a standard blues song, the phrase “12-bar” refers to the number of measures, also known as musical bars, that are utilized to convey the main idea.

  • The vast majority of blues music is performed to a time signature that is labeled as 4/4.
  • This indicates that each measure or bar has four beats, and that each quarter note is equivalent to one beat.
  • A 12-bar blues is broken up into three separate sections of four bars each.
  • A basic blues progression, also known as a series of notes, generally consists of three chords that are based on the first note (written as I), the fourth note (written as IV), and the fifth note (written as V) of an eight-note scale.

The first four bars are dominated by the I chord, the IV chord normally occurs in the second four bars (but in the example below, Elmore James introduces it in the first four bars), and the V chord is played in the third four bars. The I chord is the dominant chord in the first four bars.

A song’s lyrics will frequently follow what is known as an AAB pattern if it is a 12-bar blues tune. The first and second four-bar verses are referred to as “A,” while the third four-bar verse is referred to as “B.” The first and second lines of a 12-bar blues are repeated, while the third line is a response to the previous two lines, although it frequently include a twist.

The following is an illustration of a 12-bar blues verse taken from Elmore James’s rendition of “Dust My Broom,” which has been dissected into its individual bars (measures), beats, chords, and lyrics: The purpose of the third four-bar segment in each 12-bar stanza (in the example given above, the ninth through twelfth bars) is to provide resolution to the two four-bar segments that came before it.

  1. If the song is going to continue, the resolution will set up the following stanza, and this transition will be referred to as the turnaround.
  2. If the song does not conclude after this stanza, the resolution will indicate the conclusion of the song.
  3. For instance, the song “Dust My Broom” is broken up into seven stanzas of 12 bars each, with a turnaround in between each one.

Although not all blues songs are structured in a 12-bar style, becoming familiar with this fundamental musical framework enables the listener to have a greater comprehension of and enjoyment for all blues music.

What makes a good blues song?

What exactly is blues music, and how did it get its name in the first place? – The blues may be classified as both a musical form and a genre of music. The term “the blues” refers to a depressed state of mind, which is where the genre of music got its name.

  1. When we have “the blues,” we are experiencing feelings of sadness.
  2. The blues, on the other hand, has evolved over time to cover a larger range of topics and feelings, adopting a more general objective of using music to “chase away the blues.” Blues music is characterized by its distinctive chord progressions, walking bass line, call-and-response structure, discordant harmonies, syncopation, melisma, and flattened “blue” notes, among other characteristics.

Microtonality, or the use of pitches that fall in between the semitones on a piano keyboard, is a characteristic of blues music. When playing electric guitar, this is most commonly accomplished by utilizing a metal slide to create a whining effect. As a direct consequence of this, blues may include a lot of different colors.

Six of the most accomplished female classical guitarists in the world The blues scale is a six-note scale that is formed of the minor pentatonic scale as well as an additional flatted fifth note. This scale provides the basis for the majority of the melody, harmony, and improvisations that are used in blues music.

There are even lengthier variants of the blues scale that make advantage of more chromaticism, most notably by flattening the third, fifth, and seventh notes. These variants of the blues scale are less common. The twelve-bar blues is the most prevalent version of the blues, however performers will occasionally choose the eight-bar or sixteen-bar blues styles.

The fundamental chord pattern for a twelve-bar blues is as follows: I I I I – IV IV I I – V IV I I. This progression is used throughout the song. This is typically accompanied with a call-and-response style that utilizes an AAB framework for its lyrics. This is where the blues genre got its renowned call-and-response aspect.

The evolution of the blues over the years has resulted in the development of a variety of distinct subgenres. These subgenres sometimes incorporate elements of other musical styles, such as blues rock and country blues. Other types of blues music are classified according to where they originated, such as Chicago blues and Delta blues.

How do you write a blues melody?

VI. Jazz Megan Lavengood

  • The lyrics of a blues song with a sung text typically have a phrase that is repeated, then followed by a line that offers a contrast to the previous line ( aab ). This form is frequently replicated in the melody as well.
  • Blues songs frequently have significant pauses that serve the purpose of facilitating a call-and-response dynamic between the melodic instrument and the other instruments.
  • The blues scale is similar to the, except it adds a chromatic tone at the end: do–me–fa–fi–sol–te (hat1–downarrow–hat3–hat4–uparrow–hat4–hat5–downarrow–hat7).
  • Do, re, ri, mi, sol, and la are the notes that make up the major blues scale, which may be created by rotating the blues scale such that it starts on its second note. This creates the major blues scale.

This chapter examines many of the melodic developments in blues music that contributed to the formation of blues music as we know it today. This book will use “Gulf Coast Blues,” written by Clarence Williams and recorded by Bessie Smith in 1923, as an illustration of one of the earliest blues songs that was ever put on record.

  1. Smith was an extremely successful blues artist commercially during this time period.
  2. One example might be the recording of “Gulf Coast Blues” (1923) by Bessie Smith and Clarence Williams.
  3. Because so much blues music is sung, words play a significant part in the music that falls under this category.
  4. It is standard practice to match the four-bar phrases that make up a 12-bar blues with lyrics that have an aab structure.

This means that the first line is stated, then repeated (often with some variation), and the third line contrasted. This is illustrated by Clarence Williams’s “Gulf Coast Blues,” which was written in 1923. ( Example 2 ). In many songs, the repeated phrase will be accompanied by a repeated melody, which will imitate the aab structure of the words.

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structure lyric
a The man I love, he has done left this town
a The man I love, he has done left this town
b And if it keeps on raining, I will be Gulf Coast bound.

Here is an example of some lyrics from Clarence Williams’s song “Gulf Coast Blues.” The concept of is yet another fundamental component of blues phrase structure. It is quite likely that this characteristic was passed down through the labor songs of enslaved Africans and African Americans.

  • The vocal melody with lyrics performs the function of the “call,” while an instrumental filler performs the function of the “answer” in this song.
  • Take note that in “Gulf Coast Blues,” every line denoted with an an is sung in its whole and solely inside the first two measures of the phrase.
  • This is the case in all of the other blues songs as well.

This call-and-response interaction is demonstrated through the use of annotations in Example 3, which is a transcription of “Gulf Coast Blues.” Example 3: The melody of “Gulf Coast Blues” contains a call-and-response structure. As a rule, blues harmonies do not remain in a single diatonic key, which is contrary to the conventions of tonal music; also, blues melodies are chromatic, which is appropriate given the harmonies.

  • The blues scale, which can be seen notated in the upper staff of Example 4, is an attempt to generalize the technique of playing blues melodies into a scale that novice improvisers may use as a basis for their melodies.
  • The blues scale is just a, but it has an additional chromatic passing tone that leads up to the sol (hat5) position.

Example 4: The use of the C blues scale in conjunction with the I and V chords of the C major scale results in a collision of musical styles. Despite the fact that it contradicts with the harmony that is being employed underneath, this blues scale is used in both major and minor blues melodies.

When this scale is used in conjunction with the chords of the major blues—I, V, and IV, or C major, F major, and G major in the key of C—the characteristic clashes between mi/me (hat3/downarrowhat3) and ti/te (hat7/downarrowhat7) become particularly apparent. In the key of C, these chords correspond to C major, F major, and G major, respectively.

These collisions frequently result in sounds that are neither completely flat nor completely natural, but rather fall somewhere in the between. Blue notes appear to bridge the gap between mi and me (hat3/downarrowhat3) or ti and te (hat7 anddownarrowhat7).

What is an example of a blues song?


Title First recorded by Charting single(s) by
‘ All Your Love (I Miss Loving) ‘ Otis Rush
‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ Big Joe Williams The Orioles (1952) Them (1964) Amboy Dukes (1968) AC/DC (1975)
‘Baby What You Want Me to Do’ Jimmy Reed Jimmy Reed (1960) Etta James (1964)
‘Blues with a Feeling’ Rabon Tarrant Little Walter (1953)

What are the 3 blues chords?

How To Write A Blues Song How To Write A Blues Song How To Write A Blues Song How To Write A Blues Song We’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the second video in the Blues Guitar Quick-Start Series. The development of the conventional 12-bar blues is going to be the topic of discussion for this session, which will cover something that is extremely fundamental to the blues.

  • We’re going to keep things straightforward by simply utilizing power chords so that we can zero in on learning this pattern and ingraining it in your head as quickly as possible.
  • It’s crucial to know the 12-bar blues progression since it serves as a jumping off point whenever musicians gather together.

If you are all familiar with the typical progression for a 12-bar blues song, then you are all aware of where to begin. If you do decide to switch things up, it will be simple to do so because you will already be familiar with the development. When it comes to the blues, let’s speak about the keys, shall we? When you look at a written out piece of blues music, you will frequently notice that there is no key signature mentioned on it.

It might only state what key the song was composed in, such as the key of E blues or the key of A blues. This is due to the fact that the blues is a form of hybrid tonality that falls midway between major and minor tonalities. Keeping this in mind, we’ll be playing the blues in the key of E for the entirety of this course.

The first chord is a one chord, the second chord is a four chord, and the third chord is a five chord. This is the typical blues progression for 12 bars. The first chord in a blues progression played in the key of E is an E chord, the fourth chord is an A chord, and the fifth chord is a B chord.

  1. Let’s speak about the beat of blues, shall we? All of the jam songs that I have prepared for you in this series are in 4/4 time, which indicates that each measure has four pulses, often known as beats.
  2. Since 4/4 time is used in a significant number of blues songs, we will continue to focus on it throughout these courses.

A conventional 12-bar blues progression is a sequence of chords that is used for the entirety of a blues song that has 12 measures. To get the feel of blues music properly, you’ll need to master the shuffling feel that the music typically has, and in order to do so, you’ll need to practice a lot.

  1. As you can see in the video, eighth notes played in 4/4 time are typically played in a straight line and are uniformly spaced apart from one another.
  2. After seeing the video in which I show it, it will be much simpler for you to comprehend that a shuffle or swing feel will consist of a long note that is immediately followed by a short note.

The music has a more skipping or rolling quality as a result of this. If you want to take a more technical approach to analyzing a swing feel, you may think of it as three triplets for each beat, with the exception that the middle triplet is removed from each beat.

  1. You may also watch this being played in the video, but for the time being, you shouldn’t worry too much about the technical aspects of it.
  2. You’ve undoubtedly heard this in a number of different blues tunes, so simply focus on perfecting your swing feel.
  3. Let’s go to work on the traditional blues sequence consisting of 12 bars.

As I was saying before, it is a progression of chords that is set during the course of 12 bars of music. You need to commit this information to memory so that you are completely fluent in it. If you take a look at the image that is now displayed on the screen, you will notice that you will have four bars of the chord 1, which, given that we are currently playing in the key of E, means that you will have four bars of an E chord.

Following that, there are two measures of the 4 chord, which is an A chord. After that, you will return to the 1 chord for the next two measures in the key of E. From this point on, you will play the 5 chord, which is a B, for one measure, followed by one measure of the 4 chord, which is A, followed by one measure of the 1 chord, which is E, and then you will end with one measure of the 5 chord, which is B.

You are going to need to commit this sequence to memory. It is likely that it does not signify anything to you at this point because you have not yet heard it or played it. Let’s begin by taking a look at power chords because that’s how we’re going to put this into practice right now.

A power chord in the key of E will serve as the basis for our 1 chord. Just the sixth and fifth strings should be strummed while your index finger is resting on the second fret of the A string. We’ll use a power chord in the key of A for the 4 chord. This will be the same form as the E, with your index finger on the second fret of the D string, and you will only pluck the fifth and fourth strings of the guitar.

We’ll use a B power chord for the 5 chord we’re working on. Only the fifth and fourth strings should be strummed while your index finger is resting on the second fret of the A string and your third finger is resting on the fourth fret of the D string.

To begin the progression, we are going to play four measures of the 1 chord, so be sure that your E power chord is in the correct position. Following that, we will play two measures of the 4 chord, and then go to the A power chord, which will also be played for two measures. In the twelfth measure of the 12-bar blues progression, we return to the 1 chord for one more measure before moving on to the 5 chord for one measure of the B chord, going back down to the 4 chord for one measure, going back up to the 1 chord for one more measure, and then moving on to the 5 chord for one measure to complete the progression.

Begin to commit this development to memory by walking yourself through the process. While you play, keep in mind that you should only be striking two specific strings for each power chord that you play. You have the option of playing eighth notes with a shuffling pattern, or you may play entire notes like I did at the beginning of the video.

  1. If you want to be able to strike exactly the strings you need, you might need to practice your aim with the hand that is strumming the instrument.
  2. The palm of my strumming hand is what I use to mute the low E string while I’m playing A and B power chords on my guitar.
  3. This ensures that the string won’t produce a sound in the event that I unintentionally hit it.

Have a look at the video where we are now to watch me perform the 12-bar blues progression in the key of E with eighth notes, a swing rhythm, and power chords. After seeing the video, you should go through this lesson as many times as you feel is necessary in order to get completely at ease with this development.

Once you feel comfortable with everything you’ve been learning, it’s time to bring up the jam tracks for this session. You have the option of selecting the track that corresponds most closely to your present level of ability, since there is one with 70 beats per minute and another with 100 beats per minute.

If you wish to keep the strumming easy for now, you may do so by playing only whole notes; when you feel ready, however, you can advance to playing swinging eighth notes like I did in the example. For now, you can keep the strumming simple by playing only whole notes.

  1. The evolution of the 12-bar blues should not be undervalued.
  2. Because it serves as the basis for everything else that will be covered in the Blues Guitar Quick-Start Series, it is essential that you become highly proficient in playing it.
  3. The dominant 7th chords are going to be the topic of discussion in the following lesson.

We are going to study some conventional shapes for dominant 7th chords, and then apply those shapes to the traditional blues progression consisting of 12 bars. Dominant 7th Blues Chords Are Covered in the Upcoming Lesson

What are the 12 blues scales?

Root, b3rd, 4th, #4th (b5th), 5th, and b7th are the tones that make up the blues scale. Other tones in the scale include 4th, 5th, and b7th. Example: C Blues scale C, Eb, F, F#, G, Bb, C. The blues scale can be used to create a sound or vibe that is described as “funky,” “bluesy,” “down-home,” or “earthy.”

How many bars are commonly in a blues song?

The 12-Bar Blues Form The 12-Bar Blues Form is the most popular form of the blues, and it consists of a sequence of chord changes repeated 12 times. That is, a chord sequence consisting of twelve bars played over and over again. This is referred to as the “12-Bar Blues.” It is important to keep in mind that a bar is equivalent to a meter.

  • When playing blues, you will often count four beats to each bar, which is known as 4/4 time.
  • This 12-bar cycle will often be played over and over again over the length of a blues song’s performance.
  • It’s possible that a blues tune will play through it twenty times.
  • It is dependent on the particular music being played.

Any key can be used when playing blues music. The 12-bar blues follows the same fundamental chord progression of I, IV, and V chords regardless of the key that you are playing in. It is easiest to think of it as having three pieces of four bars each: the initial four, the middle four, and the last four bars.

Why are blues songs sad?

Form: The blues is primarily a vocal form, despite the fact that musical accompaniment is nearly always included in blues performances. Lyrical rather than narrative, blues songs are about expressing emotions rather than recounting tales, and blues performers do so via song.

The sentiment that is typically conveyed is one of melancholy or despair, which is frequently brought on by difficulties in romantic relationships but can also be brought on by oppression and trying times. Blues musicians use vocal techniques such as melisma (the sustained repetition of a single syllable across multiple pitches), rhythmic techniques such as syncopation, and instrumental techniques such as “choking” or bending guitar strings on the neck, or applying a metal slide or bottleneck to the guitar strings to create a whining voicelike sound.

All of these are attempts to convey this sentiment through the medium of music. The blues is a type of music that is distinguished by its use of emotive ” microtonal ” pitch inflections (also known as ” blue notes”), a three-line literary stanza that follows the form AAB, and a 12-measure structure.

In most cases, the first two and a half meters of each line are devoted to singing, while the last measure and a half of each line consists of an instrumental “break” that either repeats, responds, or compliments the vocal line. In terms of functional harmony, also known as traditional European harmony, the most basic harmonic progression in blues music is as follows (the notes I, IV, and V refer respectively to the first note, also known as the tonic, the fourth note, also known as the subdominant, and the fifth note, also known as the dominant): First Phrase (measures 1–4) I–I–I–I Britannica Quiz Pop Culture Quiz Are you a member of the Pop royal family? Who is the master of culture? The following questions are designed to test your knowledge of various forms of entertainment.

Expression 2 (measures 5–8) IV–IV–I–I Expression 3 (measures 9–12) V–V–I–I Become a Britannica Premium subscriber to receive access to in-depth articles and other special features. Sign Up Right Away African influences may be heard in the tonality of blues music, the call-and-response pattern of the repeating refrain structure of blues stanzas, the falsetto break in the vocal style, and the copying of vocal idioms by instruments, particularly the guitar and the harmonica. How To Write A Blues Song

How do you get the blues tone?

The Short Answer – To begin, adjust your amp such that it has low to moderate gain (2-4), low to moderate bass (2-4), medium to high mids (6-8) and medium to high treble. These settings are appropriate for blues guitar (6-8). If your amplifier includes an internal reverb effect, you should make sure that it is turned on and adjusted to anywhere between 1 and 4.

What tempo is blues music?

Information Regarding Tempo Blues dancing is often performed to music with a 4/4 time signature and a tempo ranging from 40 to 100 beats per minute (10 and 25 measures per minute). You may view a list of blues songs with a tempo ranging from 10 to 25 measures per minute by clicking here.

What scale is used in blues music?

The blues scale is a six-note progression that is common in blues, rock, and country music. It also has its roots in the jazz genre. This scale is simply the pentatonic scale with the addition of one chromatic note, which is also sometimes referred to as the blue note.

What rhythm does the Blues use?

If you are confronted with the task of discussing meter, rhythm, and pace, keep in mind the following:

  • The time signature for blues is often 4/4.
  • syncopation is used to draw attention to the weak beats in the music.
  • It sounds like swing rhythms, with quavers that aren’t quite even and a triplet vibe to the beat.
  • The earliest blues music was played extremely slowly, but as the form progressed, it became quicker.
  • The walking bass provides the song with a consistent beat.

What is a 12-bar blues song?

Can someone explain the 12 Bar Blues to me? The chord sequence known as the “12-bar blues” is the one that is used in blues music the most frequently. Since the beginning of the 20th century, blues artists have been using it, and it can be heard in some of the most well-known blues songs of all time, such as “Sweet Home Chicago,” “The Thrill Is Gone,” and “Pride and Joy” (amongst countless others).

  1. A chord sequence that is called the 12 bar blues is one that is played for a total of 12 bars, also known as measures.
  2. The same 12 bars are played again and over again throughout the whole song.
  3. Usually, there are three chords that make up the succession of chords.
  4. To be more specific, the I, IV, and V chords of any given key serve as the foundation for the 12-bar blues form.

To have a better grasp on the I, IV, and V chords, not to mention their significance in blues music, we need to do a little bit of theory:

How are blue notes created?

A blue note is a note that is sung or performed in jazz and blues at a pitch that is somewhat different from standard. This is done for the aim of expressing emotion. The variation is often somewhere between a quartertone and a semitone, however this might shift depending on the context of the music being played.

How many bars are commonly in a blues song?

The 12-Bar Blues Form The 12-Bar Blues Form is the most popular form of the blues, and it consists of a sequence of chord changes repeated 12 times. That is, a chord sequence consisting of twelve bars played over and over again. This is referred to as the “12-Bar Blues.” It is important to keep in mind that a bar is equivalent to a meter.

  1. When playing blues, you will often count four beats to each bar, which is known as 4/4 time.
  2. This 12-bar cycle will often be played over and over again over the length of a blues song’s performance.
  3. It’s possible that a blues tune will play through it twenty times.
  4. It is dependent on the particular music being played.

Any key can be used when playing blues music. The 12-bar blues follows the same fundamental chord progression of I, IV, and V chords regardless of the key that you are playing in. It is easiest to think of it as being divided into three portions of four bars each: the beginning four bars, the middle four bars, and the last four bars.

Which degrees of the scale are used in a blues song?

The major blues scale consists of the notes 1, 2, 3, 3, 5, and 6, whereas the minor blues scale is 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7.

Which three chords is the 12-bar blues based on?

One of the most common chord progressions in contemporary popular music is known as the 12-bar blues, sometimes called blues changes. The blues progression has a recognizable pattern that may be found in the song’s lyrics, phrases, chord structure, and even its length. Its primary foundation is comprised of a key’s I, IV, and V chords, since this is its most fundamental form.