8 Bar Blues For Beginners
In this lesson Jon gives us an introduction to the 8 bar blues, including the form, left hand patterns, right hand voicing techniques, and the feel and groove.
If you are new to the 8 bar blues, spend some time to fully absorb the basic chord changes and form presented in this lesson. It’s important to have a solid understanding of the basics before we move onto the chord substitutions and reharmonisations presented in the next lessons.
8 Bar Blues vs 12 Bar Blues
There are lots of different ways of playing the blues and one of those is the 8 bar blues, commonly played in New Orleans. It has a different dynamic sensibility to the 12 bar blues and can be played straight or with a triplet feel. It’s also a form that invites chord substitutions – it can be very simple or as harmonically sophisticated as you choose.
Junkers Blues Left Hand Pattern
An early 8 bar blues tune is Junker’s Blues and looking at this we can see the basic harmonic structure and a useful left hand bass pattern:
Practicing this left hand pattern is a useful hand independence exercise for playing the blues and more specifically New Orleans style blues piano.
Right Hand Chords & Voicings
The right hand in this tune makes great use of the 5, in this case C, as a pivot to move from one chord to another. The right hand chords are voiced either side with the 5th which strengthens the sound of the right hand:
This style of right hand voicing is also found in Cuban music and other styles from the Caribbean.
Hand Independence & Coordination
Putting the left and right hand parts together is a great way to start getting some coordination between both hands. It’s worth remembering that the piano in this context is a percussion instrument and the left and right hand parts simulate a drummer.
8 Bar Blues Introduction Lesson Notation File Type: pdf