How To Count Slow Blues
In this lesson we learn how to count the slow blues. The blues can be counted in 4/4, but when playing slow blues piano the underlying pulse is typically felt in 12/8.
In this lesson, you’ll master counting in 12/8 and develop a solid understanding of this time feel when playing slow blues piano.
Changing The Feel: 4/4 vs 12/8
When playing in 4/4, each bar is split into 4 beats. The counting in 4/4 would be as follows:
- 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, etc…
When playing in 12/8 the four beats of the bar still exist but they are further subdivided into triplets which gives us 12 x 8th note triplets in each bar. This can be counted in the following ways:
1-&-a 2-&-a 3-&-a 4-&-a, 1-&-a 2-&-a 3-&-a 4-&-a, etc…
1-2-3 2-2-3 3-2-3 4-2-3, 1-2-3 2-2-3 3-2-3 4-2-3, etc…
1-2-3 4-5-6 7-8-9 10-11-12, 1-2-3 4-5-6 7-8-9 10-11-12, etc…
The pattern can also be vocalised by saying the word “trip-e-let” for each beat of the bar and emphasising the 3 syllables in the word. All of these approaches can be used and so pick the counting approach that feels the most comfortable for you.
Isolating the 12/8 pulse
In the first exercise, our right hand plays the 3rd and 7th of the chord on each triplet subdivision and our left plays a shell voicing (root and 7) on beat 1 of each bar.
For the second exercise we focus on outlining the 12/8 pulse in our left hand. We create a simple left hand bass line pattern which we can play over all 3 chords in the 12 bar blues form.
In the next lesson of this course we introduce a simple right hand melody and fill technique that compliments the left hand bass line pattern covered in this tutorial.
Internalizing 12-8 Pulse, Drills & Patterns File Type: pdf