Reharmonising The Blues
In this lesson we devote some attention to harmony. When studying New Orleans music it’s easy to concentrate on the rhythmic aspects. However, the way we structure our chord progressions and harmonies is also very important.
The I – IV – V Harmonic Structure
If we look at harmonic structure in its most basic sense we have the I also known as the tonic. The IV also known as the subdominant, and the V also as the dominant.
In the key of C Major, C would be the tonic, F would be the subdominant, and G would be the dominant. These 3 chords are the constituent elements of a Blues or Rhythm N Blues tune.
Passing Chords & Reharmonisations
We start by exploring simple passing chords and formulas to move between the I, IV, and V chords. The are a virtually infinite amount of passing chord variations and reharmonisations that can be applied to a simple blues tune.
We start with some simple examples and we gradually apply more complex and sophisticated substitutions.
8 Bar Blues & 12 Bar Blues
In the key of C, we take the basic form of the 8 bar blues and the 12 bar blues. We explore the different ways that can embellish the chord changes with passing chords and sometimes reharmonise multiple measures to achieve more sophisticated harmonies and chord changes.
Blues Reharms & Passing Chords File Type: pdf
Reharmonising The Blues File Type: pdf
As a piano player, it's important how we structure our harmonies and chord progressions.
The transition from the I chord to the IV chord is a perfect opportunity to embellish the basic changes in the blues.
Study Jon's examples of passing chords between the I and the IV and apply this to the blues in multiple keys.
All examples in this lesson are played in the key of C. Remember that these passing chords and substitutions can be applied to the blues in any key.
Start in a small range of the piano and then expand the principles across the whole range of the keyboard.
Take these ideas as initial inspiration. Listen to lots of recordings and transcribe the passing chords and reharms that you like.