12/8 Feel For Slow Blues
In this lesson we will learn to feel a 12/8 pulse for a tune written in 4/4. This is useful when improvising in a slow blues style. Generally speaking, when we play slow blues, we play with a 12/8 pulse.
When we have a tune written in 4/4, that means we have 4 quarter notes in each bar. We can count 1-2-3-4 or we can subdivide each quarter note into 8th notes and count 1-&-2-&-3-&-4-& – 1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&
Counting a 12/8 Pulse
Now to feel a 12/8 pulse we can play the each of the 4 beats with a triplet feel. To do this I count 1-&-a-2-&-a-3-&-a-4-&-a or alternatively as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12.
Why do we use a 12/8 pulse?
Well when playing in the slow blues style, our fills and our improvisations are often very triplet-heavy and so it makes sense to feel that underlying 12/8 pulse.
In this lesson we explore some simple fills in bars 2, 4, 6, and 8 when the melody rests. Notice how the fills are often outlining the triplet pulse.
Jingle Bells Reharmonised File Type: pdf
Even though we are counting in 12/8, we still have 1-2-3-4 as the underlying time but the pulse is felt in triplets.
As we will see in the next lessons on improvisation, feeling the 12/8 triplet pulse can help to achieve an authentic slow blues sound.
Play along with the demonstrations in this lesson first by counting out loud and then try to feel and internalise the 12/8 pulse.