12 Bar Blues Masterclass
Learn to play the 12 bar blues with Grammy winner and veteran bluesman Jon Cleary. We explore shuffle patterns, walking bass lines, licks, passing chords, and turnarounds.Buy This Course — $99.00
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Learn to play the 12 bar blues with Grammy winner and veteran bluesman Jon Cleary. We explore shuffle patterns, walking bass lines, licks, passing chords, and turnarounds.
The 12 Bar Blues Course w/ Jon Cleary
The 12 Bar Form & Left Hand Shuffle Patterns
The 12 bar blues tell a kind of story, one that takes you off on a journey and then brings you back home. This 12 bar form consists of three chords, the 1, 4 and 5.
The blues shuffle pattern that underpins this form is simple but it is essential to make the music swing. Spend enough time to practice and master these shuffle patterns as they are the engine that drives the music forward. The left hand is the most important part when playing blues piano.
Basic Blues Voicings & Right Hand Patterns
Once we have established our bass lines we can move onto our right hand chording. Jon talks us through the basics of the blues chord voicings and shows us some variations available for the 1, 4 and 5 chords.
We first start with basic triads shapes and then add 7th chords and some jazzy chord extensions such as 9ths and 13ths.
Blues Piano Riffs For The Right Hand
Next we take a look at a few right hand variations and some useful licks that can be used over all three chords in the blues progression. The notes of this lick are based on the pentatonic scale but we use some passing notes to give it a more interesting bluesy flavour.
We can also add an entire chord to the final note of the phrase which creates a thicker and meatier sound which is characteristic of the New Orleans blues.
Walking Bass Patterns For The Blues
So far we’ve mainly been playing a simple shuffle-style left hand pattern which uses the root, fifth and sixth. However, there are lots of other options available for the left hand. One of these is a 12 bar walking bass patterns where we play octaves in the left hand.
12 Bar Blues Passing Chords
In this lesson Jon shows us some passing chords and chord substitutions, outlining ways to add some elements of surprise into our blues playing.
In the lessons up to this point we have been using the simplest form of the 12 bar blues. In this form there are three essential chords - the 1, 4 and 5 - but as we turn up the level of sophistication we can start adding more chords to this basic frame. As we do this we get closer to a New Orleans-style blues.
New Orleans Style Turnarounds
The turnaround in its most basic form consists of four chords, beginning and ending with C. It should sound familiar, we often hear guitarists using it to start a song.
The New Orleans style turnaround is often embellished with trills in both the left and right hand. These kinds of sounds were introduced by early blues piano players and they act in a way like a drumroll.
Learn how to play a blues shuffle for the 12 bar blues. We explore bass line examples and discuss the role of swing in our left hand shuffle patterns.
In this lesson we build on the foundation we laid with the left hand by exploring right hand blues patterns. Jon talks us through the basics of the right hand and shows us some variations available for the 1, 4 and 5 chords.
Jon demonstrates some signature right hand licks and phrases when playing the 12 bar blues. We discuss the theory and explore variations.
In this lesson Jon takes us through some left hand variations on a 12 bar blues including walking bass lines and the New Orleans style tuba bass lines.
In this lesson Jon shows us some passing chords and substitutions, outlining ways to add some elements of surprise into the 12 bar blues.
In this lesson Jon explores on the turnaround chord progression found at the end of the blues form and shows us ways to expand and embellish it.
In this lesson Jon summarises all of the elements he has covered in the previous lessons and incorporates them into a fully fleshed out 12 bar blues.