Blues Chord Progression

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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That Funky Blues Chord Progression

A blues chord progression is instantly recognizable for its funky, propelling sequence. Generally, it is a 12-chord progression that enhances the mournful quality of the lyrics and the melody. Listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, or Eric Clapton, and you will readily hear the power of the blues chord progression to set a downcast mood.

A dynamic guitar chord progression firmly establishes the blues song. This musical form should convince any player that learning a bunch of chords does not make coherent music, much less evoke an emotional response from a listener. It's the relationship among the chords that is important; a guitar player can either learn music theory, or, especially helpful for a beginner, use a guitar chord poster that details all the needed information.

Circle of Fifths

Chords add dimension and drama to a tune. By anchoring the melody firmly in a key, chords bring tonality, or coherence, to a piece of music. As clearly illustrated in the blues, chords and chord progression give drive to a song and provide resolution to that drive. A tune can sound pretty lonely all by itself, but add chords and progressions, and you can hear the added depth and dimension.

How to get this effect if you are a novice? Use the Circle of Fifths--as generations of musicians have. Developed by a German music theorist in 1728, this clock face shows the relationships among the major and their related minor keys by giving the sharps and flats associated with each one. If you don't know music, and can't figure out the key of a specific song from the song sheet, look at the sharps and/or flats on the staff of the sheet and consult the Circle of Fifths.


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