Playing 12 Bar Blues Chords in C
Using your RIGHT HAND perform using a shuffle rhythm the chords (with inversions) of the 12 bar blues in the key of C.
Make sure you can play the following chords on the piano using the proper inversions (see below)
*You will be assessed on your ability to perform live for Mr. Johnston in class:
- perform in the RIGHT HAND the 12 bar blues chord structure on the piano using root, 1st, and 2nd inversions to smooth out your performance.
- They should be performed using a shuffle rhythm.
- The 12 bar progression should be performed in a steady tempo with accurate pitches using the right hand.
High marks of 8 will be given for playing the 12 bar progression in tempo using a shuffle rhythm without any pitch mistakes
A grade of 7 for performing with no more than two mistakes and in tempo
A grade of 6 for performing the 12 bar progression without a steady tempo and a couple of mistakes
A grade of 5 for performing the 12 bar progression without a steady tempo and a few mistakes
A grade or 4 or lower if you can not perform it unless you have help from Mr. Johnston – grade will alter depending on the amount of help given.
Criteria A and B . These grades will become part of the Bass Line Challenge assessment grading.
12 Bar Pattern
We will need to play 3 different triad (3 NOTE) chords to play a 12 bar Blues in the key of C. They are: C, F, and G. ALL three of these are Major chords.
FORMULA FOR CREATING MAJOR TRIADS
- start on the root pitch of the chord – if you are creating a C Major Triad then the root is C
- to find the next pitch of the chord go up 4 semitones (in this case E)
- then continue counting semitones 5,6, and 7 and that is the third pitch (in this case G)
CHORDS USING ROMAN NUMERALS: One thing we do when creating triads in a Major key is to name and identify each chord using a Roman Numeral number. These are called Diatonic Triads (the triads found in that key). This will give us the opportunity to transfer these chords to ANY key.
This helps us when we want to change the song to another key. If we are playing the ‘I’ one chord in C major it would be C. If we wanted to change the key to F the ‘I’ one chord would be F and so on.
The “I” (one) chord starts on the Doe or Tonic of the key. In the key of C Major that would be C.
The three chords we need for the Blues scale are the
I chord, the IV chord and the V chord. These are the Primary Triads
Here are the three chords we need to play. See if you can play them on the piano keyboard. Play them for your partner to double check that you have played them correctly.
LISTEN TO this famous song by Led Zeppelin to hear the I IV V chord progression.
Led Zeppelin – “Rock and Roll”
The classic jam song – almost every garage band has blustered their way through this legendary Led Zep track at least once, and it’s a perennial encore jam song for top-tier superstars. Even Van Halen have been known to throw this one into their set. The studio version includes some heavy guitar layering, but to get right to the heart of the song’s I-IV-V goodness, check out the live version of “Rock and Roll” from The Song Remains the Same.
Playing the Blues Chords using INVERSIONS
Now to make your playing easier you can use the following Inversions to make it easier to play so you do not have to move your hand position too much. Try them out. To make these three chords easier to play we can put the notes in a different order.
I – C MAJOR – Root Position
IV – F MAJOR – 2nd inversion (move the top two notes up and keep the C) (Click HERE for more on inversions)
V – G MAJOR – 2nd inversion (move everything or all three notes up one white key)
Here is the 12 bar Blues form again so you can play along with the audio track below. Just play the C chord 4 times. The F chord 2 times. The C chord 2 times. The G chord one time. The F chord one time. And finish with the C chord 2 times. Then it starts all over again.
OR USING ROMAN NUMERALS
– play the chords using a bouncing SHUFFLE RHYTHM instead of straight eighths.
WALKING BASS LINE
HERE is the 12 bar Walking Boogie Bass Blues Progression from above in NoteFlight. Try to play along with the NoteFlight version below.
FOUR NOTE DOMINANT 7TH CHORDS
If you are really doing well try the Task 5 challenge that uses 4 note Dominant 7th chords and a more interesting chord pattern. Try it out and see what you think.