Improvisation With the 12-Bar Blues, Part 1

One of the easiest ways to learn improvisation, even for beginners, is through using the 12-bar blues. What is this, exactly? Well, it’s a chordal framework players use to get that familiar blues sound.

 

As a template, try these open chords (the bottom and top notes of chords) in the key of C major, left hand:

 

* 4 measures (16 beats) on CM (that is, the note C on the bottom and G on top, played together)

* 2 measures (8 beats) on FM

* 2 measures (8 beats) on CM

* 1 measure (4 beats) on GM

* 1 measure (4 beats) on FM

* 2 measures (8 beats) on CM

 

for a total of 12 measures (bars). Younger students usually find it easier to count number of beats rather than measures. 

 

The right hand can mimic the left hand part, hands together. Then. . . (to be continued).

 Duke Ellington, who's music was heavily influenced by blues roots. 

Duke Ellington, who's music was heavily influenced by blues roots.