The Blues is credited with being an important influence on rock and roll, jazz and most modern genres. There are several characteristics associated with the blues, one of which is the 12 bar repeating pattern that forms the heart of many blues songs.

The blues chord progression is comprised of chords built off of the 1st, 4th and 5th degrees of the scale. Simply put:

  • If it is a Major key, then chords I, IV and V will be Major.
  • If it is a minor key, then chords i, iv and v will be minor.
    The chords in the 12 bar blues pattern are often played as 7 chords.

A typical blues progression with these chords is:



  • the first four measures represent a “call” using the I chord, sometimes the I and IV chords
  • the second four measures represent a “response”, using the I and IV chords
  • the third four measures represent a “conclusion”, using all 3 chords, usually resolving on the I chord

In the key of C major we have:


In the key of Am we have:


There is a lot more to the Blues. See wikipedia for a glimpse.

Join the discussion on the 12 bar Blues and share your tips.

Join the discussion and tell us why.

Like Us on: