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Blues Guitar Lessons: Turnaround and Ending

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Now that you've got the 12-bar progression
under your belt, we need to add some
very important ingredients to it.
Those are, the turnaround,
which is the transition between choruses
of a blues song, and the ending.
How do you get out of
the thing when it's all over?
So far we've just been kind of stopping,
we haven't been ending,
we've just stopped, and
when we go from one 12-bar progression to
another one we just roll right on through.
When you listen to 12-bar blues songs
there's almost always an identifiable
transition, a sort of musical figure that
everybody in the band plays together,
each in their own way.
Now what guitar players do is a couple
of chord moves [COUGH] with a specific
rhythm that I'm gonna show you.
Now first of all the turn around,
what is the turnaround?
Well, that's the term that we use for the
last two bars of the 12-bar progression.
So we're thinking of the 12 bars
being 3 sets of 4 bars each.
Right, you've got
the first line of lyrics,
the answer, you repeat that,
you answer it.
You go to the five chord, that's
the third line, and then you answer that.
And then you start the whole
thing all over again.
When you get to the very end after
the third line and you're doing your final
answer before you start the next verse
of the blues, you play this little
pattern which is basically a universal
rhythm that everybody learns to play.
And I'm going to show it to you right now.
Taking it out of context,
here's the five cord,
this is the third line of the 12 bar.
I'm gonna play the five chord, and
then I'm gonna show you the rhythm
pattern that I'm gonna throw in there.
In the key of A.
So I've got five.
And here's the turn around.
One, two, three, four, one.
Now I'm at the top of the next chorus.
And by the way,
when we talk about blues arrangements,
the term verse and
chorus are used sort of interchangeable.
Blues doesn't have usually a bridge,
and a chorus and
a verse like different
parts like pop songs.
It's 12 bars all the way through
from beginning to end and
typically those are referred
to as choruses.
Okay, so I'm going from the first chorus
to the second chorus via the turnaround.
What is the turnaround exactly?
Well you saw I used a couple
chords in there and
I used a certain rhythm at the same time.
So taking the last two bars,
specifically I've got the A,
three, four, and one.
And then I use a new chord and
I combine them with a special rhythm.
First I'll show you the chord.
We know how to play an E7
chord [SOUND] up there.
We can play it down here.
[SOUND] Here's a new voicing,
a new arrangement of those same notes.
Instead of playing a bar chord at
the seventh fret for E [SOUND],
I'm gonna use my third finger on
the fifth string of the seventh fret.
My second finger on the fourth string.
[SOUND] My fourth finger
on the third string there.
my first finger on the second string.
the arrangement of notes there,
if you break it down musically.
I'm playing the root,
[SOUND] that's E, of course.
[SOUND] The third degree of E.
[SOUND] Everything is based on the major
scale and that's what, G-sharp.
[SOUND] The seventh, that's D.
And then I play the E again on top.
So [SOUND] that has the same notes
in it as the other E that I played.
[SOUND] Which has the root, the fifth,
[SOUND] ,the seventh, and
then the third again, right?
[SOUND] Now, the idea of voicings is
that the chord has a certain structure.
This is true of all chords,
all styles of music.
If it's an E chord,
it has a certain structure.
A root, a third, and a fifth.
And in this case, a seventh.
You can arrange those notes in any
order and it's still an E chord.
So we will see some chords later on where
you don't even have E in the base and
we still call it an E chord.
Because the tonality is based on E,
even if the voicing is not built from E.
That'll become clear when
you hear it in context.
But that's how we're playing now, three
different ways of playing an E chord.
And they're all the same but
they're all different.
That's the voicings.
All right.
So there's my new version of E.
And in front of that, I played
the chord a half step up which was F.
[SOUND] Exactly the same
voicing [SOUND] and resolve.
Now what makes it hang together in
the context of the 12 bar is the rhythm,
the timing in other words.
And it's like this.
One, two, three, four, one, two.
[SOUND] And then we start the next chorus.
So it's one, two, three,
four, one two, and.
The two and
is where the half step moves occurs
F To E we're thinking
of it in number terms.
Flat six to five or
just a half step into five.
Now you can also come up from below,
believe it or
not, or even extend that idea
to include more chords and
make the rhythm fancy and all that.
But nine times out of ten
[SOUND] it's just that.
Now, play along with me and we'll see
just how this feels under your fingers.
First it's the chord.
[SOUND] The chord might take a second
just to master the fingering.
Get your hands wrapped around that quick.
[SOUND] But I'll show you how it fits
in and then you can practice the rest.
So we're gonna play one bar of A and
then play the turnaround.
Here we go.
One, two, three, four, one.
And now we're at the top of the next
12-bar progression and so on.
Now at the end of the last bar there,
[SOUND] I threw in a couple
of extra strokes of the pick.
What that does is finish
the rhythmic idea of the turnaround.
It just kinda fills that hole.
And it feels more musical.
So in tempo.
It sorta keeps things moving all
the way through the turnaround.
Now if I'm in another key where
the root of the one chord is on
the fifth string like D, my 12-bar and
I get up to the five chord.
Now I'm gonna play my turn around.
[SOUND] And back to the one I'm
going to play the turn around in D.
Two, three, four, one.
The idea is the same.
In musical terms I just
did the same thing but
I did it in a different key and
I used a different chord voicing.
In this case I'm gonna keep D.
[SOUND] I know that my five cord is A.
[SOUND] I know that the turn around
is a half step into the five.
Alright so I just have to figure
out how to play that A chord there.
Now I could use that big bar
chord that we already know.
[SOUND] But in musical terms you
don't hear blues guys do that so
I'm going to show you
a chord that's more real.
Different version of the same chord.
And so, I take the A7 chord [SOUND],
and I'm actually stripping it down
instead of playing all six strings,
I'm gonna play the sixth string itself,
the fourth string, the third string,
and the second string.
[SOUND] Just those four strings,
each with its own finger.
And you see the fingerings and all that
stuff supplied in the backup materials.
And then I'm gonna do my half step.
[SOUND] So in the key of D,
the turn around sounds like this.
Last two bars, from D.
[SOUND] One, two, three, four.
[SOUND] Now I did that a little [SOUND].
I kind of cheated,
slid into that B-flat chord.
It's a stylistic thing again too.
Just makes it sound
a little bit more musical.
[SOUND] One, two, three four, one.
And I'm back to the top and
I keep playing in the key of D and the
rest of the progression goes on as normal.
[COUGH] So I know how to play a turn
around when the root of the key,
the I chord is on the sixth string.
I know how to play a turnaround when
the I chord is on the fifth string.
How do you end the blues?
Well you end it using the same rhythm,
the same identical rhythm.
And in fact,
we are going to use the same chords, but
we're just kind of using them
in a slightly different context.
So, now I'm at the end of the blues.
It's all over, the band is gonna stop,
the singer gives the signal,
gonna take it out.
And five,
[SOUND] here's the last part of the song.
One, two, here's the ending!
[SOUND] I used the same chord
voicing that I just used
in the key of D, but now,
I'm ending on the I chord,
the turnaround goes to five,
the ending goes to one.
Think of it this way,
one [COUGH] in musical terms is home.
It's where you go at the end of the day.
You're done, you're resting,
and I'm gonna go home.
One is home, five is over there somewhere.
When I go to five I'm basically saying
I'm not done yet, let's keep going.
So the turnaround says let's do it again.
But when you get to the ending,
it's [SOUND] we're done,
we're out of here alright?
So, turnaround goes to
five ending goes to one.
Now, if I'm in the key of D,
I get to my V chord now I'm
gonna end this song [NOISE].
And how did I do that?
Well I took my seventh chord
voicing that I just learned
[NOISE] half step into the I chord.
So five [NOISE] ending.
And I'm done.
Now let's play this with a rhythm track to
hear what it sounds like with the base and
the drums.
So I've got a rhythm track that has
a turnaround rhythm built into it.
And the drummer will go
bang bang on the drums and
the bass player will go
bling bling on the bass.
We all match together so all the
instruments come together on that rhythm,
and then we're going to do
the same thing on the ending.
Now, we'll do this in our test key of A,
convenient key,
but keep in mind that all
12 keys are fair game.
So here we go.
12-bar blues.
We're gonna start with
a boogie shuffle on the one.
When we get toward the end
of the first chorus,
turn around,
end of the second chorus, ending.
Follow me.
Here comes
the IV chord.
Here comes
the V chord.
And here comes the turnaround.
Here's the second chorus now.
IV chord.
Now we're gonna bring
this thing home and end it,
here we go, ending coming right now.
[COUGH] Feels very final
when you hear that last
accent played with the full band.
Now sometimes the bass player will play
right on through, they won't actually play
the accents, sometimes the drummer
will do the same thing.
It's a mix and match kind of thing.
There's an improvisational quality to
a lot of blues rhythm when you listen to
recordings or you see bands live,
it's not always by the book.
That's what gives it a special quality,
but everybody knows that part, everybody
feels that part, and you can choose to
play it or not in a given circumstance.
But we're going to play it all
the time until further notice.
Okay, so now you know how
to play the turnaround and
the ending in any key, right?
If we do the same thing in the key of D,
or the key of E for example.
Here's my I chord.
[SOUND] Five.
And here comes.
[SOUND] Here's my V chord, and
I'm going to play my turn around in E.
Half step, into the V chord.
Start the next chorus, all right?
I'm gonna play my ending in the key of E.
[COUGH] Using my new blues official
dominant seventh cord is there.
So now we've put kind of
a wrapper on the whole thing.
We know how to start it off, how to
play the rhythm all the way through,
we've got that turnaround transition and
we've got the ending.
We've really got the whole
package figured out.
There's more to add, of course,
but practice that stuff.
Especially important to understand V
on the turnaround, I on the ending.
Do not make the rookie mistake of
ending a blues with the V chord.
It's all wrong, and
it will cause the rest of the band and
the audience to cast mean
glances in your direction.
So end the song on the I chord,
using that rhythm, okay, you got it?
See you next next time.