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Blues Guitar Lessons: 12 Bar Variations

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[MUSIC]
Now we've built our little layer cake of
rhythm with the Boogie Shuffle
on the bottom,
the upbeat's in the middle and
the horn section rifts up on top.
So those are three basic templates
that we're gonna be using and
varying, but that's kinda the essence
of how we arrange things,
either bottom, middle or top with
different flavors added accordingly.
Now gonna talk a little
bit more about the 12 bar.
We know how the 12 bar works.
We've got the turn around,
we've got the ending.
There are some very common variations
in the 12 bar progression and
what we've been playing so far is what
you would call the stripped down version,
it's the minimum number of changes.
However, it's quite common to
insert some extra changes in there
just to create a different harmonic flow,
especially at slower tempos you
add more chords to kind of keep
the energy moving forward and so on, but
it's true also in the middle like
medium shuffle range where we are now.
Let's go to the key G, what the heck?
[SOUND] All right.
Now the first variation that I'm gonna
talk about is called the quick change.
The quick change is kind of what it says,
it's pretty intuitive.
You make a chord change quickly.
Now the way that works specifically
is that we're in the key of G now.
[SOUND] My one chord is G.
My four chord is [SOUND] C and
my five chord is D.
So the quick change works
like this in bar two,
instead of staying on the one chord,
I change to the four chord.
Then in bar three,
I return to the one chord.
So remember, we're breaking our 12
bar rhythms in to 3, 4 bar sections.
The two bar call and the two bar
answer and repeat then finish it up.
So in this case,
we're gonna change the call,
we're gonna add that quick change
in the second half of the call,
then return to the normal,
usual answer in bars three and four.
Let's do that first,
I'll demonstrate it for you and
then talk about the other variations.
Very simple stuff, okay.
So quick change in G sounds like this.
I'll just play it by myself,
one, two, three.
[MUSIC]
Change.
[MUSIC]
And back again.
From here on, it's the same old
thing we've always been playing.
Here's the four chord,
[SOUND] back to the one.
Now check this out, five four one.
[MUSIC]
Okay.
So I did the quick change,
I warned you about that one.
Changing to the four chord in bar two.
Now incidentally,
the progression we've been playing,
which does not go to the four chord
is often called the slow change.
But often, they don't say anything.
And that's true of a lot of blues
arranging is nobody says anything,
you just gotta keep your ears open and
listen to see where the bass player
is going,
that's the key to follow the bass player.
So we know what the quick change is.
Now I made another change in
the progression, did you pick up on it?
I went to the five cord, [SOUND] now we
have been staying on that five cord for
two bars, it's a common thing.
But instead, I went five for
a bar, four for
a bar and then back to one and
then the turn around.
[SOUND] Right?
Now that change, five,
four in bars nine and
ten, if I'm not missing my calculation
is an extremely common variation.
In fact, you could probably say,
it's probably more common than staying on
the five for two bars, but
it's six of one, right?
And you have to be ready for either one.
Song by song, there's no rule about
when you do it or when you don't do it.
It's just the way that the players or
the writer hears it.
So easy to pick up, there's only three
chords, how many choices do you have?
Right?
So it's just keeping your ears open.
Now by making these changes, going from
the one chord to the four chord, for
example, and the first and
second bars are going from the five chord
to the four chord in bars nine and ten.
What I've done is take my nice,
neat two bars per chord model and
I've interrupted it,
I've put a change in the middle of it.
Now when you're playing
the Boogie Shuffle, [SOUND] it's easy.
[MUSIC]
You just shift your finger over there,
no sweat, right?
If you're playing the upbeat,
it's also pretty easy.
So I've got my [SOUND] one chord,
four chord.
[SOUND] Back to my one chord.
I can do that no matter what
the arrangement is, it's an easy switch.
Where it's trick is the horn section,
because the horn section riff
that we're using the standard
riff as a two bar phrase.
So what happens when you interrupt
a two bar phrase in the middle and
change chords?
Well, the answer is actually quite simple.
You play the same phrase,
you don't change a thing.
The rhythm stays the same,
but the chord changes.
Let me demonstrate, right?
So we're in the key of G and
let's say my horn riff is this.
Three, four, one.
[MUSIC]
Now I go one.
[MUSIC]
The second half of the riff is in
the second bar.
So when I have a quick change,
then in that second half of the riff,
I'll change the four chord.
All right?
So
I switch chords in the middle of
the phrase like this, three, four, one.
[MUSIC]
Back to the one again.
[MUSIC]
Now I'm on my four cord like usual.
[MUSIC]
Back to the one.
Now five four.
[MUSIC]
Back to one, turnaround.
[MUSIC]
And so on.
Pretty simple stuff, really.
So we're not gonna change the world here,
we're just throwing in
some common variations.
[SOUND] Lets play it
with the rhythm section.
The easiest ones to play
are simply the Boogie Shuffle and
the upbeats, because it doesn't
really change the pattern.
So let's concentrate for the moment on
the horn section and see can you nail
that horn section variation over the quick
change and the five four change.
Okay.
Here we go.
[SOUND] Here we go.
[MUSIC]
Change.
[MUSIC]
Back to one.
[MUSIC]
And the four.
[MUSIC]
Back to our one.
[MUSIC]
Five.
[MUSIC]
Four.
[MUSIC]
And back to one.
[MUSIC]
Turnaround.
[MUSIC]
Quick change.
[MUSIC]
Back to four.
[MUSIC]
One.
[MUSIC]
Five, four.
[MUSIC]
And now we're going to end it.
[MUSIC]
Yeah.
Now when I'm talking an playing,
sometimes it's hard for
me to keep my numbers straight there,
but I think you get the idea.
So you can practice along
with that rhythm track.
It's very common when somebody says, quick
change that it doesn't quite sink in and
I've done it myself and
I've heard lots of players who forget.
And what reminds you is you hear
the bass player go to the four chord and
you go, right.
Yeah.
So you have to keep your
concentration up when you start,
cuz that change happens very quickly.
There's not much time to think about it,
but it's so common.
We'll hear it on all the slow blues songs
and so forth, so just log that one away.
Quick change, five, four.
We're good to go.
[MUSIC]