Tip #50 – Framing with a 12-Bar Blues

Maybe you have already heard the term “12-bar blues” before. On the other hand, maybe not. Anyways, as a little tip: you can use the 12-bar blues form as a beginning step to form the structure and harmonic progression of you musical composition.

The reason why it is called 12-bar blues is because… it takes place over 12 bars of measures and is commonly found in the blues style. Shocking, I know.

Below is the most common use form and harmonic progression of the 12-bar blues. Notice how each of the chords in the measure spaces are dominant chords, regardless as to if they are the I, IV, or V of the key.

Once again, this is just a beginning frame. You can most certainly experiment with substituting chords and changing other factors. Like how an artists needs a canvas to first structure their genius, so does a composer.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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