In the previous lessons, we had covered how to play the blues in the major keys. Today, I would now like to take a little time to discuss the minor blues which follows a similar 12 bar structure.
The only difference between the major and minor blues is the quality of the chords. In the major blues the 1, 4 and 5 chords are all dominant 7th chords with a major third in the chord.
In the minor blues the 1 and 4 chord become minor 7th chords. The 5 chord typically stays a dominant 7th but it can be minor as well. Check out the following example in the key of A minor.
Download .mp3 file for audio example 14 ( Right-click Save Target as… )
Now let’s make things a little more interesting by using barre chords. As I said earlier, I think the barre chords sound better to my ear. You can also have more control over what you hear. To sound hipper, we will also use minor 7th chords this time instead of just the plain minor triads.
Download .mp3 file for audio example 15 ( Right-click Save Target as… )
Again, did you noticed the pattern is the same as that we had in the major blues. The 1 and 4 chords are in the same fret and the 5 chord is two frets higher. You should easily be able to move the minor blues to any key by starting in the correct fret.
Here is a different fingering you can use on the 1 chord.
If you find this chord difficult to play, you can always use the one on the previous lesson. You should try to learn as many variations on these chords as you can. There are many ways to spice up these chords by adding extra tones like the 9th or the 13th.
If you don’t know what this means don’t worry about it. This is in the realm of music theory and after you master these basics you can move on to some of these other chords and sounds. For those who are interested in learning more details, I recommend that you click here and check out this resource.
Download .mp3 file for audio example 16 ( Right-click Save Target as… )
If you have been working through all of this material, you would have learnt quite a bit by now. By now, you should be able to play the 12 bar blues in all keys using barre chords with the root chord starting on the 6th string or the 5th string. You should also be able to play a shuffle rhythm using a couple of variations and in all 12 keys.
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