12 Bar Blues Progressions

On this page we will illustrate several standard 12 Bar Blues Progressions. We will start with the simplest – in terms of the number of times the chords change – and work our way through examples with chords changing more often.

Example 1

Although Example 1 is a very commonly employed 12 Bar Blues Progression – especially in 50’s and 60’s rock songs – it would not be considered the most stereotypical due to the repeated V chord in measure 10. Instead, a more stereotypical example would change to the IV chord in measure 10. However, this example is first in our list because it has the fewest chord changes throughout the 12 bars compared to the other examples. In this example we play the I chord during measures 1 – 4, then change to the IV chord for measures 5 – 6, then change back to the I chord for measures 7 – 8, then change to the V chord for measures 9 – 10, then change back to the I chord again for measures 11 – 12. In total, we change chords four times throughout the 12 bars.

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The following song, “Birthday” by The Beatles, employs the chord progression used in Example 1. After a short drum fill, the entire band plays through the above illustrated 12 bar progression as an intro to the song. Then the first verse of the song is sang over the repeated 12 bar progression. After this first verse is where the song departs from the 12 bar figure above, then returns to it again before the song ends.

Example 2

Example 2 is a more stereotypical example of a 12 Bar Blues Progression because of the change from the V to the IV chord in measures 9 – 10 (compared to Example 1 where measure 10 repeats the V chord again).

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The following song, “Shake, Rattle and Roll” by Joe Turner, employs the 12 Bar Blues Progression from Example 2. With the exception of the 4 bar intro, and the ending tag, this song is a “strict” 12 bar blues, continuously repeating the 12 bar pattern in both the verses and the choruses throughout the entirety of the song. Compare this to the song for Example 1 where the song departs from the set 12 bar pattern after just two times.

Example 3

More info and examples coming soon!

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Example 4

More info and examples coming soon!

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Lots More To Come

This is a brand new website being developed as you read this. So please check back from time to time as more information gets added. Thanks for reading and listening!