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Amazing Blues Chord Progressions
by Mike Hayes

Music can be divided into two schools of thinking: classical and jazz; if we look closely at the type of harmonic progressions used in jazz we will discover that they are largely blues based progressions, most guitar players are familiar with the basic blues progressions however not many progress too deeply into the more sophisticated blues generally because they don't know where to start.

I'll concentrate on the standard twelve bar format for today's article but don't forget to do some research into the eight, sixteen and twenty-four bar forms of the blues.

All progressions will be presented in the key of C.

Let's start with a simple twelve bar blues so we can us it as a reference template for more complex progressions.

Progression #1

C /// | C /// | C /// | C /// |

F /// | F /// | C /// | C /// |

G7 ///| G7/// | C /// | G7/// || C (last time)

In our first progression notice the 'F' chord in bar five; the 'C' chord in bar seven and the 'G7; chord in bar ten.

Progression #2 will take the listener on an exciting journey through some new harmonic territory however notice how the chords still arrive at the same harmonic milestones as in the basic blues progression #1; e.g.,'F' chord in bar five; the 'C' chord in bar seven and the 'G7; chord in bar ten.

Progression #2

C6 /// | Dm7 / D#Dim / | C6 /// | Gm7 /C7 / |

F6 /// | Fm6 / Fm / | C6 /// | Em7 /A7 / |

Dm7 ///| G7 / / / | C / F /| C / G7+/ || C (last time)

Sample harmonic analysis:

* Bar 1: C6 - the major sixth can be used as a substitute for a major chord

* Bar 2: the Dm7 chord creates movement, it's the second chord in the scaletone seventh harmonization of a C major scale. The D# diminished chord is used as a chromatic chord to create tension; diminished chords are often used as harmonic devices to connect diatonic chords from the scaletone seventh family.

* Bar 4: Gm7 to C7 is a two, five progression in the key of 'F' major which resolved on the one chord of 'F' major in bar five.

* Bar 6: the movement from 'F' major in bar five to 'Fm6' in bar six creates a sense of downward movement and is a common blues substitution in many basic blues progressions; like the major
sixth chord the minor sixth can be used as a substitution for a minor chord.

* Bar 8: Em7 to A7 heralds another harmonic shift to a new 'key of the moment, this time the key of 'D' major i.e., Em7 to A7 is a two, five progression in the key of 'D' major.

* Bar 9 & 10: yet another 'key of the moment' this time to the key of 'C' major i.e., Dm7 (bar 9) to G7 (bar 10) is a two, five progression in the key of 'C' major which resolves to the one chord 'C' in bar eleven.

* bar 11: a straight forward one, four progression in the key of 'C' major.

* bar 12: chord one 'C' to the altered five chord (G7+) the standard chord would have been a dominant seventh (G7) in this instance we are using a 'G' dominant seventh with a sharpened (augmented) fifth.

The 'G' whole tone scale will work nicely over this chord.

I've only skimmed the surface with this basic analysis, there's a heap of other things waiting to be discovered by guitarists who are prepared to take their time and develop their harmonic perception skills, it's definitely worth the effort if you want to play great lead guitar solos.

And now I'd like to invite you to get free access to my "How To Remember 1,000 Songs" eCourse. You can download the course for free at:

Mike Hayes is a guitar teacher, author, performing musician and session guitarist with over 30 years of professional experience. Mike's methods are legendary and have earned the praise of top authorities in guitar instruction. He reveals his guitar secrets at

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