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Latin Blues Chord Progressions
by Mike Hayes

Learning about chord progressions is a fascinating study it's definitely part of the art of playing rhythm guitar; the ability to enhance the performance by adding the appropriate harmonic texture is very satisfying and gives your music it's own unique sound. In previous articles I have discussed the basic 12 bar blues progressions in this article I'm going to focus on the Latin blues progression. Let's see how we can create a 12 bar blues chord progression with a Latin feel, it will certainly surprise musicians at your next jam session! Here's a quick reminder of the basic set of chords in a 12 bar blues presented in the key of 'C'.

Original chords.

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

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

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

Latin style blues chord progression

Cmaj7 /// | Bm7b5 / E7b9/ | Am /Ab7 / | Gm7 /C7 / |

Fmaj7 /// | Fm7 /// | Em7 /// | A7 /// |

D7 ///| Dm7/G7/ | C /F7/ | Cmaj7/ G7+/ || Cmaj7 (last time)

Harmonic analysis

Bar 1: Cmaj7 substitute for 'C' major chord

Bar 2: Bm7b5 (aka B half diminished) to E7b9 is a two, five progression in the key of A harmonic minor; notice how these two chords resolve to the 'Am' chord in bar three.

It's important to note also that the Bm7b5 to E7b9 is the beginning of a cycle movement chord progression.

Bar 3: 'Am' is the relative minor of 'C' major and in this instance it is being substituted for the 'C' chord in bar three (refer to original chord progression).

The Ab7 is a flat five substitution for a D7 chord; D7 would be the next logical chord to occur in our cyclic chord progression after the 'Am' chord.

How this works:

Notes of D7 = D, F#,A,C

Notes of Ab7 = Ab, C, Gb, Eb

Applying the flat five substitution principle (tri-tone substitution); if we flatten the fifth note of the D7 thereby making the 'A' note an 'Ab' we now have three notes of an 'Ab7' chord.

D7 = D, F#,A,C

D7 with the flat five note = D, F#,Ab,C compare these notes to the notes of an Ab7 chord: Ab, C, Eb, Gb.

When studying this example keep in mind that F# and Gb are the same note.

Bar 4: Gm7 to C7 is a two, five progression in the key of F; notice how this progression resolves to the one chord (Fmaj7) in bar five.

Bar 6: Fm7 is a two chord in the key of 'Eb'.

Bar 7: Em7 is a substitute for Cmaj7 (specifically Cmaj9).

Notes in Cmaj9 = C, E, G, B, D

Notes in Em7 = E, G, B, D

Notice how both chords contain the same notes only the Cmaj9 contains an additional 'C' note therefore it could be correctly stated that a Cmaj9 chord could also be written as Em7/C.

Bar 8: A7 chord continues the cycle movement; A7 is chord five in the key of 'D'.

Bar 9: D7, again part of the cycle movement chord progression; D7 is chord five in the key of 'G'.

Bar 10: Dm7 to G7 is a two five progression in the key of 'C'.

Bar 11: C to F7; a one to four progression.

Bar 12: Cmaj7 to G7+ is a one to altered five progression; G7+ is a G dominant seventh chord with a sharpened fifth.

The 'G' whole tone scale will work well over the G7+ chord.

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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