Sixteen-bar blues

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The sixteen-bar blues can be a variation on the standard twelve-bar blues or on the less common eight-bar blues. Sixteen-bar blues is also used commonly in ragtime music.[citation needed]

Adaptation from twelve-bar progression[edit]

Most sixteen bar blues are adapted from a standard twelve-bar progression,[citation needed] i.e.,

by applying one of several formulae including the following:


(1a) Twelve-bar progression's first tonic chords (bars 1-4) are doubled in length or repeated, becoming the first half (bars 1-8) of the sixteen-bar progression

(1b) Twelve-bar progression's last dominant, subdominant, and tonic chords (bars 9, 10, and 11-12, respectively) are doubled in length, becoming the sixteen-bar progression's 9th-10th, 11th-12th, and 13th-16th bars[citation needed]

(2a) Twelve-bar middle section (subdominant on bars 5-6, tonic on 7-8) is repeated, often along with its lyrical-melodic material

(2b) Transition from ninth (dominant) to tenth (subdominant) twelve-bar chord is repeated twice[citation needed]

(3) Transition from ninth (dominant) to tenth (subdominant) twelve-bar chord is repeated once; last tonic chord bars are doubled in length

Adaptation from eight-bar progression[edit]

Alternatively, a sixteen bar blues can be adapted from a standard eight bar blues by repeating each measure of the eight-bar progression and playing the result at double speed (doppio movimento).[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Blues. Hal Leonard Corporation. 1995. pp. 112–113. ISBN 0-7935-5259-1. 
  2. ^ a review of Elijah Wald (2005). Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues, Amistad. ISBN 0-06-052423-5 on Google group