Talk:Twelve-bar blues

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History section[edit]

This page needs a history section!! When did the 12-bar riff originate? How? Who? etc. List of randomly selected songs from the 1950s and 1960s is not good enough surely? especially when there were plenty of pop songs from the 1940s i.e. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy that incorporated the 12-bar riff? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:09, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

Accidentals vs. Black Keys[edit]

Looks like a bit of reverting going on. Please folks:

Accidentals are notes that are not part of the key shown in the key signature at the beginning of a stave. The notes in the key of C are: C D E F G A B, no sharps or flats. If you have a note like F#, then it is an accidental if you are playing a piece with a key signature of C.

However, in the key of G, F# is one of the notes in they key. Just because it is sharp, does not make it an accidental.

All the sharps/flats are black notes on a piano, whether they are in the key or not. The sentence really should read "Keyboardists may prefer chords with fewer black keys", not "with fewer accidentals". — Preceding unsigned comment added by Wrolf (talkcontribs) 11:50, 18 April 2009

WRONG! e.g. E#, Fb, B#, Cb, these are white notes, but they are #ed or flatted Gamerktc12 (talk) 14:30, 25 July 2012 (UTC)


Is The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" really twelve bar blues? I just don't see it from the chords as posted on the net. Wrolf (talk) 17:14, 18 April 2009 (UTC)

It certainly is, but people keep taking it out of the article on the song. Ortolan88 (talk) 18:03, 8 April 2013 (UTC)


The twelve bar blues are generally played in the key of A, but can be played in any key, often using 7th & 9th chord variations. When played on guitar and bass the blues is most often played in home chords, or chords with several open strings': E-A-B7 or A-D-E7. Keyboardists may prefer C-F-G7 or G-C-D7. If no key is specified, it is assumed that the key will be A.

POV: The 12-bar blues are easy and fun to play! —Quinobi 19:44, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Other examples of the 12 bar blues progression can be found in a lot of early rock n' roll, such as Blue Suede Shoes by Carl Perkins and Hard Headed Woman by Elvis. Zpqmalsk (talk) 02:02, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Ideas for improvement[edit]

As I'm a new user I thought i'd place some ideas here for a period, in order for any disagreements to be resolved before i go and make changes etc

1. I'm not sure I agree with directly linking the twelve bar blues progression and 4/4 time per se. Idioms which make extensive use of the twelve bar blues (ie including most "blues" styles) do use 4/4 time almost almost exclusively. But the twelve bar form has been extensively used in many styles! And, in some cases, other time signatures/rhythmic schemes have been involved... (ie All Blues, Miles Davis in 3/4) This in no way deemphasises the fact that it is a twelve bar blues, you know it and feel it. I don't think you can say that "twelve bar blues=4/4 time". And now that I think of it, most traditional "blues" styles use 12/8, anyway!

3. My primary concern is with the jargonesque explanation of the essential characteristics of the form. I think a more useful approach would be to simplify it into its essence, something that I do and explain in layman's terms for students on a (very) regular basis. In other words I think the "call - variation - response" essence kind of thing needs to be drawn out as a priority. From this the technicalities and variations can be discussed. The more obscure (classical?) theoretical references seem more like an appendix or final note?:

While the blues is most often considered to be in sectional strophic form with a verse-refrain pattern, it may also be considered as an extension of the variational chaconne procedure. Van der Merwe (1989) considers it developed in part specifically from the American Gregory Walker though the conventional account would consider hymns as the provider of the blues repeating chord progression or harmonic formulae (Middleton 1990.

Yeah. Despite having an extensive music background (B.Mus w first class honours), i'm pretty lost in this paragraph. still useful info, but needs to be prefaced w something more approachable?

I'll leave this here for a while before I pull anything...

Wow! Its so damn rubbish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Aurgi 12:55, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

Probably a good idea to wait. I usually don't use my own ignorance as a guide to what should be deleted from Wikipedia. Hyacinth 22:46, 11 August 2005 (UTC)
sorry, i don't understand what you mean... explain? Aurgi 07:34, 12 August 2005 (UTC)
I usually use my knowledge to add and edit content. Hyacinth (talk) 04:38, 30 June 2011 (UTC)


Are there any guidelines anywhere concerning how to represent chord progressions within Wikipedia? If not there should be. It would make things a lot clearer if everyone used the same system. In this one article there are three different methods used: numbers (1 4 5) roman numerals (I IV V) and names (T S D.)

The roman numeral system is probably the way to go, it's the way musicians write things out when dealing with relative harmony.

Also, harmonic rhythm is often confusing or ambiguous in a lot of the articles I've seen. Sometimes a chord symbol represents a measure and other times a single beat. The use of bar lines is probably a good idea.

Text sucks for conveying music notation but some measure of consistency would make these articles a lot more useful and readable. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ned5000 (talkcontribs) 04:20, 29 December 2006 (UTC).

I'll agree with the claim that text sucks for conveying music notation... but since the music itself often includes text, in the form of lyrics, a compromise might be to expand the article by using a well-known song (though finding one that's familiar to everyone will be an impossible challenge), and breaking it down line by line. To the extent that the song is well-known enough, this would allow readers to get the gist of what the textual explanations are trying to do. There are some good examples of 12-bar based songs already, but one could question whether the average reader will have heard the "Empty Bed Blues," for example, as often as more popular works. C d h 12:34, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Musicians have been dealing with notation for thousands of years. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style (music). Hyacinth (talk) 19:22, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

Basic Is Basic[edit]

The The Blues Chord Progression section begins:

A basic example of the progression would look like this, using T to indicate the tonic, S for the subdominant, and D for the dominant, and representing one chord per measure:

T T T T 

Nice try at explaining the progression, but the terms tonic, subdominant, and dominant are not in common parlance, at least among the musicians I play/perform/teach with. As pointed out previously, the roman numeral notation system would be more universally understood. That aside, the above example is not basic, and not the place to begin discussing this progression and its variations. Rather the following progression (using the original notation) is basic:

...the tenth bar [stays] in dominant, yielding this:


IMO, all twelve-bar blues progressions are variations of this minimalist form. But your mileage may vary.

What about this one:
C F C C7
F F C A7
D G7 C C
Ortolan88 17:38, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

AlvinMGO 14:13, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Either Nashville notation (1 4 5) or Roman numerals (I IV V) would be preferable to the obscure T S D. In the meantime, I'm going to cop that handy guide to common chords from the top of this page and stick it in the article somewhere. Ortolan88 15:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I started trying to fix this, but I'm just a drummer who can play extremely simply blues in C on the piano, so somebody better than me needs to jump in here and straighten this all out. Ortolan88 17:38, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

History section?[edit]

Can we have a history section outlining where the progression was first found, how it became famous etc? Enobeno (talk) 00:50, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

I agree that a discussion of origins is in order. I know the first recorded song using the 12-bar blues progression was covered in my History of American Popular Music class, so a reference shouldn't be too hard to find. Toyblocks (talk) 03:43, 26 April 2009 (UTC)


The problem here is that really nobody knows about the origins of the blues as a form. You could I am sure read for 30 years and never get to be sure about this.

But I suggest that we do not focus of recorded songs using the blues progression. Have a look at a book by Peter Muir. Hundreds of blues were published prior to recording, so it may be that for origins a look at recordings is in order.

The sensible thing to do might be to have a section on 'theories about the origins of the 12-bar blues'. That would a) be more accurate and b) might focus minds on the fact that nobody really knows for sure.

Kate Mash 15:53, 14 November 2017 (UTC)Kate Mash — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kate Mash (talkcontribs)

A history section is a good idea and various theories, etc. may be discussed as long as they are supported by reliable sources and follow WP:WEIGHT. Muir's Long Lost Blues: Popular Blues in America, 1850-1920 looks like a scholarly treatment of the subject and would make a good ref. —Ojorojo (talk) 14:30, 15 November 2017 (UTC)


The article currently includes the following paragraph.

The blues can be played in any key, but guitar and bass players prefer open chords, that is, chords with several open strings: E-A-B7 or A-D-E7. Keyboardists may prefer chords with fewer accidentals such as C-F-G7 or G-C-D7.

The last sentence seems to confuse an accidental with a black key. Changing a song to a different key can result in more or fewer black keys, but any note that was an accidental relative to the original key will be an accidental relative to the new key. And the example chords given contain no (C-F-G7) or few (G-C-D7) black keys.

Do others agree? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:46, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

Fixed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:14, 13 April 2009 (UTC)


12-bar blues is a creative base for a blues piece. But everyone is using this base to make blues pieces. This is NOT creativity and it is not being a composer!

12-bar blues: SUCK! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:55, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

Example for non-musicians?[edit]

Uhm, 'bar', 'tonic', 'subdominant'..? It all sounds equally mysterious to me. Perhaps a simple audio sample would help to instantly explain this thing to non-musicians. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:55, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

What about the audio already included? What about the links to definitions and articles about the terms you don't understand? Hyacinth (talk) 03:45, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

As a lay person who is in the process of learning an instrument, I found this whole article unintelligible; please translate from "music" into english. (and yes I did follow links/look at references/listen to bits.) Remember that wikipedia is not a reference for people who _already_ know what they're looking up. (I'd try to fix it myself, but... I couldn't follow it at all. Besides I have my hands full trying to translate the *math* pages into english)Eastmbr (talk) 06:47, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

Potential merger with Jazz blues[edit]

There is currently an article about 12-bar blues in jazz. I have proposed merging that article into a new section here, in Twelve-bar blues. There really is no reason to have two articles. Different variations of the same chord progression occur in jazz, early rhythm and blues, blues and rock music... Feedback? Thanks.BassHistory (talk) 09:33, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Done. Twelve-bar blues#in Jazz. Hyacinth (talk) 12:02, 9 December 2010 (UTC)
Looks good.BassHistory (talk) 12:06, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Merge discussion[edit]

I've flagged this article for the two merges which were proposed on Dec 8th without flagging on this article, to assist with awareness and discussion by all who may have an interest. ( don't think this two-way notification process was followed prior to another merger this week: see Talk:Jazz blues.) AllyD (talk) 08:17, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

  • And subsequently realised that there's another proposed merger to this article out there, so added it to the Merge-from notice. AllyD (talk) 18:21, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose mergers pending development of consensus on the best overall configuration of article(s) on Blues Form. Again, see the above Talk page for beginning of discussion, which should probably be carried to here. AllyD (talk) 08:20, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
I agree with you that we need to have consensus before merging anything. Although I did not merge anything, I am a less experienced editor and I might have misunderstood the process of labeling an article to be merged with another. Please rejoin the discussion below, I'm not sure if you saw my response on the other talk page.BassHistory (talk) 11:55, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

Eight-bar blues[edit]

Why and how would eight-bar blues be merged into this article? Hyacinth (talk) 11:11, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Eight-bar blues is only a derivation of 12-bar blues. It is also far less common, and I doubt there are any solid sources on this form.BassHistory (talk) 02:36, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Then it shouldn't be mentioned. Hyacinth (talk) 01:34, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Tag removed. Hyacinth (talk) 10:08, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

Sixteen-bar blues[edit]

Why and how would sixteen-bar blues be merged into this article? Hyacinth (talk) 11:11, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Sixteen-bar blues is only a derivation of 12-bar blues. It is also far less common, and I doubt there are any solid sources on this form.BassHistory (talk) 02:37, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Then it shouldn't be mentioned. Hyacinth (talk) 01:34, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Tag removed. Hyacinth (talk) 10:09, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

Bird changes[edit]

Why and how would Bird changes be merged into this article? Hyacinth (talk) 11:11, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Bird changes is a variation of 12-bar blues. It is not commonplace, most jazz blues are not bird blues. This doesn't need it's own article.BassHistory (talk) 02:38, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
If there was a reason it shouldn't have its own article, it is unfortunate that it already has its own article. If there isn't a reason besides "because" then it's fine the way it is. Hyacinth (talk) 01:36, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure if I follow you. Bird blues is a type of twelve-bar blues used in jazz. It can simply be mentioned in another article about blues progressions, it doesn't need its own article.BassHistory (talk) 21:48, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Tag removed. Hyacinth (talk) 10:09, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

V-IV-I turnaround[edit]

See Talk:V-IV-I turnaround#Merge with Twelve-bar blues? Hyacinth (talk) 11:11, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Tag removed. Hyacinth (talk) 10:09, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

Merge discussions (originally moved from Talk:Jazz blues)[edit]

This article has now been ported wholesale into Twelve-bar blues. The result is what we in this part of the world call a midden. The article now has two sets of Navboxes, two placements for references, and duplicating sets of interwiki links. Use one "Nederlands" link and you'll get to "Jazzblues", use the other and you'll get to "Bluesschema". So some tidying needed, and I started then abandoned editing, as this first needs consensus on what should be the Interwiki links on this fused article: presumably just those from the original "Twelve-bar blues" article and discard the former "Jazz blues" ones as no longer worthy of an English article and therefore not an interwiki either?

But taking things a bit wider, maybe there's an opportunity for a bit more consensus building on what is the appropriate outcome in article space? A few issues then:

  • Is "Jazz blues" a total subset of "Twelve-bar blues"? Nothing whatsoever to do with Eight-bar blues or Sixteen-bar blues?
  • In fact I see there is now a proposal to merge both the 8 and 16 artcles into "Twelve-bar blues" as well. Aside from the numeric consideration, does this suggest that the appropriate overarching title should be "Blues schema" (as on the Dutch article) or "Blues form" (see the section Blues#Form)?
  • But what then of the wider music readers who do indeed want to read about the 12-bar pure and simple? Do all these merges amount to an appropriation of what was that mainstream article?

Thoughts welcome. I'm not sure this is even an appropriate place any more after today's merger, but the overall target article landscape surely needs to be defined and agreed rather than piecemeal change. AllyD (talk) 18:08, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

If you see minor mistakes, such as a section in the wrong place, you should feel free to correct them. Hyacinth (talk) 11:59, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps there could be two articles:
  • The first, Blues progression, or Blues form, could mention 12, 16 and 8 bar blues, as well as V-IV-I (as this progression only occurs in the blues). Some of the more detailed/specific information could be moved from Blues#Form, which is a very long section on a music theory topic for an article on a style of music.
  • The second, Twelve-bar blues, would contain the info from Twelve-bar blues, as well as Jazz blues and Bird changes, which are simply variations of the 12-bar blues (there are thousands of variations of the 12-bar blues).
Any thoughts?BassHistory (talk) 00:53, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
To answer your questions,
  • a) Yes, Jazz blues is a total sub-set, as is bird changes, as it is a term used only to denote a type of twelve-bar blues. Nat Adderly's "Work Song", or Wes Montgomery's "Four on Six" (the best examples of what might be called 8-bar and 16-bar blues, respectively, in jazz that come to mind at this moment) would not be referred to as "Jazz blues." (I should note that jazz musicians generally would never use the term "jazz blues", as the V-IV-I turnaround is used much less frequently in jazz)
  • b) Yes, there is a convincing argument to be made for having an article entitled "Blues progression" that covers all of these forms, as Blues progression currently redirects to Twelve-bar blues.
  • c) That is why I am suggesting the two-article idea, where Twelve-bar blues and its harmonic variations can have one article, and blues progression, and its various variants in length, including 12-bar, could be mentioned there.BassHistory (talk) 05:22, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
Discussion moved from dead article.BassHistory (talk) 11:47, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
  • As I'd said in the notes above, my concern is to keep a bit of clear space for the non-jazz reader and that camping-onto this particular article is too much. That said, though, the 12-bar article already had elements of that, with comments about building a jazz repertoire, Rhythm Changes and 32-bar form, not directly relevant to the subject at hand. I'm thinking of a 3 article solution:
(1) Blues#Form expanded into an article - possibly called "Blues Form" and taking the main inter-wiki strain of linking to nl:Bluesschema etc - and which also provides the framework links to (2) and (3) below, as well as directly covering the 8 and 16 bar variants and any Turnaround expansion thought worthwhile.
(2) Twelve-bar blues presenting the basic position.
(3) Something like "Use of blues form in jazz" containing the information formerly in "Jazz blues" and "Bird changes" (suitably referenced!).
Hence layering to allow a reader to obtain different viewpoints at will, without bombardment of detail? AllyD (talk) 21:10, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
I see your point that the main article shouldn't get into to much detail (eg. there's no reason to explain Bird blues in the main article). Could we do it in two articles then, Blues progression and Blues progression in jazz (I have a slight preference for "Blues progression", as that is the term that is more common in American English from my experience)? I would like to point out that Grove doesn't even mention 8-bar or 16-bar blues. It seems like "presenting the basic position" should be the job of the mother article, and Twelve-bar blues should be covered in Blues progression, as 99.9% of all blues are 12-bar. Here are my main concerns:
  • We should stick to reliable sources, and everything should be cited where possible.
  • Musical examples should be used in a concise and universal way, and there doesn't need to be an example for every variation of the blues progression.
Please feel free to check out the practice page I started.BassHistory (talk) 23:18, 13 December 2010 (UTC)


Why and where does this article need to be cleaned up? How should it be cleaned up? Hyacinth (talk) 02:53, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Which examples are unclear? Hyacinth (talk) 02:54, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Tag removed. Hyacinth (talk) 22:42, 4 September 2012 (UTC)


Removed the following by User:Gene Fellner from the text of the article:

NOTE: This article could be improved by adding information about the early history of the 12-bar blues. When was it first used, and by whom, and using which instruments? What's the earliest known song in this structure? Did it evolve from something else?

Wahoofive (talk) 20:25, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Need New Audio[edit]

...if even an article was begging for 'em....--Froglich (talk) 22:46, 18 February 2016 (UTC)

The page is full of unplayable (for most) files that do not play on the page itself (at least not for me) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Theabsurdreigns (talkcontribs) 21:45, 9 March 2016 (UTC)

List of songs[edit]

There are thousands of songs which use a 12-bar blues progression. A majority of songs by blues-related artists use it and listing them here is just stating the obvious. Propose to include only atypical (non-blues) uses of the progression. To help meet verifiablity, propose to include only songs that have WP articles that specifically say they use it or have an inline citation to a reference that confirms this (see WP:SOURCELIST). —Ojorojo (talk) 14:12, 6 April 2017 (UTC)

The 28 August 2017 edits added a number of {{citation needed}} tags to examples of songs that use 12-bar blues.[1] Since there are already many examples discussed in the main body of the article, the additional "Examples of songs" doesn't appear justified. If noteworthy, these may be re-added to the main body with citations. —Ojorojo (talk) 16:16, 25 September 2017 (UTC)