Category Archives: The Blues

12 bar blues – Spice up your patterns with triplet rhythms

Hi there,

Thanks for taking the time to read my blogs 🙂 Feel good about posting comments / questions, any other subject matters that people would like me to blog on.

Just to let you know i’ll be eventually adding some audio clips/ videos but they’ll be uploaded to my blogger page soon ( wordpress charge for mp3/ video uploads)

This blog (and the next one) will help beginner bass players to really start to mix up your 12 bar blues patterns with different rhythms. So using these new rhythms in conjunction with various arpeggios will give you more options/variety.

Below I’ve got 3 basic 12 bar blues progressions in A Blues. (the arpeggios are Major 6, Major and descending major bass line at bar 12 of each pattern)

Pattern 1 is ‘straight’ quavers :


Pattern 2 we’ve got a traditional ‘shuffle’ feel where each beat is split up into triplet quavers (1 + a, 2 + a, 3 + a, 4 + a). Each beat has 1 note lasting 2/3rds of the beat (1 and the +) and the 2nd note on the ‘a’)

** this is stated by the triplet 8th note feel sign at the top left hand side**



Pattern 3 is based on the triplet quaver structure of 3 notes per beat but the + is a rest. This provides you with another variation and choppy feel.



Practice these at various speeds with a metronome 🙂

Next blog will look at varying the rhythms within each bar!

Many thanks for reading.

James Schofield

Twitter: @jsmusicschool


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Posted by on February 4, 2015 in The Blues


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Essential Blues Bass lines!

Hi there,

Thanks for reading my blogs – I’ll shortly be moving over to Blogger as I can upload Videos for free. I’ll let everyone know once I start moving things over!

So in this blog we will cover some cool essential bass lines that all bassists should know. They are also extremely useful for blues guitarists as well as can be played around with on guitar in different ways.

Our first cool bass line is based around a major 6th arpeggio. An arpeggio is where you are playing notes from a chord sequentially.

Let’s take an A6 arpeggio for example. It would contain:

Rootnote =  A

Major 3rd (3) 2 tones = C#

Perfect 5th (5) 3 1/2 tones = E

Major 6th (6) 4 1/2 tones = F#

The pattern we’ll use to start with will go like this (we’ll also include the octave (8) )

A   C#  E   F#  A   F#  E  C#

1   3    5    6    8    6   5   3

To get a nice groove going play 2 swung quavers per note. I’ve transcribed a 12 bar blues pattern using the same pattern above using A6, D6 and E6 arpeggios.


Pattern no.2 is using Dominant 7th arpeggios. These would contain:

Rootnote : A

Major 3rd (3) 2 tones = C#

Perfect 5th (5) 3 1/2 tones = E

Minor 7th (b7) 5 tones = G

Using the same playing pattern as with the Major 6th’s we’d get the following in an A blues progression:


You can also mix the 2 up to produce a bass line with a root, 3rd, 5th, 6th and b7:


Practice this in every key and play along to backing tracks online. There a millions of great blues backing tracks on Youtube you can use.

Also you can randomise the pattern so instead of going 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 6, 5, 3 you can jumble them up to create different options and sounds.

Hope you’ve found this blog useful.

You can find other excellent free info via the Jsmusicschool twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks



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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in The Blues


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Spice up your Blues playing Pt 1 – 6 + 2 chords

Hi there,

Want to add some variety to your blues chord progressions? Thought so 🙂

If you are used to just playing the traditional 1, 4, 5 chords in a 12 bar blues (usually with dominant 7,9 or 13 chords) you’re only sticking with 3 possible chords.

There are some cool chords you can add to make the traditional 12 bar sequence more interesting.

So are traditional 12 bar blues in D could be:

D7   D7   D7   D7   G7   G7   D7   D7   A7  G7  D7   A7

2 really classy chords you can add are the 6th and 2nd chords from the key. So in D major the chords would be:

D Em F#m, G, A, Bm, C#dim

Now for a really bluesy sound we’re going to make the 6th chord Dominant 7th and the 2nd chord a minor 7th.

The 6th dominant 7th chord can be seen as a secondary dominant (please refer to my blog on secondary dominants for an explanation of this)

The 2nd chord is diatonic (belongs to the key)

Here is a suggested chord progression using these chords.

In roman numerals they would go like this . I  IV  I  I    IV   IV  I  VI     IIm7  V   I   IIm7 / V

1.D7  2.G7   3.D7   4.D7    5.G7   6.G7   7.D7    8.B7    9.Em7   10.A7    11.D7    12.Em7  /  A7

(in the 12th bar you can split it between the 2 chords – this bar is often referred to as the turnaround)

Have a play around with the above then have a go in different keys. So in A the progression would be:

1.A7  2.D7   3.A7   4.A7    5.D7   6.D7  7.A7.   8.F#7    9.Bm7    10.E7    11.A7    12.Bm7 / E7

Hope you’ve found this blog useful

Thanks for reading

You can find Js Music School on twitter via @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic



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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in The Blues


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Dominant 9 and 13 chords for Blues rhythm playing

Hi There,

Thanks for reading my blogs so far.

In previous bogs on the blues we’ve understood how the blues works in ‘Understanding the blues’ and also how to add dominant 7 arpeggios to your improvisation.

Now for blues progressions the most commonly used shapes are your E and A Dominant 7 shapes below:

Now to spice up your typical blues progressions you can now introduce your funky sounding dominant 9th and 13th chords (the reason there’s no 11th chords is that they don’t sound particularly great!)

There are only really 2 shapes for each that I suggest below:

And for the dominant 13 (note due to the the fact that the chord has 7 notes 1,3,5,b7,9,11,13 one/2 intervals are left out):

So now you can use these different dominant chords as an when you like to give your blues playing some variety.

Many thanks for reading and hope you’ve found this blog useful

You can find other useful tips on twitter @jsmusicschool



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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in The Blues


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Adding Dominant 7 Arpeggios to Blues Improvisation

Hi There,

After my last post on ‘Understanding the Blues’ you are now aware that the Blues scale works great over Dominant 7th chords despite the note clashes.

Now what you can also use on top of that is Dominant 7 arpeggios.

An Arpeggio is essentially playing the notes that make up the chord sequentially (one after the other).

So an E7 chord contains the notes E,G#,B and D – this also makes up the 4 notes in an E7 arpeggio.

What arpeggio’s do is provide you with an additional set of notes to work with as well as the Blues scale which create different sounds.

So the E blues scale is E, G, A, Bb,B and D

an E7 arpeggio is E,G#,B and D

So you’ve got the G# in addition to the Blues scale.

Now in terms of coming up with riffs – play for example your E blues scale (first shape) over an E blues progression (E7,A7 and B7)

Then come up with a riff using an E7 arpeggio (in the CAGED system this would be the E shape) over the same sequence.

What that gives you is 2 different sound banks to work with – the Blues scale with the G is more Minor sounding and the Arpeggio more Major with the G#

So you want to see them as slightly different things but at the same time both work great over any blues progression.

To integrate them both into your playing – practice using a few notes from the Blues scale and then switch to the arpeggios.

It’s best not to overlay the Arpeggios onto the Blues Scale as there will be too many notes – Blues remember is all about feel so keep it simple!

Thanks for reading


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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in The Blues


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Understanding the Blues

Hi there!

In this blog you will understand more of how the Blues works (and why its strange that it does!)

Now with most Major scale progressions and the Major/Minor scales and pentatonics this tends to conform completely with all musical formulas.

What the Blues does is actually break many of these conventions as you have many notes that ‘clash’ but for some reason sound great!

The Blues scale is essentially the Minor pentatonic scale with an added note (the b5 – often referred to as the ‘Blues’ note)

So it has 6 notes:

1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7

(these are shorthand ways of writing Root, Minor 3rd, Perfect 4th, Diminished 5th, Perfect 5th and Minor 7th)

You’ll find all 5 shapes of the Blues scale scattered around the internet so practice these.

Now it’s all well just learning these but you need to know how to apply them over a chord progression.

Typically Blues progressions are the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of any major scale turned into Dominant 7 chords (usually abbreviated to just A7 etc)

So A blues scale would work best over A7, D7 AND E7

(a major scale is A,B,C#,D,E,F#,G#)

Now this shouldn’t work but it DOES. This is because some of the notes you are playing over ‘clash’ with the notes of the scale.

For example the notes of A7 has A,C#,E and G , but the A blues scale contains a C

This is just one example of how the Blues scale breaks a musical convention – but this also gives Blues it’s unique sound. So don’t aim to think to much about why all this stuff works as one of Blues defining characteristics is how it breaks away from traditional conventions

Practice your Blues scales over different 1,4,5 Dominant 7 progressions in various keys to take your Blues playing to another level,

Cheers for reading.



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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in The Blues


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