Learn How to Play the 12 Bar Blues Piano Pattern

Learning how to play blues piano doesn’t need to be difficult. Whether you’re a complete beginner or have been playing the piano in another genre for years, you can learn how to easily play aspects of the blues piano, including the iconic 12-bar blues piano pattern.

Of course, this is not to say that the blues is a straightforward genre. Blues piano is vast, varied, rich and complex. Over the years blues piano has created a variety of other genres, such as boogie woogie piano, and it also continues to influence almost every other genre of modern music to this day. 

However, the influence, diversity and notoriety of the blues is the very thing that makes the genre so fun and desirable to learn. And with our tips below, anyone can pick it up and start their journey towards becoming a blues piano master. 

Easy Blues Piano Chords

There are a variety of blues piano scales, chords, progressions and patterns out there but thankfully there are three simple blues piano chords that you can learn to get started, before combining them to play the 12 bar blues piano pattern.

The 3 chords you need to learn to play the 12 bar blues piano pattern are:

  • C7 major
  • F7 major
  • G7 major

Thankfully, all of these chords are particularly easy to create. They start with your average C major, F major and G major chords and add a 7th note. This 7th note is what transforms the chords and gives them an iconic bluesy sound. To figure out what the blue note is, simply locate the note that is two notes below the name of the chord itself.

In theory, you can add this blue note to any chord. However, you only need to know C7 major, F7 major and G7 major to play the 12 bar blues, so let’s break down each chord below using Piano Chord’s handy visuals.

The C7 Major Chord

Let’s start off with the notes of the C7 major chord:

C

E

G

Bb

As you can see, the Bb is what transforms this average C major chord into the C7 major blues chord.

The C7 Major Chord - Pianochord.org

The F7 Major Chord

Next, let’s look at the F7 major chord: 

F

A

C

Eb

As you can see, this one is very easy to remember as it spells out FACE and it is the Eb that makes this chord a member of the blues syllabus.

The F7 Major Blues Chord - Pianochord.org

The G7 Major Chord

Lastly, we have the G7 major chord:

G

B

D

F

Unlike the other two chords below, it is not a flat (b) note that is the blue note in this final blues chord, it is a standard F note. 

The G7 Major Chord - Pianochord.org

The 12 Note Blues Pattern

Practice and perfect the above blues chord firstly on their own and then back-to-back with each other. Once you feel confident, you’re ready to learn how to play the 12 note blues pattern.

Blues music follows a classic 12 bar structure and it runs on 4/4 time. This means that you will count 4 beats per bar for a total of 12 bars. Practice this rhythm by clapping to the beat and then when you’re ready add the blues chords you’ve learned in the sequence below:

  • C7 major
  • C7 major
  • C7 major
  • C7 major
  • F7 major
  • F7 major
  • C7 major
  • C7 major
  • G7 major
  • F7 major
  • C7 major
  • C7 major

Practice the pattern for five minutes or more every day and before you know it you will have mastered these crucial blues piano chords and the 12 bar blues piano pattern! Once you’ve grasped this technique, try your hand at improv by creating your own blues patterns, or check out our full range of lessons and learn how to play blues piano like a pro.

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