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Blues progression questions

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bass87, Nov 5, 2003.

  1. I'm going back through my 'Expanding Walking Bass Lines' book (more thoroughly this time:rolleyes: ) and have a query about the blues progressions used for the first few examples. The progression goes like this:

    | C7 | F7 | C7 | % | F7 | % | C7 | Em7 A7 | Dm7 | G7 | Em7 A7 | Dm7 G7 |

    I dont understand the function of the chords in red, the Em7 and A7. I know it's a ii-V in D, but don't get why this is in a blues progression in C. I'd be very greatful if someone could clear this up for me.

    Cheers :)
  2. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    A lot of the time the resolution will be a 2-5-1 but sometimes the progression 2-5-3-6-1 will substitute the typical 2-5-1. In your case the E is the 3, and the A is the 6. It creates the sensation of motion in the progression. Of course you arent looking at typical "rock blues" (5-4-1 resolution) but the "jazz" form of blues. Hope this helps...
  3. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well, I don't want to make this too complicated, but blues progressions, once you are past the basic I IV V tolerate a bit of variation and tonal improvisation.

    Basically the Em7 is one of the related minor, or minor seventh chords in this case to the C7.

    If C7 were the one here, the related chords or triads

    I IIm IIIm IV V VIm VII [or VIIm ] VIII mimic
    the melody progression.
    C7 Dm7 Em7 F7 G am7 B7 [or Bm7] C7

    The latitude in the upper end reflects tonal opportunities provided by differences in the vocal and natural minor scales, which is more theory than I want to deal with here.

    In laymans terms, the C7 moves to the related minor third triad, then varies off to a major 6th triad A7 istead of the minor 6th triad Am7, as simply the A7 resolves the Em7 nicely and sounds good as it is a fifth below or a fourth above the em7.

    The Dm move is the same from the A7 almost.

    You then move to the G or the IV for the C7

    So, to recap you went from C to its minor third Em7, down to its [Em7's] major V -A7 - to it's minor V Dm7 to its following major IV which is also the V from where you started. G Which resolves the variation nicely.

    Get it?
  4. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    This is a very complex topic that I feel you are looking for a simple answer.So I will attemp to give you one.

    Rule one, the strongest sound you can aproach a cord with is a dominant cord apraoching from a Fith away IE. F7 to Bflat

    Rule Two. ANY dominant can be proceded by its relitive II minor. IE C-7, F7Bflat

    Now this is where the fun starts. Youve heard the turm substatute,right? Well it means just that, your inserting sounds into a place where another sound happend. Just to mix it up.

    In this Progresion its easiest to think of the first A7 as the dominant of D. Think of the Eminor as the related II of that dominant. thats it! dont make it too complex yet. understand that the minor sound is optional (the dominant is the important sound for what your doing here) you could just play A7 that whole bar.or you can take it the other direction and play one beat of Eminor one beat of A7 one of e minor one of a7.

    The Cords DO NOT HAVE to come from the Key center. they just have to get you where your going.It feels confusing because most of the time the root of the cord is in the scale. sure theres a A minor cord in the C scale but this cord in this case is not playing the role of that cord. Its just there to move you to D,with conviction.

    Try pluggin in little dominant sounds into the progresion every where you can(I mean everywhere). then try little II, V's.

    thats it! dont think too much.

    Have fun

  5. bassmantele


    Jul 22, 2003
    Boston MA USA

    [C7][F7][Am7 D7][Gm7 C7][F7][Dm7 G7][C7][Am7 D7][G7][Dm7 G7][C7 A7][D7 G7]

    Whenever you're going to a chord, you can approach it with a iim7 V7 in the previous measure.
  6. Slot


    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    Just think outside the square a little man...

    Everyone has explained it fairly well, but it can be damn hard to explain concepts such as these through a keyboard.

    Think of it this way:

    The "jazz" 12 bar blues consists of only a handful of 'anchors'. The rest of the chords are used as transitional chords to help resolve each "anchor tone" more strongly.

    The Dominant resolution(V7 to I) is the most effective, and most commonly used resolution. The use of the II minor chord is just a simple way of 'smoothening' out the transition to the the V7 chord. It also helps to keep the harmony flowing, aswell as add more harmonic ideas for the soloist.

    The other commonly used resolution is the Tritone Substitute resolution(bII7 to I). Basically, it is just playing a dominant chord a semitone above the I chord, so that it chromatically leads into the I chord. So instead of the progression being:


    it could be(tritone sub)


    .........You could also change all the minor chords to Dominant chords, there is literally 1000 possibilities with this progression.

    Jazz is all about setting up the next tonality as smoothly as possibly. And ALOT of the time this means you have to totally change keys for sometimes no more than a beat or two.

    Just try and think outside the square a little and it becomes alot clearer dude.

    Sorry if i made no sense:meh:
  7. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I heard a song which illustrates all this well.

    From Ray Charles, the version I heard was by Joe Cocker.
    Let's Go get Stoned, 
    C      E7    A
    Let's Go get Stoned 
    FcF   G       C
    in the FcF chording the Bass Note is FEF
    the verses go 
    C7  F  
    C7  F
    C7  Am G F
    F  Dm  G  
    repeat Chorus

    There is an interlude with an Am sub for C7 at the beginning of the verse. It is just a simple tonal substitution.

    It illustrates this progression very well.


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