Into The Blue: Rhythm Part 1

Welcome to the first of a new series of articles entitled “˜Into the Blue’, the purpose of these articles is to explore the style, sound and key players within the Blues genre. This series will be pitched at an intermediate level and will build on techniques and practices that many players will be well aware of, that being said I will start off slowly making sure we leave nothing to chance.

12 Bar Blues

The “˜12 bar blues‘ is the most common blues progression and with it consisting of just 12 bars and only three chords it is also one of the easiest. Below is an example of a 12 bar blues:

12 bar blues

As you can see we have our 12 bars, each one containing either the numbers One, Four or Five, these numbers relate to what chord will be played in that bar.

To work out which chords to play we must first pick a key, for arguments sake lets choose “˜C’, this is now our chord One. To find our chord Four simply count up four letter names in the alphabet starting with “˜C’, this gives us “˜F’ making “˜F’ our chord Four, to get chord Five do the same but go one letter further giving us “˜G’.

Below is a table containing the most common blues keys and their related chords:

Blues keys and related chords

Major chords

To get more of a “˜bluesy’ sound try using Dominant 7 chords in the place of the majors, as demonstrated below:

Dom7 chords

Now we know are chords and are 12 bar blues let’s put it all together in a song.

Before You Accuse Me – Credence Clearwater Revival

“˜Before you accuse me’ is a typical 12 bar blues in the key of “˜E’ originally recorded by Bo Diddley in 1957 and has since become a blues standard.

The strum pattern is the same throughout the first eleven bars and is demonstrated below:

Strum notation

Strum pattern

Watch out for the ties on the second and third beats of the bar, to keep the strumming smooth continue the eight note (up & down) strumming motion but do not connect with the strings.

On the eighth repeat of the song bars eleven and twelve change creating an ending to the piece. The chord in bar eleven is a movable “˜D7′ chord shape, the piece then ends with “˜E7′.

Before You Accuse Me - 1
Before You Accuse Me - 2
Before You Accuse Me - 3
Before You Accuse Me - 4

For those of you that want a bit more of a challenge here is the intro and solos.


The intro is a mixure of the “˜E’ major and “˜E’ minor pentatonic scales, watch out for the triplets throughout and the ties in bar three.

Before You Accuse Me - Intro 1
Before You Accuse Me - Intro 2

Solo One

Solo One kicks off with the bottom part of a “˜C7′ movable chord shape which changes to an “˜E7′ in bar four. Bars five to seven use chord tones applying an “˜Aadd9′ and “˜Amaj9′ tonality.

Bars nine and ten show a Freddie king inspired major pentatonic lick which is topped off with a classic blues turnaround in bars eleven and twelve.

Solo One - 1
Solo One - 2
Solo One - 3

Solo Two

Solo Two starts in a similar fashion to the intro using the “˜E’ minor pentatonic scale and also in bar four using the movable “˜D7′ shape. Bars five and six introduce an “˜Aadd9′ chord then return back to “˜E’ minor pentatonic licks which follow the chord changes this is all topped off with the same turnaround as in solo 1.

Solo Two - 1
Solo Two - 2
Solo Two - 3

I hope this article has been of interest or at the very least gives you a great song to learn. In the next installment I will look at the “˜Blues shuffle’ through songs such as “˜Crossroads’ by Cream and “˜No Particular Place to go’ by Chuck Berry.