With the right attitude and the love of the instrument, you may find that it’s not that hard to learn to play blues. Almost everyone loves music in some form or other. The vast range of music goes from rock music, pop, jazz, alternative, rhythm and blues to classical and much more. It doesn’t matter what your preference in music, it’s very possible to play it on the piano. Among the easiest styles of music to learn and thoroughly understand is blues and to learn blues piano is something that you should try if you are a fan of blues music.
The blues is a music style that, once you learn to play it on the piano, will be a great thing for you because it’s a lot easier than many other styles of music. That doesn’t mean it’s “EASY” in that sense, but it’s a style of music that has a certain structure that is easy to learn and understand. The whole of blues music is based on 12 bars in sequence that is based on 3 chords, whatever the key, the chords are the same ones based on the intervals within each key.
Twelve bar blues has a very common progression that you need to know when you get into playing the blues on a piano. In order to play the blues, you need to know the sequence of these chords and also when and how to add in a seventh chord to give the variety and means of improvisation you will be able to take advantage of when playing the blues. Each song is split into 3 x 4 bar sets of chords that make up the 12 bar sequence. This is repeated all the way through the particular piece of music until the end in most cases.
Years ago, when I was the keyboard player in a band, we used to play a blues at the end of the main part of the gig. We used to simply play and “jam” and just have fun with it. The crowd used to love it too because we were so “into” the moment. It’s the pure improvisation that gives you the “kick”.
To play a simple blues, that doesn’t have to be a “song” in the strict sense of the word, you need to look at the 3 chords in the structure. The first chord is the main one in the key you play, so if this were the key of C, it would be a C chord, then the other chords are the fourth (or the F Chord when playing in C) and the fifth, which is a G chord.
Take the key of C, using I for the C chord, IV for the F Chord and V for G, the sequence is as follows:
The first 4 bar set consists of I-I-I-I followed by the next 4 bar set of IV-IV-I-I and the final set is V-IV-I-I. This is very basic and you will get more from the blues by listening to the great blues artists and picking out the “nuances” that become evident the more you play. It’s best to use your right hand when playing the 3 x 4 bar sets on the piano. To get the “feel” and understand how to get a sound just like blues piano, try adding some 7th chords so you understand how they fit into the overall makeup of the style.
Use your left hand to follow an 8-note pattern. The pattern is set out thus: I-III-V-VI-VIIb-VI-V-III. When playing this sequence in the key of C, the notes you need to play will be C-E-G-A-Bb-A-G-E. When playing the F chord sequence, you should play F-A-C-D-Eb-D-C-A and for the G chord, the notes are G-B-D-E-F-E-D-B.
Get used to the chord sequences and then learn to improvise a little around them when you get the “feel” of the blues. When you understand this, then blues piano can be easy to play and get very good at. You really have to master 12-bar blues in the key of C first. As soon as you’re comfortable with this, you can easily play in other keys because the chord sequences are the same, even though you play in different keys.
E.G. The blues in C consists of the C chord, F chord and G chord. In A, the chords will be A, D and E. In G, the chords will be G, C and D. If you know your music theory to know how to transpose from C to F for example, the blues makes this a lot easier because of the chord sequence, and this is why it’s so easy to “jam” and play for a long time when playing blues.
To play blues piano well, this is basically all you need to know. It’s a great way to develop the improvisation skills and learning to transpose music quickly and easily. I hope you will now be able to play and enjoy blues anywhere and anytime, especially if someone says we’ll do a blues in A and you confidently join in.
From this point you can look into Blues Piano Lessons