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Twelve bar blues
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Twelve bar blues

Twelve bar blues is a typical blues chord progression, taking twelve 4/4 bars to the verse.

A basic example of the progression would look like this, using T to indicate the tonic, S for the subdominant, and D for the dominant, and representing one chord per measure:


Many variations are possible. For instance, seventh chords are often used just before a change, and more changes can be added. A more complicated example might look like this, where "7" indicates a seventh chord:

T  S  T  T7
S  S7 T  T7
D  S  T  D7

When the last bar contains the dominant, that bar can be called a turnaround.

Finally, here is an example showing the pattern in the key of D, and how it fits with the lyrics of a given verse. One chord symbol is used per beat, with "-" representing the continuation of the previous chord:

D        -     -      -        
Woke up this morning with the 

G - - - D - - - D7 - - - blues down in my soul

G - - - Woke up this morning with the

G7 - - - D - - - D7 - - - blues down in my soul Saying "My

A - - A7 baby gone and left me, got a

G - - G7 D - - - D - A A7 heart as black as coal"

While the blues is most often considered to be in sectional strophic form with a verse-refrain pattern, it may also be considered as an extension of the variational chaconne procedure.