Blues on a Ukulele - Chord & Progressions

What is a Blues Chord?

Really, there's no such thing as a “blues” chord. A chord is a chord - and any chord can be used in a blues progression or song. The only name a chord has is its actual name, like: C, C7, Dm, Fmaj7 etc...

What is a Chord?

A chord is three or more notes sounded together. It's that simple!. A chord can be as simple as a three note triad, all the way up to a fancy jazz chord like G13+9. Chords have a letter name, it's root and type information indicating the type of chord and any alterations or extensions or upper partials.

Here are a few suggested lessons on chord alterations and extensions or upper partials.

The Blues Chord Progression

There is, such a thing as a “blues” chord progression. But not just any progression is “Blues” progression. For a progression to be a blues progression, specific chords or their direct substitutes must appear at particular spots in the progression. We call this post chords.

The 12-bar blues is one of the most popular chord progressions in popular music, including the blues. The blues progression has a distinctive form in lyrics and phrase and chord structure and duration. It is, at its most basic, based on the I-IV-V chords of a key.

The blues can be played in any key. Mastery of the blues and rhythm changes are "critical elements for building a jazz repertoire".

Here is a 12 bar blues chord progression in the key of C major.

The C, F and G chords are the I, IV and V chords in the key of C major. Here are all the chords, as triads for the key of C major: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, and B°

The V chord, the G can commonly be a 4-part 7th chord. Sometimes called a dominant seventh. In the key of C major the V chord can be a G7 chord.

Here is a lessons taking a deeper look into what is a blues progression.

What Makes “this” a Blues Progression?

* Post Chords - Measures one, five, seven, nine and eleven are critical measures where the I, IV and V chords MUST appear or their direct substitutions for a progression to remain a blues progression.

We can call these chords and the positions that they must fall in, post chords.

The most common form of a blues chord progression is twelve measures in length containing three, four measure sections:

  • 4 measures of the I chord. ( measures 1, 2, 3 & 4 )
  • 2 measures of the IV chord ( measures 5 & 6 )
  • 2 measures of the I chord ( measures 7 & 8 ).
  • 2 measures of the V chord( measures 9 & 10 )
  • 2 measures of the I chord( measures 11 & 12 )

Totaling 12 measures

While other measure lengths are possible, such as eight and sixteen measures, the twelve measure form is the most common.

The simplest blues would actually be the I chord for the twelve measures. Or, an indeterminate number of measures, as the blues where first sung by the field slaves of the southern states in the USA.

What Makes “this” a Blues Progression?

Two blues progressions lessons from my book, A Guide to Blues Progressions for Ukulele from A to Z.

My Ukulele Chord Books

11 Books for UKULELE and CHORDS

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A Guide to Advanced Ukulele Chords - Volume I

Beyond learning basic Ukulele chords most players struggle with advanced chords. Commonly called “jazz” chords, these more sophisticated voicings find a wide use in all forms of music.

A Guide to Advanced Chords for Ukulele presents a highly organized and efficient approach to the mysterious subject of advanced chords. Chord dictionaries are not the answer. Even chord theory does not offer any insight into unraveling the complexity of Ukulele chord voicings.

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A Guide to Blues Chord Progressions for Ukulele A to Z

The Blues are at the heart of all American music. It has influenced Country, Rock, Folk, Jazz, Bluegrass and just about every form of American music we listen to today.

26 blues progression in C and G tuning, progressing from basic to advanced jazz progression, with chord grids and substitutions explained.

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A Guide to Ukulele Chords

Covering the basic ukulele chords that ALL ukulele players SHOULD know. Plus, an introduction to movable chord forms, rock chords, how to transpose chords, jazz chords and more.

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A Guide to Ukulele Chords for Lefties

Covering the basic ukulele chords that ALL ukulele players SHOULD know. Plus, an introduction to movable chord forms, rock chords, how to transpose chords, jazz chords and more. FOR LEFTIES.

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A Guide to Ukulele Chords, 2nd Edition

A Guide to Ukulele Chords, Second Edition is designed as a guide to ukulele chords. Covering the basic ukulele chords that ALL ukulele players SHOULD know. A Guide to Ukulele Chords covers movable chord forms, rock chords, how to transpose chords, learning the ukulele fingerboard and includes an introduction to 4-part, a.k.a jazz chords and more...

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Edly’s Music Theory for Practical People

Edly’s Music Theory for Practical People is the music theory book that makes learning theory easy and fun. It is written for anyone wanting to understand what’s going on inside music, regardless of musical style or instrument. The writing is clear and informal; friendly and fun. The whimsical illustrations add to the effect.

If in the past you’ve been put off by boring theory books, you owe it to yourself to check this book out. If you thought that learning music theory had to be a nail-biting, hair-pulling affair, or that you didn’t have what it takes to understand how music works, Edly’s will change your mind.

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Exploring Jazz Chords on Ukulele

Exploring jazz chords using a variety of common chord progressions based on songs from the standard jazz repertoire.

Core Chords are the basic set of chords needed to play a wide range of music, in a variety of styles. This set of chords includes basic open position chords, basic movable form chords and the core 4-part “jazz” chords.

This books focuses on the 4-part core “jazz” chords. These jazz” chords are advanced chords that find their way into a wide range of music. 

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Harmonic Analysis for Scale Selection and Chord Substitution

Harmonic Analysis is the understanding of the functional sequence of chords. It is the process used to analyze the harmonic structure of a progression, song or composition. This analysis is then used to make scale selections for improvisation and chord substitution.

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The Advanced Guide to Chord Progressions for Ukulele - Volume I

Before individual chords become the background of songs, they must be put into orders called chord progressions. This The Advanced Guide to Chord Progressions for Ukulele organizes progressions according to string family, position, voice leading and chord magnetism. The Advanced Guide to Chord Progressions for Ukulele is an excellent preparation for the art of melody and chord on the ukulele and more advanced accompaniment.

Volume I features the principles of voice leading applied to chord progressions. These principles are explained using chords from volume I of The Advanced Guide to Ukulele Chords. Chapters with common major and minor full diatonic, partial diatonic and chromatic chord progressions are also included to further explore voice leading principles presented in the book.

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Ukulele Chords

This mini (1/2 size) chord book is the perfect size for every ukulele gig bag or case and a great addition to you music book library.

Ukulele Chords covers basic open position and basic movable form chords. From these two chord categories a variety of songs and styles can be played.

Seventh chords, Major Sevenths, Minor Sevenths, Diminished, Augmented chords sus and add chords.

Tunings: C with low or high G - (GCEA or gCEA).

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Ukulele for Guitar Players

You already know more than you think!

A guide to transferring the accumulated experience and knowledge gained as a guitar player to the ukulele.

Covers chords, scales, reading and the three most common ukulele tunings.

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More lessons and information on the chords and chord progressions can be found on the Ukulele Chords, Lesson pages.

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Content is always being added and updated. So check-in often. Thanks, Curt

Over 500+ lessons, 54 songs and TABS, 240+ archtop luthiers, 200+ ukulele builders, festival information, ukulele links on the web. On the web since the early 90's and growing everyday. This site just never stops growing!!!

[ UL0 ] (ukulele) CHORDS.PHP | Updated: Saturday, 28th June, 2014 @ 03:15pm • 10 Visitors On-line