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Piano Fact

Week 4: Blues Form (Part Two: Seventh Chord Variations)
As we mentioned in the previous week’s fact, there are variations to the basic 12 bar blues form. One of the most straightforward variations is to play all the chords as (dominant) seventh chords. Thus, instead of the pattern from last week (C C C C F F C C G7 F C C), you could play C7 C7 C7 C7 F7 F7 C7 C7 G7 F7 C7 C7.

Try it and hear for yourself whether it sounds familiar. Conventional music theory (coming from the great conservatories of Europe mostly) holds that it’s rare to start a piece on a seventh chord, and it’s unheard of to finish a piece on a seventh chord. The very nature of seventh chords is to inform the ear that it needs to be resolved.

But blues breaks many of the rules that came before. What’s wrong for some types of music is right for another.

Many famous songs are blues based and have seventh chords all the way through. Example: “Woolly Boolly” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and “She’s a Woman” by the Beatles.

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