The Blues: 3 chords that always taste fresh

When you think about it, the blues is a miracle. A musical Peter Pan. Millions of songs based on just 3 chords that never get old.

I don’t want to try to “define” what it is exactly about blues music that makes it so rewarding to play, but rather marvel at the experience of walking down that old 12-bar harmonic road, again and again, without ever tiring of it. The I chord for 4 bars, then a movement away, to the IV chord which then returns to the tonic. Then to the dominant before resolving once more.

Put another way, you start out in the comfort of your own home. After a while you want a little adventure so you go outside, get some fresh air and go back inside. Then you decide to journey a bit further only to return home by nightfall.

This is the journey that countless musicians take every day and every night, year in and year out. In acoustic settings or electric, and with either a rock or swing feel. Simple or complex, basic or embellished, those 3 chords reveal something new each and every time they’re played. They will always sound and taste fresh.

If you want to hear how the blues has developed over the past century, take a look at my video Evolution of Blues Piano. I had a lot of fun putting that arrangement together!

Get my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You’ll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration

Leave a Comment

Sign up for Blog Updates