Minor Blues Chord Progression
The Professor
Aug 17 2013, 10:40 AM
Theory Instructor
Posts: 888
Joined: 8-January 13
From: Manchester UK
The Minor Blues Progression

Though not as popular as it’s major blues cousin, the Minor Blues form and chord progression is commonly found in many styles of guitar music, especially those influenced by the blues tradition.

The Minor Blues is one of the most commonly used forms and chord progressions in modern music, as you can find it in Rock, Blues, Jazz, Funk, Soul, R&B, Pop and Country music, especially on song written by or featuring guitarists.

In today’s lesson, we’ll be looking into how you build and recognize a Minor Blues tune, 10 songs that use this form and then test your theory chops as you work through a few transposition exercises with this common musical form.

What Is A Minor Blues?

The Minor Blues is built in a similar fashion to the I IV V blues chord progression that we looked at earlier in this series of lessons.

But there are a few main differences between these two blues forms that we need to take a look at.

First, is the type of chords used in each of these progressions. Normally, you would find the I7, IV7 and V7 chords in a major blues progression, but in minor these chords are different.

You are building the chord progression for a Minor Blues from the notes of the tonic Harmonic Minor Scale.

This means, that you take the first, 4th, 5th and 6th notes of that scale, stack 3rds on top of those notes, and you have the chords needed to build a minor blues progression.

Here are those chords as taken from the A Harmonic Minor Scale, and used to build the four chords in an A Minor Blues chord progression.

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The form of a Minor Blues is 12 bars long, the same as the I IV V Blues, but since we have four different chords, their order is somewhat different, especially in the last four bars of the song.

In this case, the i chord is in bars 1-4, 7-8 and 11-12. The iv chord is in bars 5-7, with the VI chord in bar 9, and the V chord in bar 10 only.

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Try playing through this minor blues progression on the guitar to get the sound of the form, and the four chords, into your ears and under your fingers before checking out some of the famous Minor Blues tunes below.

10 Minor Blues Songs

Here is a list of 10 classic songs that use the Minor Blues form. Though some of these songs were written by earlier musicians, which you should also check out, I’ve included the names of the most well-known recordings and covers so you can check those out as well.

As the minor blues form and chord order changes with every player, and sometimes between covers of the same song, this list contains “pure” Minor Blues songs, as well as songs that use variations of that form to check out.

Tin Pan Alley - Stevie Ray Vaughan
The Thrill is Gone - B.B. King
Double Trouble - Otis Rush
Midnight Blues - Gary Moore
I Put a Spell On You - CCR/Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Black Magic Woman - Fleetwood Mac
Mr P.C. - John Coltrane
Blue Jean Blues - Jeff Healy/Billy Gibbons
If Heartaches Were Nickels - Joe Bonamassa
Since I’ve Been Loving You - Led Zeppelin

Do you have a favorite Minor Blues song? Share it in the comments section below.

Test Your Theory Chops

After you have checked out the examples above, and learned about how to build a Minor Blues Progression, you can test you theory chops by writing out the minor blues chords in A, E, D, G and B.

Here is a blank form that you can use to do your work on, and you can post your answers in the thread below, just use the “spoiler” tag on the left of this screen to hide your answers.

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Here are the answers if you want to check your work.

Am Dm E F
Em Am B C
Dm Gm A Bb
Gm Cm D Eb
Bm Em F# G

Do you have any questions about the Minor Blues? Share your thoughts in the thread below.

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