Sunday, February 26, 2012

8 Bar Blues

As my 30-day blues writing challenge winds down, my friend (and musical insurrectionist) Jim Brenan suggested that I write an 8 bar blues.  Maybe I'm living under a rock, but I must admit to having never heard of such a thing. 

Naturally, I turned to THE SOURCE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE: Wikipedia.  Sure enough, I found a concise article entitled "Eight-bar blues" which not only verified the form's existence but referred to it as "the second most common blues form".  It provided me with the following progression, where the IV chord lands in measure 3 and there is "a characteristic V chord in measure 2".

Obviously I have a lot more research to do when it comes to this progression.  The article says it is commonly used in jazz, but it doesn't site an example that I recognize, and none come readily to mind.  If you know of one, please leave it in the comments of this blog (rather than on Facebook, for the sake of future readers).

Ignorance has yet to prevent me from diving in and trying something new, so here is my first attempt at making music with this 8-bar form:


  1. My dad was a folk/blues guitarist and I remember many/most of the old time tunes he played were 8 bar blues. I think there aren't many 8 bar blues in jazz, but if you connect four 8 bar blues sections you get many 32 bar tunes. Yes, I'm trying to think of an example.

    I love the wording "2nd most popular blues progression". John McCain was the "2nd most popular presidential candidate".

    1. I got a kick out of that phrase too. Thanks for reading, Brandt.

  2. I play a fair amount of 12 bar blues, and a little bit of 16 bar blues on the blues harmonica, and 8 bar is out there, but I've only encountered it a few times in four years of study. I like the cadence, it is snappy and the accelerated repetition of the bars, 33% "quicker" than 12 bar, gives the song a different feel. Introducing the V chord in the second measure gives the listener some real bite early on.