The 12 bar blues has long been a favourite amongst music educators for teaching form, triads, the blues scale, cyclical chord progressions and music history. Here are some of my favourite online music resources:
1. Carnegie Hall history of African American Music. Includes an interactive timeline with historical information and listening examples.
2. Wikipedia Blues history article.
4. List of blues genres on Wikipedia (there are many!)
5. The Blues music history timeline.
6. 30 key blues musicians in pictures
7. Best blues artists of all time – a ranked list
Blues Songs Lists and Listening Examples
8. Visit your favourite music streaming service (I use Spotify) and search for blues playlists that have been curated by others
9. The Wikipedia list of blues standards
10. Visit the iTunes store and search “blues” to find hundreds of blues examples. You can play 90 seconds of each track before purchasing it.
11. Clips from the 7-part PBS series The Blues.
12. A list of instruments commonly played by blues musicians
Well this section could have been VERY long so I’ve chosen just a handful of songs. Most of the songs listed are in the 12 bar blues format.
14. Mamie Smith singing the Harlem Blues
15. Glenn Miller and his band playing In The Mood
16. B.B. King The Thrill Is Gone
17. Rock Me Baby featuring BB King, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and Jim Vaughan.
18. James Brown singing I Feel Good
19. Herbie Hancock performing Watermelon Man on Soul Train
20. The Wikipedia article on how the 12 bar blues is constructed
21. Wikipedia article about the blues scale.
22. Lessons (mostly for guitarists) on Youtube.
23. One good example of a blues guitar lesson (by Next Level Guitar)
24. A downloadable collection of blues licks for keyboard players. You can download a MuseScore score, a PDF or MusicXML file (which is compatible with any notation software)
25. Having trouble working out the meaning of those blues lyrics? This blues glossary might help. Includes the meaning of some slang terms and describes locations named in songs.
26. Play a little Desktop blues. Click on the Click Here button to start and then make sure to turn on the radio by clicking the appropriate button so that the backing track plays. You can then click on the coloured squares to “improvise” guitar licks and vocals. The vocals seem to work best: it’s difficult to get the guitar parts in time with the backing, but the vocals sound OK if the timing is “free”.
27. Ever wondered what your blues name is? Use this blues name generator to find out