Blue Form and Style

Posted on March 29, 2020

Blues is a twelve-measure form divided into three four-measure phrases. Regardless of style and degree of harmonic sophistication, all blues have the same harmonic functions occurring in the same places within the form. Blues must have at least this amount of, and placement of, harmonic activity to be considered the blues. – Berklee Music Theory 201


Basic Blues Form:

Most common variation:

One interpretation:


Major scale superimposed with flatted 3rd, the flatted 5th, and the flatted 7th (blue notes).

Chord Symbols Blues Common tensions

where is b5

I I7 (with b7) #9 (with b3) #11 of I7
IV IV7 (with b3)   b9 of IV7
V V7 b13 (with b3)  


(Berklee 201) Blues scale: 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7, 1

( Blues scale is the pentatonic scale with one more note (added in the scale). This note is known as “Blue note” and it is the flattened fifth in the case of the minor pentatonic, or the flattened third in the case of the major pentatonic
namely: 1, 2, b2, 3, 5, 6, 1

Rhythm changes :

12-measure blues variation:


For more detailed background stories: