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Latin Blues Chord Progressions

By Mike Hayes | July 28, 2010

Learning about chord progressions is a fascinating study it’s
definitely part of the art of playing rhythm guitar; the ability
to enhance a performance by adding the appropriate harmonic
texture is very satisfying and gives your music it’s own unique
sound.

In previous articles I have discussed the basic 12 bar blues
progressions in this article I’m going to focus on the Latin
blues progression.

Let’s see how we can create a 12 bar blues chord progression
with a Latin feel, it will certainly surprise musicians at your
next jam session!

Here’s a quick reminder of the basic set of chords in a 12 bar
blues presented in the key of ‘C’.

Original chords.

C /// | C /// | C /// | C /// |

F /// | F /// | C /// | C /// |

G7 ///| G7/// | C /// | G7/// || C (last time)

Latin style blues chord progression

Cmaj7 /// | Bm7b5 / E7b9/ | Am /Ab7 / | Gm7 /C7 / |

Fmaj7 /// | Fm7 /// | Em7 /// | A7 /// |

D7 ///| Dm7/G7/ | C /F7/ | Cmaj7/ G7+/ || Cmaj7 (last time)

Harmonic analysis

Bar 1: Cmaj7 substitute for ‘C’ major chord

Bar 2: Bm7b5 (aka B half diminished) to E7b9 is a two, five
progression in the key of A harmonic minor; notice how these two
chords resolve to the ‘Am’ chord in bar three.

It’s important to note also that the Bm7b5 to E7b9 is the
beginning of a cycle movement chord progression.

Bar 3: ‘Am’ is the relative minor of ‘C’ major and in this
instance it is being substituted for the ‘C’ chord in bar three
(refer to original chord progression).

The Ab7 is a flat five substitution for a D7 chord; D7 would be
the next logical chord to occur in our cyclic chord progression
after the ‘Am’ chord.

How this works:

Notes of D7 = D, F#,A ,C

Notes of Ab7 = Ab, C, Gb, Eb

Applying the flat five substitution principle (tri-tone
substitution); if we flatten the fifth note of the D7 thereby
making the ‘A’ note an ‘Ab’ we now have three notes of an ‘Ab7′
chord.

D7 = D, F#,A ,C

D7 with the flat five note = D, F#,Ab ,C compare these notes to
the notes of an Ab7 chord: Ab, C, Eb, Gb.

When studying this example keep in mind that F# and Gb are the
same note.

Bar 4: Gm7 to C7 is a two, five progression in the key of F;
notice how this progression resolves to the one chord (Fmaj7) in
bar five.

Bar 6: Fm7 is a two chord in the key of ‘Eb’.

Bar 7: Em7 is a substitute for Cmaj7 (specifically Cmaj9).

Notes in Cmaj9 = C, E, G , B, D

Notes in Em7 = E, G, B, D

Notice how both chords contain the same notes only the Cmaj9
contains an additional ‘C’ note therefore it could be correctly
stated that a Cmaj9 chord could also be written as Em7/C.

Bar 8: A7 chord continues the cycle movement; A7 is chord five in
the key of ‘D’.

Bar 9: D7, again part of the cycle movement chord progression; D7
is chord five in the key of ‘G’.

Bar 10: Dm7 to G7 is a two five progression in the key of ‘C’.

Bar 11: C to F7; a one to four progression.

Bar 12: Cmaj7 to G7+ is a one to altered five progression; G7+ is
a G dominant seventh chord with a sharpened fifth.

The ‘G’ whole tone scale will work well over the G7+ chord.

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