Latin Blues Chord Progressions

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

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’

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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About Mike Hayes

Mike Hayes is a professional musician/guitarist and educator. Mike has recorded as a session guitarist in some of the world’s finest recording studios as well as sharing the stage with many top international acts including the legendary rock guitarist Phil Emmanuel, jazz great George Golla and world renowned Hawaiian guitarist Jerry Byrd. He has had the thrill of having his music officially listed in the 31st annual Grammy awards ballot “Best Instrumental” category. In addition, Mike has studied arranging and composing from Berklee College, Boston USA, and recording engineering with Peter Miller - former producer for the Beatles (Audio Institute of San Francisco, USA). Mike continues to operate Australia’s Premier private guitar instruction studio whilst his versatile guitar playing skills are always in high demand for a multitude of projects; music videos, demo’s, albums, you name it … he’s done it! Author - Best Selling Express Guitar™ Series
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