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