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  1. #1

    What chords do you use to replace the IV in a standard Blues progression

    I'm exploring substitutions for the IV chord in blues progression (5th bar) always return to the IV7 because I'm basically a Blues player and it sounds very natural to me...

    So if you use other chords at this spot, maybe with another 'passing' chord in the 4th bar - what do you like using? and why?

  2. #2
    You can do a ii-V to the IV in the 4th bar, then a #iv dim or a iv minor in bar 6.. I always play a IV bar 5
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Or bVII7
    wouldn't barry say IVm and bVII7 are the same chord though?

    *not trying to hijack thread

  6. #6
    I've always thought that the IV chord in bar 5 was one of the defining features of a 12 bar Blues. Is that incorrect? Are there any examples of a 12 bar Blues that doesn't go to the IV in bar 5?
    Last edited by Jack E Blue; 06-08-2018 at 11:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by don_oz View Post
    wouldn't barry say IVm and bVII7 are the same chord though?

    *not trying to hijack thread
    dunno

  8. #8
    The only thing (so far) I can think of is backcycling, something like this:

    C7 - F7 - C7 - % (or better, run down to the A7: C7/B7-Bb7)
    A7 - % - D7 - %
    G7 - % - C7 - G7

    Break it up with ii's:

    C7 - F7 - C7 - C7/B7-Bb7
    A7 - Em7/A7 - D7 - Am7/D7
    G7 - Dm7/G7 - C7 - G7

    That's quite nice. It eventually resolves

    Or maybe:

    C7 - F7 - C7 - %
    F#7 - B7 - E7 - A7
    D7 - G7 - C7 - G7

    Then maybe introduce ii's into that. Or sub with tritones, etc. Nothing ventured :-)

  9. #9
    It's seriously amazing how it works over almost anything. This is the same solo over the standard progression first:

    C7 - F7 - C7 - Gm7/C7
    F7 - F#o - C7 - A7
    Dm7 - G7 - C7/A7 - Dm7/G7

    Then over this idea which I took at random. There are chords in here which don't go at all with the ones above:

    C7 - B7 - C7 - Db7/C7
    B7 - E7 - Bb7 - Eb7
    Ab7 - Db7 - C7 - G7 (C7)

    It's a mystery.


  10. #10
    Great suggestions, thank you. Probably should have said it in the OP... what I currently use is:
    1. tritone for the IV (B7 if playing on C).
    2. mVII7 (Bb7)
    3. mVIIsus2 (Bbsus2) has the 1st and 5th of the IV chord and it still sounds Bluesy
    4. IIm7 (Dm7) has all the notes of the IV so it's an obvious choice in my opinion.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack E Blue View Post
    I've always thought that the IV chord in bar 5 was one of the defining features of a 12 bar Blues. Is that incorrect? Are there any examples of a 12 bar Blues that doesn't go to the IV in bar 5?
    I also can't think of any significant examples. That's why I started the thread.

  12. #12
    A better approach could be to think of a blues... in a functional view.... I IV V are the three functions.
    Function is just how much the chord creates a perception of motion or sustain in relationship to a tonal center. Traditionally called,
    Tonic Subdominant and Dominant. So if your playing a blues in Bb.... Bb7 is the tonic, Eb7 is the subdominant and F7 is the Dominant.

    Then you start using substitutions, chord patterns etc...

    So the obvious sub would be II-7 and add the related V7 to help push back to I7

    So bIII is a functional subdominant sub

    Bb13 / Eb7 / Bb7 / Bb /
    Db7 / C-7 F7/ Bb7 / G7 /
    C-7.../ F7 / I VI / II V /

    bVII7 can also be Functional SD sub.

    There are 100's of possibilities.... just mechanically. Some take more setup.

    There is the 1st layer of substitution, and then you can use sub of sub....

    Bb7 / Eb7 / Bb7 / Bb7 /

    Use bVII7 or Ab7 as sub for Eb7... Now you can sub for that Ab7.

    Depending on how you want to frame that sub of the IV chord.... you have many choices, That Ab7 can become target of Chord Pattern, can be the related chord of a different chord pattern.

    There are no real limits besides what skills you have....

    I think when I was a kid.... I was taught to to come up with reasons, (organization) how any chord could be used as sub...
    Try using all roots (all 12) as sub for the IV chord and come up with organization that could make it work... sound right.

    So the question becomes how to use subs... not what are they.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Reg View Post

    I think when I was a kid.... I was taught to to come up with reasons, (organization) how any chord could be used as sub...
    Try using all roots (all 12) as sub for the IV chord and come up with organization that could make it work... sound right.

    So the question becomes how to use subs... not what are they.
    What cool exercise, I’m gunna try this
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    bIV dim is also "exciting" top my ears. Which chord suits best might be determined by the desired bass line. Dogmatic blues speaking I think the chord in bar 5 should be a IV. In a more poppy, jazzy or rocky context deviations are widely accepted. So it also depends on what you want to express. The structural simplicity of "classic" blues is TME (to my ears) part of the beauty and leaves more room for the story which is told by the singer.

  15. #15
    Bar5 I sometimes might use Idim ...

  16. #16
    I also believe that the basic I7 IV7 , F7 to Bb7 is grease or dirt harmonically of all blues... but I also hear and understand that to be... Tonic to subdominant.... the V chord, (dominant), is just used to shape the Form, both micro and macro.

  17. #17
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    Seems like in many blues, Bars 7 and 8 are the ones most ripe for substitutions. Playing bars 5 and 6 mostly straight sets it up.

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    I think a lot of bop players like to play straight IV there, #ivo7 can be a bit fussy.

    Contrary to some textbooks that sub was in use since the early 20s

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    Also io7 in bar 2. Nice!

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post

    Verrry nice.

  22. #22
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    Some blues do the quick change and go to the IV in the second bar. A nice way to change up that quick change iV is to replace it with a V aug sound. Very old school sound...

    Duved uses it here along with the IV to IV minor sound:

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