im trying to figure out what to call the chords in a blues turnaround. lets take A standard blues and the turnaround is

9 8 7 6
8 7 6 5
9 8 7 5

I know the last one is A, but what do you call the other 3 chords making up the turnaround? i mean, how are they constructed?
Just out of curiosity, on what strings are those played on? I'm not sure how to interpret your tab. I could do with a few new turn arounds myself.
sorry, should have mentioned that, they are being played on the high strings.

In the A7th though,


There is no root. how is it then an A7 ?
the heart of the turnaround your using is a descending sixth interval ... e - c# / eb - c / d -b / c# - a...

the chord names are not that important because they can be "parts of chords" and that is another area that takes time to study ... thus the A7 with no root...

this "turnaround" sound can be heard in thousands of blues songs and can be used as an intro or ending or as a run to introduce the next chord

study this interval along with thirds to increase your blues vocabulary...there are lots of basic blues books and some good sites to view

its a valuable style to study because so much of jazz and rock are based on the harmonic devices used in blues and contemporary music

play well

Quote by schmintan

There is no root. how is it then an A7 ?

Neither the root, nor 5th is important in determining basic chord quality. All you need is the 3rd and 7th.

When comping guitar in an ensemble situation, the guitarist can pretty much ignore the roots entirely in the chord voicings. The bass player will be playing it.

There's lot of ways of doing turnarounds - chords, 3rds, 6ths, single note lines... The chromaticism in blues kind of comes from a IV-VI-II-V-I progression. If you tritone sub the V chord, it's chromatic root movement. The last "chord" in the turnaround suggests the V and the I is back at the top.
Quote by wolflen
the heart of the turnaround your using is a descending sixth interval ... e - c# / eb - c / d -b / c# - a...


^what this guy said.

Quote by edg
A7 - Abdim-Gdim-A
if the first chord is a rootless A7 why is the same shape moved down a semitone a Abdim and not a rootless Ab7?

you could also look at the first three as m6 chords without the fifth.
9 = C#
8 = G
9 = E

Em6 = E G B C# drop the fifth and you got EGC#

So Em6 Ebm6 Dm6

But A7 Ab7 G7 works too, especially since it relates so nicely to the open D7 shape without the bass. But you can drop that middle note out and just work the sixths like wolf said and it still sounds like a classic blues cliche.

Now about that A chord at the end. Its standard to have the highest string (the e string) at the top. So...
6 = A#
5 = E
5 = C

Isn't quite an A chord. It's an A#dim. If you put them up the other way so the e string was down the bottom then it's just an inverted A minor...
5 = A
5 = E
6 = C#

Which i'm guessing is what you meant?
Quote by 20Tigers

if the first chord is a rootless A7 why is the same shape moved down a semitone a Abdim and not a rootless Ab7?

Try it with the root as a 4 note voicing. I think most would interpret those as diminished. I think it sounds better that way. With all 4 note voicings I'd make them diminished. I suppose all dom7ths work ok too, but not what I'd use.

"The heart of the turnaround is a descending 6th interval"?

Well, that really does NOT get at where it's coming from. It's a common blues interpretation, yes, but if you look at what THAT in turn is based on, you get a more satisfying answer and one that might allow you to come up with more variations.

It is essentially based on the old II-V-I where it looks something like II/V-V/V - V - I
and since it's all dominant 7ths, essentially a chain of secondary dominants when you work backwards from the original V. If you do the right tritone subs in that, you get a chromatic movement, and a blues turnaround commonly uses 6ths in the chromaticism, but there's lots of variations with NO 6ths at all.
Last edited by edg at Feb 15, 2009,
The 4 note voicing on the A7 works.
But I still don't see how you get Abdim on the second chord? Even with the root in a four note voicing the root is Ab. So the chord would be Ab Eb Gb C. This is still Ab7. For the second chord shape to be considered an Ab diminished it MUST have the Ebb (diminished fifth). Instead it has an Eb which is a perfect fifth above the Ab.

Similarly the third chord is
7 = B
6 = F
7 = D
Gdim = G Bb Db - NONE of these notes are present so again why would you call it a G diminished chord?? I really don't get it. If you do a four note voicing with a G root it's a G7. (If you want to say diminished wouldn't it be a Bdim? B D F = B diminished triad.)

As for the sixths interpretation...
There are also plenty of variations that use ONLY the sixths on the G and E strings. Your analysis is interesting though and not something I'd thought about before. It's definitely something I'll be playing around with though.
Last edited by 20Tigers at Feb 15, 2009,
Quote by 20Tigers
The 4 note voicing on the A7 works.
But I still don't see how you get Abdim on the second chord?

oops. Yeah, I was 1/2 step off. It should be A7-Adim-Abdim-A. I didn't really look at what I first wrote til now.

Anyway, you could just as well call them A7-Ab7-G7, or play a variety of different kind of chords chromatically -- the chromatic movement is ultimately various reharmonizations of II-V-I or 2nd dominant chains. When I see that particular turnaround, I'd play dom-dim-dim as a 4 note voicing, so that's what I'd tend to call it.
Ah...okay then. So you're talking about looking them as fully diminished seventh chords so Adim7 not just a diminished triad like Adim
so it would be A7 - Adim7 - G#dim7 - A

Yeah that voicing does sounds nice with the roots. It would look like this right...
9 8 7 5
8 7 6 5
9 8 7 6
7 7 6 7

So a chain of secondary dominants would be B7 - E7 - A...

And working backwards I see how that G#dim7 is a kind of variation on a diatonic substitution for the E7 sharing 3 out of four chord tones.
E7 = E G# B D
G#dim7 = G# B D F

The Adim7 as a sub for a B works with - again three out of the four chord tones A B and D all present in both chords.

That's about the gist of it right?

You could even use an A#dim7 instead of the A7 as being a sub for F#7 if you thought of it as a four step chain.

But the A7 works better as the root on that first chord just seems to keep the focus on the A so when it comes back as he root in the final chord it's real nice.

Pretty cool.
Quote by 20Tigers

That's about the gist of it right?

That's about right. Basically, the turnaround would start on F# either F#-7 or F#7.
I think it sounds jazzier with a minor 7th. You could use a B7, or tritone sub F7 -- that way you get the chromatic down movement -- F# - F - E -- which is really where the blues turnaround comes from -- 6ths is just a cliche.

Something like: F#-9 -> F7#9 -> E9 -> A13 is a lot jazzier but all related.
9 9 7 7--------------------
9 8 7 6--------------------
7 7 6 5--------------------
9 8 7 -----------------------