Hey folks,

I'm writing a butt-simple 12-bar blues in G. I'm still a bit of a n00b when it comes to harmonizing and chord progressions, though, and this is my first blues song. I've done the entire thing except for the last two bars - the final I-chords.

My problem is that I'm having a rough time harmonizing the bass and the chords, because I know how I want the song to end, but - I think - it's deviating from the traditional structure of that form and I don't want to simply throw up my hands and say "this is how it's going to end". I want to stick to the structure.

The final measure is fine. It ends on a G, and sounds how I want it to. The problem is the second-to-last measure.

The bass line I came up with walks down from D, like so (all eighth notes);


which I assume is OK, since D is the fifth of the G chord. Trouble is, the chords themselves don't sound so good over that bass line. I tried doing all G5s, but it clashed, so my current revision has the chords to those notes, like so;

D5 D5 C5 C5 B5 B5 A5 A5

My current rationale is that I'm starting on a chord tone (D), so I'm still staying true to the blues progression, and since it was made quite clear to me in my last topic ( ) that diads aren't chords, I can use them to harmonize with the bass without implying a chord-change. After all, they're just intervals and, at the risk of opening up a "modes" debate, I'm shifting the tonic for this last bar.

So, in short... which of my two versions is "better", in terms of being properly constructed... or is there a third solution I'm not seeing? Or, should I really just not give a flip, and end the song however I feel like, no matter how much of a cop-out it seems?

Thanks in advance, and I can post up some tabs if my explanations aren't clear enough.

For the turnaround in the last two bars I'd go either:

Chords (2 beats each)
G7 - E7 - Am7 - D7

Bass notes (eighths) D Eb E Bb A D♯ D F♯


Sub the G7 for Bm7, bass notes stay the same. You want to try and make the bass "walk".

The F♯ can lead back to I.
the turnaround in blues has many variations..search the net for "blues turnarounds" you will get several dozen right off..

spend some time on this as the "turnaround" can be a very useful harmonic device not only at the end of a blues progression but can also be an intro or a "set up" to a cadence..or going to a bridge section of a song..

studying what makes this such a interesting progression - the voice movement of the chords..and then seeing them in different settings can open up many new harmonic ideas .. not only in blues progressions but rock and of course jazz...any song structure you like..

play well

Sorry if I wasn't being clear, but I'm not looking for a turnaround. This is literally the final two measures of the song - it doesn't loop back for another verse or go into the bridge, it ends.

What I'm really looking for is a way to walk down from the penultimate measure to the last, but without breaking the chord progression. Or, an explanation on why/why not what I've already written will/won't work within those parameters.
Personally I would go with the II chord, an A, then down to your I chord, your G chord. Maybe try it out.
This post may contain my opinion and/or inaccurate information.

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Im about to compose a bit of a bassline in GuitarPro format for ya, Ill edit it in ...

While Im getting this done Ill just say that quite often a blues ends with a semitone moment to the root, so at the end it might walk from the 3rd (B) to the fifth (C C# D) then comes the semitone finish (G# G ---(rallentano/guitar solo leading to big finish final chord)--- G!)
Also, in some blues pieces Ive played, the final 12 bar progession will have another two or four bars slotted into the middle, usually repeating the V - IV chord movement.

And I think you should go ahead and end it the way you want to end it, provided that it sounds good - some of my favourite blues music is the stuff that doesnt obey the conventions of the genre.

It wolud be easier to answer your question if we had a better idea of what it sounds like so far (what does the guitar part sound like? is it straight or shuffled? what style is it within the spectrum of blues?) Are you writing it in guitarpro or something similar that you could show us?

Edit: I threw together a 12 bar bassline in G showing how I might end it. The GuitarPro file is named Carson Stevens.

I also came across some other blues basslines in my guitar pro folders that you might find useful to either learn or just analyse, ill try attach them all to this post.

The file called X Blues Bass is in A and is a tab I made when I was learning this tune a few years ago for school, and it has a daft bass solo in it that I wrote, but the ending is similar to how the 'Carson Stevens' one ends, and it also has an example of the final chorus being four bars longer - notice the coda. (Wow all these versions on Youtube are rubbish, Im tempted to record my own version to show em how its played lol)

The file named 'Mud Pie bass' is a fast, SRV style texas blues in E. I tabbed out some guitar stuff then got bored, but the basslines there, heres what the guitar sounds like.

I'm also going to attach a file called 'Walking Basslines' which is a series of interesting excerpts of the bassline from the Blues Brothers version of Sweet Home Chicago which I isolated to practice - you might find them interesting, though it doesn't include any endings.
Carson Stevens.gp5
Mud Pie bass.gp5
x blues bass.gp5
Walking Basslines.gp5
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Feb 25, 2012,