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Sixteen-bar blues

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Title: Sixteen-bar blues  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Eight-bar blues, List of chord progressions, Twelve-bar blues, Lady Bird (composition), Sixteen bar sections
Collection: Chord Progressions, Sixteen Bar Sections
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Sixteen-bar blues

The sixteen-bar blues can be a variation on the standard twelve-bar blues or on the less common eight-bar blues. Sixteen-bar blues is also used commonly in ragtime music.


  • Adaptation from twelve-bar progression 1
  • Adaptation from eight-bar progression 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Adaptation from twelve-bar progression

Most sixteen bar blues are adapted from a standard twelve-bar progression, i.e.,

by applying one of several formulae including the following:


(1a) Twelve-bar progression's first tonic chords (bars 1-4) are doubled in length or repeated, becoming the first half (bars 1-8) of the sixteen-bar progression

(1b) Twelve-bar progression's last dominant, subdominant, and tonic chords (bars 9, 10, and 11-12, respectively) are doubled in length, becoming the sixteen-bar progression's 9th-10th, 11th-12th, and 13th-16th bars

(2a) Twelve-bar middle section (subdominant on bars 5-6, tonic on 7-8) is repeated, often along with its lyrical-melodic material

(2b) Transition from ninth (dominant) to tenth (subdominant) twelve-bar chord is repeated twice

(3) Transition from ninth (dominant) to tenth (subdominant) twelve-bar chord is repeated once; last tonic chord bars are doubled in length

Adaptation from eight-bar progression

Alternatively, a sixteen bar blues can be adapted from a standard eight bar blues by repeating each measure of the eight-bar progression and playing the result at double speed (doppio movimento).

See also


  1. ^ The Blues. Hal Leonard Corporation. 1995. pp. 112–113.  
  2. ^ a review of Elijah Wald (2005). Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues, Amistad. ISBN 0-06-052423-5 on Google group
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