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Blues Guitar Lesson: 12-Bar Blues Turnarounds & Endings


In the vast landscape of musical genres, the 12-bar blues stands as a timeless testament to the soulful and expressive nature of music. As we delve into the intricate layers of this genre, one cannot overlook the significance of turnarounds and endings, the subtle yet powerful elements that punctuate the rhythmic heartbeat of the blues.


Whether you're a seasoned blues guitarist or just stepping into the soul-stirring realm of this genre, understanding the role of turnarounds is crucial to grasping the essence of the blues progression. These melodic twists and turns serve as the final punctuation in each 12-bar cycle, ushering us from resolution to anticipation and back again.


In this blues guitar lesson, critically acclaimed guitarist, former Director of Programs at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, CA, and ArtistWorks master instructor, Keith Wyatt, teaches how to elegantly transition from the end of the 12-bar blues form back to the top—using a technique referred to as a turnaround—and how to bring a 12-bar blues tune to a close and end the piece.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play blues guitar from a master musician like Keith Wyatt? Try some free online blues guitar lessons now!


What is a turnaround in the context of 12-bar blues?

In the context of a 12-bar blues, a turnaround is a musical phrase or set of chords that occurs at the end of a section, typically leading to the beginning of the next cycle of the 12-bar progression. Turnarounds serve as a transitional element, adding variation and anticipation to the structure of the blues. They often create tension and resolution, guiding the listener's ear back to the starting point of the blues progression.


Turnarounds can be musically distinct, showcasing the player's improvisational skills and adding a unique flavor to each rendition of the blues. Commonly, turnarounds are found in the last two bars of the 12-bar blues, helping to complete the musical cycle and maintain the rhythmic and harmonic flow of the blues tradition.


“When you listen to 12-bar blues songs, there’s almost always an identifiable transition, sort of a musical figure, that everyone in the band plays together to migrate from the end to the top of the 12-bar blues form,” explains Keith. “One common way that guitarists approach this is with a couple of chord moves with a few specific rhythms, which we’ll be going over in this lesson. Understanding these transitions and how guitarists approach turnarounds is critical to mastering your blues vocabulary.”


To learn more about turnarounds and endings in the context of a 12-bar blues and how to begin implementing them into your playing, dive into this online slide guitar lesson from Keith Wyatt:


12-Bar Blues Turnarounds & Endings with Keith Wyatt:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play the blues guitar? Through our comprehensive blues guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Keith Wyatt, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Keith’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced performance techniques, classic blues tunes, improvisation, music theory, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as blues guitarists and musicians.


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



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