BLUES TURN­AROUNDS

From 10 leg­endary play­ers

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Phil Capone of­fers three turn­arounds in the style of 10 leg­ends: T-Bone Walker, Al­bert King, BB King, Eric Clap­ton, Peter Green, SRV, Gary Moore, Car­los San­tana, Robben Ford and Larry Carlton.

What ex­actly is a turn­around? As its name sug­gests, the turn­around is a mu­si­cal tool that’s used to pro­vide har­monic in­ter­est while ‘turn­ing’ the mu­sic back around to the start of the next verse. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, a turn­around will be two bars long and lo­cated at the end of the chord se­quence; this ap­plies to all com­mon forms of the blues (and jazz stan­dards too), whether you’re faced with an eight-bar, 12-bar, or 16-bar form.

But let’s con­sider the turn­around in the con­text of a reg­u­lar 12-bar blues: the melody gen­er­ally con­cludes at the be­gin­ning of the 10th bar, so in­stead of sim­ply hav­ing two fur­ther bars of the tonic chord a chordal turn­around is in­serted to gen­er­ate in­ter­est and sign­post the start of the se­quence.

Turn­arounds are usu­ally im­pro­vised and gen­er­ally con­sist of four chords (two per bar), usu­ally I-IV-I-V but some­times the jazz­ier I-VI-II-V. There are many vari­a­tions on these two ba­sic forms, as you will dis­cover in this fea­ture. The chord types can be di­a­tonic or non-di­a­tonic (ie in the same key or not) and are also in­flu­enced by the style of blues (Ma­jor or Mi­nor, etc). It’s gen­er­ally un­der­stood that the pro­fes­sional player will be com­pletely au fait with the har­monic in­tri­ca­cies that the many per­mu­ta­tions of these two ba­sic forms can gen­er­ate. If you’re on a gig with a key­board player you’d be ex­pected to sim­ply suss these out these on the fly, the chords rarely if ever be­ing dis­cussed.

The ex­am­ples in this ar­ti­cle are pre­sented in the style of 10 of the most in­flu­en­tial blues play­ers ever. There are three ex­am­ples for each player cov­er­ing both Ma­jor and Mi­nor keys and be­cause licks can of­ten be in­ter­changed be­tween Ma­jor and Mi­nor keys these start on the same root note with a range of grooves and tem­pos. In­stead of il­lus­trat­ing the turn­around in iso­la­tion, the ex­am­ples are pre­sented as they would oc­cur in the last four bars of a 12-bar blues pro­gres­sion, ie: V / / / IV / / / I / IV / I / V (and vari­a­tions thereof). A great bonus is that this se­quence is also com­monly used as an in­tro, so these ex­er­cises will also tool you up for some cool in­tro guitar so­los.

One of the most in­ter­est­ing as­pects of the turn­around is that, be­cause it oc­curs at the end of the melody (ie vo­cal) it is a clear space that the gui­tarist can fill, whether they’re solo­ing or not. To skil­fully ne­go­ti­ate this se­quence and make your play­ing sound re­laxed and ca­sual takes a lot of prac­tice, whether ap­ply­ing the mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic through­out or shift­ing your har­monic ap­proach with each chang­ing chord. One thing is for sure, prac­tis­ing turn­arounds will im­prove of your blues solo­ing. The turn­around con­tains all of the chords of the blues but in con­densed form, so you re­ally need to keep on top of the changes and hit those tar­get notes on the money.

Not sur­pris­ingly, dif­fer­ent play­ers ap­proach turn­arounds dif­fer­ently. Some plough through the changes tak­ing lit­tle heed of the chords, while oth­ers care­fully tar­get notes in each chord to cre­ate ‘shape’. Over the next pages you’ll find 30 turn­arounds that demon­strate how our 10 blues greats tackle the is­sue. Great in­spi­ra­tion - great fun too!

the turn­around con­tains all the Blues chords But in con­densed form, so you need to keep on top of the changes

Clap­ton takes a va­ri­ety of ap­proaches to turn­arounds

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