12 Essential Blues Turnarounds
by Andy Ellis Are your blues a little tired? Crave some fresh sounds? Guitar Lesson Click here to download the power tab for this guitar lesson. Form and Function First, a definition: A turnaround is a short (typically two-bar) passage at the end of a blues progression that’s designed to elegantly walk you to the V7, which in turn resolves to the I7 in bar 1. Contrary Motion A turnaround derives its energy from tension and release. Take a close look at the intervals in bar 1’s second, third, and fourth beats. Contrary motion also powers Ex. 2. You don’t have to arpeggiate the intervals. Contractions Many turnarounds feature a moving line against a repeated, static note. The Eaug functions as an uptown V7, adding a touch of jazzy sophistication. Let’s first analyze this turnaround in terms of scale degrees: The line comprises 3, 4, b5, and 5, and the root repeats above it. We’re in the key of C. That’s cool—but why stop there?
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