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I found many threads and YouTube videos on modulation in general, but not specific to blues.

I’m getting pretty good at the basic I-IV-V progression in blues, playing some old delta-style or BBking style pentatonics. Also experimenting with diminished licks. I’m reaching a plateau though and would love to learn something new. I’m playing the guitar by the way but I suppose theory on modulation applies to all instruments.

So i thought about modulating. How would you modulate into a new key when you’re playing blues, are there some certain types of modulations that work especially well when playing I-IV-V? And are there some good examples of songs that do it? All of the stuff I hear is just based in the same key and repeating bars if I-IV-V with a turnaround.

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  • Are you asking how to use different scales for each chord, or are you asking how to modulate the entire progression into a new key?
    – Aaron
    Jul 1, 2022 at 20:15

3 Answers 3

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A blues tends to stay in the same key. That's sort of what a blues IS. But you could try playing a blues sequence in E, followed by one in G. Then back to E. Do you like it? Does it suggest possibilities?

You could also investigate more complex versions of the blues sequence. Lots of examples here:

https://www.jazzguitar.be/blog/jazz-blues-chord-progressions/

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First attempt to provide an answer over here...

I happened to stumble across your question yesterday night, and I must have, well... slept on it... because when I woke up this morning I came to think of The Doors, whom I haven't listened to since my twenties (turned 40 about a week ago)...

I believe, though, their catalogue might be a good place to look for an answer to the second part of your question, i.e. "are there some good examples of songs that do it?" (An inevitable consequence, I guess, of Morrison's love for the blues meeting Manzarek's aptitude for making things sophisticated...)

Take a tune such as Love Me Two Times, for example: The verse starts off pretty much as a blues pattern in the key of E, mixolydian mode (if I'm parsing it correctly), going up to the subdominant (A7), and falling back to the tonic (E7)... But instead of climbing up to the dominant (B), it hits that brief D7 to C7 progression, which kinda serves as a stepping stone for modulating into the chorus, which is in G. (Or at least that's my understanding.)

My apologies if I'm not using the correct terminology. I'm no schooled musician, and English is not my mother tongue, but I hope I'm contributing - if only my two cents.

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To move into a new key (in just about any style), a simple and effective way is to play the dominant of the new key in the last bar of the old sequence, bringing in the new key on the first bar (usually tonic) in time.

So, a typical 12 bar turn around could now be (in key E) B7 A7 E7 C7 then F7. Or: B7 A7 E7 C♯7 then F♯7. Etc.

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