Is playing blues understood as advanced skill or something that it is possible to start learning without significant background?

I basically know which notes are which on the keyboard and can play some simple melodies from my textbook. How important is to spend more time on general studies? Blues seems attractive for me because of the rhythm and possibility of improvisation.

  • until you learn the blues scales Feb 21, 2014 at 16:42

3 Answers 3


A lot of blues numbers are built around the 12-bar sequence. This is, in its simplest form, I I I I IV IV I I V IV I V. Put this in, say, C,and the chord sequence is four bars of C, two bars of F, two bars of C, one of G, one of F, one of C, and the turnaround chord of G. Each of these sounds more bluesy with the added b7. So the first C7 chord will contain C-E-G and Bb. Play these as block chords, or arpeggiate them: playing C-E-G-Bb on each beat in each bar will be a start for you.(This is left hand accompaniment, for you to improvise with right hand over it).

You should start NOW !!There's no need to get any more knowledge in order to get going !


You don't say how much musical knowledge you have away from piano. I play guitar, I've never studied piano and I don't own a keyboard instrument. But I can play bluesy stuff on the piano no problem. Here's a bluffer's guide to playing blues in the key of Am/C which is of course the easiest key to play on piano.

Right hand: Blues scale A C D Eb E G. the Eb gives it the bluesy feel, especially if you play A C D Eb!. You might get away with throwing in a B, but an F will sound way too jolly.

Left hand: play an A5 (E+A, with the E low.) Following the blues progression, introduce D5 (A+D) and E5 (B+E). To give more variation, build up rhythms by adding 6ths and 7ths (the notes in between the ones you are already playing.

The opening of Beethoven's Fur Elise follows a blues scale an makes an awesome crossover piece if you change the rhythm slightly.

Note: by A5 I mean A with no third. This term is common in rock, not sure if it is used in classical.

  • Most people play left hand 5 chords with the root note at the bottom. The blues notes you mention also work when the key is A major. Especially when one plays with another person who can/will play the dom.7th chords, or even just the majors. Interesting reference to Fur Elise !
    – Tim
    Feb 21, 2014 at 13:05
  • @tim 1.sure, but if you're a total beginner, playing a root and 5th and then adding in a 6th or 7th for colour is a long stretch for your hand. As I say, this is a bluffer's guide. 2. Correct again, but I like my blues to be moody. With A major I might call it rock and roll. Feb 21, 2014 at 13:39
  • [email protected]. most grown ups can reach an octave, even as beginners, and a b7 under a root can sound quite 'muddy'.2. It's subjective, but I've always said that maj.3 ought to be part of the blues notes. How many blues players out there DON'T use it in their solos?
    – Tim
    Feb 21, 2014 at 13:46
  • 1
    @tim your points are completely valid and I'm glad you made them, they add to my answer. But my main point is there's no reason not to learn blues from the very start if that's what you want to do. Feb 21, 2014 at 13:59

Just start doing it. Obvious starting point is to just play around with the blues scale.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.