BY SCOTT MCGILL
IN THIS LESSON WE’LL BE LOOKING
at blues turnarounds, or “turnbacks” as
they are sometimes called. Turnarounds normally
occur in bars 11 and 12 in a standard
12-bar blues, and having a few good ones
under your fingers is invaluable for jam sessions,
solo playing, or writing tunes in the
blues idiom. This month’s examples would
work best using a fingerstyle or hybrid picking
technique. Let’s have a look.
Ex. 1 is a classic Robert Johnson-style
turnaround in the key of A using a common
descending bass line starting on the lowered
7th (G, in this case). Ex. 2 in the key of E is
something a mid-’70s Johnny Winter might
do. It ascends starting on
the major 3rd (G#) and
finishes nicely with some
7th chords. Ex. 3 applies
the ideas from the previous
two examples with bar
1 using a pedal tone with
descending 6ths, bar 2 using
a familiar bass line with
a bluesy melody in counterpoint,
bar 3 employing
descending 12ths with a
repeated riff on the high
E string, and bar 4 featuring
diminished chords, the
opposite of what occurred
in Ex. 2.
Grab any or all of these turnarounds for
use in your own playing. They also sound
great in a band situation by having the
bassist play the lowest notes with you.
Scott McGill is an instructor and BA (hons)
Course Leader at the Brighton Institute of Modern
Music in England.
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