How to Write Music to a Blues Song

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking to add some bluesy flavor to your music? In this blog post, we’ll show you how to write music to a blues song. By following a few simple tips, you can give your songs that signature blues sound.

Basic Elements of a Blues Song

A blues song is usually about three things: the hard times in life, the hope that things will get better, and the good times. The blues is a music style that originated in the African-American communities in the Deep South of the United States around the end of the 19th century.

The 12-bar blues format

The 12-bar blues is by far the most common blues song form. If you’ve ever heard a blues song on the radio, chances are it was a 12-bar blues. The vast majority of blues songs are 12 bars long, and the 12-bar format is a part of practically every other style of popular music that has been influenced by the blues, from rock and roll to jazz to country.

The basic structure of a 12-bar blues is:


The blues scale

The basis of writing a blues song is understanding the 12 bar blues structure and chord progression. A good way to get started is to familiarize yourself with the blues scale. The blues scale is a minor pentatonic scale with an added flat 5th, or blue note. This note gives the blues its characteristic sound.

The blues scale can be played on any instrument, and it’s a good idea to practice it in all 12 keys. Once you’re comfortable with the scale, you can start improvising and playing around with different chords and progressions.

Here’s an example of the blues scale in the key of C:


And here’s an example of a 12 bar blues progression in the key of C:


Writing the Lyrics

When it comes to writing the lyrics to a blues song, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. The lyrics should tell a story that is personal to you, and it should be about something that you have experienced. It is also important to use simple language that everyone can understand.

Themes and subject matter

In order to write the lyrics to a blues song, you must first choose a theme or subject matter. The most common themes in blues songs are love, heartbreak, and hope. However, there are many other themes that can be explored. Once you have chosen a theme, you can begin to write the lyrics to your song.

When writing the lyrics to a blues song, it is important to remember that the goal is to tell a story. The lyrics should be personal and specific. In addition, the lyrics should rhyme. This does not mean that every line needs to rhyme with every other line, but there should be a rhyming scheme throughout the song. For example, you could rhyme the first and third lines of each verse, or you could rhyme every other line throughout the song.

Once you have written the lyrics to your song, you will need to set them to music. The most common form of blues music is 12-bar blues. This means that the song is divided into 12 measures, or bars. Each measure contains 4 beats. The melody of the song is typically improvised around a simple chord progression of 3 or 4 chords.


The best blues songs are the ones that tell a story. The story can be personal, something that happened to the singer or someone they know, or it could be a fictional tale. What matters is that the story is interesting and engaging, and that it fits well with the music.

When you’re writing lyrics for a blues song, it’s important to keep the following things in mind:

-The lyrics should be simple and direct. Blues songs are not meant to be complex or difficult to understand.
-The focus should be on the emotions being conveyed, rather than on literary devices or clever wordplay.
-The lyrics should tell a story that captures the essence of the blues experience.

Writing the Music

The music to a blues song is simple. It’s all about the feel. The best way to get started is to listen to some blues songs and get a feel for the music. Then, start with a simple 12-bar blues progression. The 12-bar blues progression is the most common progression in blues music.

The chord progression

The chord progression is the foundation of a song. It’s what gives a song its harmonic movement. In a blues song, the chord progression will usually move from the I chord to the IV chord and back again. Sometimes it will go to the V chord as well. The I, IV and V chords are all major chords. The Roman numerals correspond to their position in the major scale. So, in the key of C, the I, IV and V chords would be C, F and G respectively.

The melody

One of the most important aspects of a blues song is the melody. The melody is what makes a blues song unique and memorable, and it is what will keep people coming back to your song. There are a few things to keep in mind when writing a melody for a blues song.

First, the melody should be simple. A good rule of thumb is to keep the melody within a four-note range. This will help to make your melody more catchy and easier to remember. Second, the melody should have a repetitive quality to it. This repetition will help to create a hook that people can remember and sing along with. Finally, the melody should be emotive and convey the feeling of the blues. A good way to do this is to use blue notes, which are notes that are slightly flattened or sharpened from the major or minor scale. These notes will add a bit of sadness or yearning to your melody, which is perfect for conveying the emotions of the blues.

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