Easy Blues Piano Songs: 5 Tunes To Learn
Want to learn 5 easy blues piano songs?
You’re in the right place.
In this lesson, you’ll discover 5 easy blues piano songs to learn.
This should get you started with playing blues and jazz blues.
Let’s get started.
Why A Howlin’ Wolf Tune Is The Best Place To Start
The best place to start getting your groove on with the Blues is Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful”:
It’s because you only need to play one chord throughout.
In the original Howlin’ Wolf recording, everybody in the band plays an E7 chord throughout.
It simple enough to memorize and solo over.
The important thing to emphasize in the tune is the shuffle groove.
The pianist in the recording, Otis Spann, is definitely a blues piano legend.
He makes this tune interesting using a steady groovy riff and his trademark piano licks.
Here’s one piano groove for the left hand you can use when playing this tune:
And because you’re only grooving on one chord, you can do a ton of licks over the tune real easy.
Here’s one Otis Spann lick you can use over the tune:
Let’s check out another easy blues piano song to learn.
Why “Born Under A Bad Sign” Is Good For Learning Blues Piano
There are some really great reasons why “Born Under A Bad Sign” is good for learning blues piano:
- It’s a well-known blues tune.
- It follows the standard 12-bar blues format.
- The chord progression is simple is minor blues tune (in the key of C minor) with just Cm7, G7, and F7
Listen to Albert King playing “Born Under a Bad Sign” here:
The main riff for “Born Under A Bad Sign” goes like this:
To improvise over the chords, you can simply use a C minor blues scale.
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Blues licks based on the Cm7 chord or the minor blues scale will also work well.
How Oscar Peterson Uses Easy Blues Piano Songs On Stage
In many ways, we would never expect someone like Oscar Peterson to make use of something simple in his music.
However, you may be relieved to know that simpler music is a springboard for creativity.
In fact, Oscar Peterson took advantage of that a lot, especially in the tune C Jam Blues.
The melody for C Jam Blues is so simple that it only consists of the 5th and the root an octave above.
The chord progression for C Jam Blues has a ii – V – I chord progression for the last 4 bars.
This is what gives a jazzy element to C Jam Blues.
Any blues tune can be given a jazzy twist through:
- Incorporating or inserting ii – V chord progressions in a tune to resolve to any chord.
- Adding a swing groove
While the theme of C Jam Blues may be simple, Oscar Peterson crafts many variations of it in his solos.
Check out this performance of C Jam Blues by Oscar Peterson:
You’re going to see more examples of how to incorporate 2-5-1 chord progressions into blues for the next 2 examples.
How Thelonious Monk Used Easy Blues Piano Songs
Blue Monk is a must-learn easy blues piano songs.
It is in the standard 12-bar blues form, and the chord progression is a standard I-IV-V.
The exception, however, is the addition of a #iv(b5) chord on the 6th bar
Here’s Thelonious Monk himself playing Blue Monk:
The way that Thelonious Monk adds a jazz feel to this tune is through the jazz groove being played throughout.
This jazz groove is mostly being played in the bass and drums.
Some of Thelonious Monk’s chord voicings as well lead to a more jazz-like feel.
In the same manner as Oscar Peterson, Thelonious Monk uses an easy blues piano tune to provide a great platform for improvisation.
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Now let’s look into another blues tune to learn from this legend.
How To Build A Bridge Between Jazz & Blues Like Monk
The last among our list of easy blues piano songs is the Thelonious Monk classic “Straight, No Chaser”.
Here’s Steve playing his arrangement of “Straight, No Chaser”
Learn how to play Straight, No Chaser here.
Some of the things to note about this version of “Straight, No Chaser” are:
- More chord substitutions in the form of 2-5-1 chord progressions as seen on bar 8 (2-5 leading to the Gm7). Bars 9 and 10 has Gm7 and C7, 2-5 leading to F.
- The use of jazz chord voicings in the style of Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly.
- Overall jazz groove as heard in the drums and bass.
- The use of chromaticism in the melody.
Now that you have a couple of easy blues piano songs to work with, is it enough for you to go to the next level?
Why You Are Still Struggling (And What To Do About It?)
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I hope that you enjoyed this piece on five easy blues piano songs to learn.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for new lessons, please leave a comment below.