To me, the blues turnaround is one of the most exciting parts of a blues progression. The bars leading up to the turnaround all seem to play second fiddle to these all important final bars.
What is a turnaround?
The turnaround is a section of music that serves to setup the next section. Usually the second section is simply a repetition of the first. In a typical 12 bar blues progression, the last four bars function as the turnaround. These bars provide a nice transition back to bar 1.
The last four bars
Bar 9 is where we finally get to hear the all-important V chord followed by the IV chord in bar 10.
The last two bars are typically reserved for the I and V chord, respectively. But, to my taste, these two bars offer up enormous opportunity to get creative.
The Classic Blues Turnaround
This turnaround is a rendition of what is likely to be the most used turnaround of all time. It can be heard by countless guitarists and there are probably as many different versions of this turnaround as there are guitarists. However, the structure remains.
From the triplet feel in the beginning of the lick to the strong entrance of the V chord late in the game, the overall architecture of this classic is a must know for any blues guitarist.
You may hear this turnaround and ask, “Is it overdone?”
No doubt this lick has been done. Still you should learn the classic licks, the cliche licks and you should know them cold. They become a springboard to developing licks of your own. So, play the cliches, but over time, put your own twist on them. Use some variety and creativity in these last few bars.
Any bar of music that you play should be exciting and creative.