You’re probably already very familiar with a traditional 12-bar Blues if you’re reading this.

If not, check out a 12-bar Blues format before looking at the Bird Blues.

This will give you a little better insight into the structure and understanding of the chord substitution.

This progression is named after the great legendary Jazz alto player, Charlie arker.

He lived in the Bebop era and always created chord substitutions in his work.

A perfect example of this chord progression is his song, “Blues For Alice”.

Here is the chord progression:

Fmaj7 / / / | Em7b5 / A7 / | Dm7 / G7 / | Cm7 / F7 / |

Bb7 / / / | Bbm7 / Eb7 / | Am7 / D7 / | Abm7 / Db7 / |

Gm7 / / / | C7 / / / | Fmaj7 / Dm7 / | Gm7 / C7 / |

So, what exactly is going here? I’m going to break this progression down to 5 parts with regards to the substitution concepts and key centers.

This will help you understand and memorize the sequence so it doesn’t just appear to be a bunch of chords with no rhymt or reason!

1 – Fmajor7: This is the “1” chord. You’re in the key of “F” here.

2 – Em7b5 / A7 / | Dm7 / G7 / | Cm7 / F7 / |:

This is simply a descending 2-5 sequence in whole steps. The 1st measure you’re in the key of D minor.

The 2nd measure is the key of “C”. The 3rd measure is the key of “Bb”.

3 – Bb7: This is where the traditional “4” chord is in a 12-bar Blues.

4 – Bbm7 / Eb7 / | Am7 / D7 / | Abm7 / Db7 / | Gm7///|C7 / / / |

This is a chromatic descending 2-5 sequence – VERY SIMPLE. The 1st measure is in the key of “Ab”. The 2nd measure is in the key of “G”.

The 3rd measure is in the key of “Gb” and the 4th measure is in the key of “F”.

5 – Fmaj7 / Dm7 / | Gm7 / C7 / |: This is a “1-6-2-5” in “F”.

Here are the tabs for the chords:

   Fmaj7     Em7b5     A7      Dm7    G7    Cm7    F7     Bb7
E |------------------------------------------------------------|
B |-5----------8--------5-------6-----3-------4-----1-------6--|
G |-5----------7--------6-------5-----4-------3-----2-------7--|
D |-7----------8--------5-------7-----3-------5-----1-------6--|
A |-8----------7----------------5-------------3----------------|
E |---------------------5-------------3-------------1-------6--|
  Bbm7     Eb7     Am7     D7    Abm7      Db7   Gm7      C7
E |----------------------------------------------------------|
B |6--------4-------5-------3------4--------2-----3--------1-|
G |6--------6-------5-------5------4--------4-----3--------3-|
D |6--------5-------5-------4------4--------3-----3--------2-|
A |---------6---------------5---------------4--------------3-|
E |6----------------5--------------4--------------3----------|
    Fmaj7      Dm7     Gm7      C7
E |----------------------------------|
B |---1---------6-------3--------1---|
G |---2---------5-------3--------3---|
D |---2---------7-------3--------2---|
A |-------------5----------------3---|
E |---1-----------------3------------|

At first glance, this Bird Blues looks confusing however by analyzing the breakdown it makes a lot more sense!

Now, let’s move onto some strategies that will help you solo over this progression.

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