Playing the Blues Playground

To play along using a percussion instrument, move the CPX slide switch to the right and turn on the power switch. Select the instrument you'll be playing by pressing the A pushbutton until you hear the sound you want. Press the B pushbutton to select that sound and start playing!

To play the blues chords, move the CPX slide switch to the left and turn on the power switch (or press the Reset button if power is already on). The NeoPixels will all turn a light blue indicating that the chords are ready to play. Tap the Blues Playground to play a chord along with the beat. Playing slow or fast is your choice. Slow blues can be very expressive; fast blues are more light-hearted. What's your mood?

The 12-Bar Blues in the Key of A

The blues is a very expressive form of music that also contributes to many other genres such as Jazz, Rock 'n Roll, and Country. The format and sequence for blues chords aren't completely fixed, but they usually form familiar patterns. The chord pattern, or "chord changes" as they're sometimes called, are the musical foundation for blues and jazz improvisation and can lead to the creation of your own song -- just add lyrics to tell your story.

The Blues Playground's code contains a pattern for the 12-bar blues in the key of A. That's a popular sequence that only involves just 3 different chords played 16 times. In this case, we're using the chords of A, D, and E. Here's the sequence grouped into twelve 4-beat measures:

When playing the blues, the chord pattern is repeated throughout the song. Play it as long as you'd like 'cause the Blues Playground repeats the sequence for as long as you tap with the beat.

Jammin' with Friends

The chords around the key of A were selected for the Blues Playground because many guitar players prefer to play in the key of A and it fits the vocal range of most singers. Also, this key works well for a diatonic harmonica especially when played in the cross-harp mode. Cross-harp is when blues harmonica players use a harp tuned to the key of D when guitar players are jamming in the key of A. The harp player will start around hole #4 and draw air more than blowing to find the blues melody notes.

(Note: The author is a harmonica player and loves to play jazz and blues, so it's expected that he would mention the harp somewhere in this guide. He couldn't resist.)

This guide was first published on Jun 28, 2018. It was last updated on Jun 28, 2018.
This page (Jammin') was last updated on Mar 01, 2020.