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  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

Blues Plus (3):

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

The Walkdown, the Walkup & Stormy Monday

In the first blog of this series, I covered the basic 12-bar Blues form and some common variations thereof. I explained the Roman numerals and also how guitar players tend to be guitar-centric in their comfort level as far as keys are concerned.

In the second blog of this series, I covered the I - VI - II - V Turnaround and the Tritone Dominant Substitution.

In this blog I'll go over the Walkdown, the Walkup and how that relates to Stormy Monday.

The Walkdown

This group of options occurs in bars 7 and 8. These options usually occur when bars 9 and 10 consist of II - V instead of V - IV. The Walkdown consists of I - VIIx - bVIIx - VIx:

Having said that, occasionally the V to IV in bars 9 and 10 is maintained:

There's another common move that occurs on bars 7 and 8:

The Walkup

The Walkup consists of I - II - III - VIx. VI may also be Minor:

Stormy Monday Changes

Ok, so why am I spending time on a tired old Slow Blues tune that gets overplayed at jams everywhere? Because of its historical significance.

Many players of my generation were introduced to the Walkup by the Allman Brothers' version of Stormy Monday on the 1971 album "Live at the Fillmore East." Stormy Monday is an old Blues tune written by T-Bone Walker and released in 1947. The original title was, "Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just as Bad)."

I'm not going to get into an analysis of all the details, but the original recording was basically a 12-bar Blues of the I - IV - V variety, per Lesson 1 in this series.

In 1961 Bobby "Blue" Bland recorded a version that had the Walkup in it. Instead of a VI chord at the end of bar 8, he used a flat-III minor 7 chord. The Turnaround was I - IV - I - V (the Turnaround I showed you in the first blog of this series).

It was Bobby Bland's' version from which the Allman Brothers based their version in 1971.

Below is a handwritten chart I sketched out for a student for "Stormy Monday." It's in the key of G (the key of the Allman Brothers version). I have added the Roman numerals per the other charts I've created for this lesson:

Notice the bIIIx (Bb7) at the end of bar 8. That's the Tritone Sub of VIx which is the usual chord there. The Allman Brothers changed the flat-III chord type to Dominant from Bobby Bland's Minor.

The chromatic additions (bar 3 and bars 9 & 10) are from T-Bone's original version. He did that quite a bit in other places in the tune and it became his signature sound. Those chromatic grace-chords got written into the horn arrangement and so were accentuated. Because of the Allman Brothers use of the technique in their version, it's now the definitive way to play it.

Ready for More?

Here's an example of a 12-Bar Blues using Tritone Substitutions and Chromatics (all in parentheses) to create more movement/interest. The chart is written in terms of 7th chords, but in the video I'm using 13 chords for 6th-string roots and 9th chords for 5th-string roots (see Quick & Dirty Altered Dominants).

This is the general practice among Jazz and Blues musicians; the chart is written using 7th chords but extensions and alterations are up to the player's discretion. I'll use a Walkup in bars 7 & 8 and work off the I - VI - II - V Turnaround:

Whew! Still with me so far? I hope so because there's MORE! The next (and final) blog will deal with what's known as the Bop Blues or Bird Changes.


Want more stuff on the Blues? There are 10 free Blues lessons on the FREE LESSONS page of the website. Plus there are 22 free lessons called Soloing in a Blues Context on the same page.

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