In music, the V-IV-I turnaround, or blues turnaround is one of several cadential patterns traditionally found in the twelve-bar blues, and commonly found in rock and roll.
Most turnarounds can also be used as intros or endings. This is because the turnaround in bars 11 and 12 takes us back (turns around) to the start of the next 12 bars of music or pulls us toward the I chord for a big finish. The intro does the same thing by kick starting the song to begin at the first cycle of 12 bars.
There are probably as many variations for the turnaround as there are blues progressions, ranging from the very simple to complicated jazz blues lines. No matter how simple or complicated a progression is, there are some basic structural guidelines that should always be applied to a turnaround.
In order to understand how a turnaround works you must be familiar with the 12 bar blues chord progression.
If you break down the blues turnaround into it’s most basic form you’ll left with this generic version.
The blues turnaround may only lasts 2 bars, but a lot is happening. In this chapter we’ll explore it’s structure and see what exactly is happening.
There are ways to add “spice” to any blues turnaround as you’ll discover in this chapter.
An ascending turnaround has a shifting melody that travels to higher notes.
A descending turnaround has a shifting melody that travels to lower notes.
The expanding turnaround has a moving melody line that moves away from a static note.
These turnarounds are similar to the “generic” turnarounds we learned in chapter 2 in the fact that the notes in the shifting melody grow closer to each other or contracts. The moving melody either rises up or falls down closer to the static note used in the counterpoint.
In this turnaround when one of the lines move up, the other line moves down.
Some songs will have a turnaround, but not use the standard V-IV-I progression. Chapter 10 explores what to do when faced with a non-standard progression.
We are not restricted to only using a shifting melody as part of a turnaround at the end of a progression. This type of phrase can also be used to change between chords anywhere in the chord progression.
A good turnaround is an ideal way to begin or end a song. This chapter tells you how.
Real World Examples
Here’s some popular songs that have blues turnarounds. They’re easy to find. Each song follows the 12 bar blues progression, so the blues turnarounds fall in bars 11 and 12.
“Hey Hey” by Eric Clapton
“Bad Feeling Blues” by Blind Blake