Duke Robillard

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How Long Blues


Duke Robillard Lesson >

How Long Blues > Chords

This months lesson is the classic 8 bar blues, "How Long" My first lesson is learning the basic song with simplest changes for guitar in A. Basically in a simple finger picking style.  We concentrate on the quarter note bass string root thump while stating the melody on the top strings. Then we work on a second verse going up to second position on the top 4 string using 7ths and my favorite 9th inversion. Then in the second lesson we go to a more Kansas City version with swing 4 to the bar a la Freddie Green. in this lesson we add more chords to make the changes more interesting to play over while still keeping within what works with the traditional melody. In our next we will delve into soloing on the form and trying different approaches to soloing over the changes.

Enjoy, Duke Robillard 


Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:

Print Print Chords & Tab

Note:  Duke is going to base Lessons 2-5 on the Bb (Kansas City style) of How Long Blues.

Loop 1:45 Breakdown of Acoustic Blues Version

Loop 6:39 Run-Through of Acoustic Blues Version


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 7:08 Breakdown of Kansas City Style How Long Blues

Loop 14:22 Bb Kansas City Style Run-Through (Sheet Music Page 3)





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jon lovink
jon lovink Mar 01, 2021

Hey Duke: I'm totally enjoying and learning so much from. Your teaching style is great. Pefect for a guy who has been playing many years but never this style which I love so much. Thanks for sharing your depth of knowlege and beautuful musicianship. Means a lot.


Stephen Ferrari
Stephen Ferrari Apr 12, 2018

Hey, Duke,

Saw you and the band last night at Iridium. Great show.

Thanks for the inspiration, Steve

Duke Robillard
Duke Robillard Apr 12, 2015

Thank you Kotzias!

kotzias Apr 10, 2015

thank you very good.


Duke Robillard
Duke Robillard Nov 23, 2014

Thanks Steve, I agree that 9th voicing is a great sound, especially in acoustic blues. Duke

Steve Satterwhite
Steve Satterwhite Nov 23, 2014

That little A7 chord with the 9 on top is pretty dang cool.


Jeff Caldwell
Jeff Caldwell Sep 18, 2014

Thanks, Mike, I'm pretty sure it's the Bb triad at 8:55; I thought maybe Duke was fretting a bass note, too, but now I don't think so.

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Sep 18, 2014

Hi Jeff --- yes, I agree that it sounds like a Bb triad at 8:55.  

Another thing I've noticed about Duke is that he will sometimes intuitively voice certain strings louder than others.  Meaning, he may play a three note chord --- but two of the notes will be more pronounced.  Duke's right hand technique and touch is really amazing and in my opinion an important part of his playing --- i.e. it's not just the chord, but how that chord is played.  I see similar things in Corey's playing as well.

Duke Robillard
Duke Robillard Sep 17, 2014

Jeff, I will check that out and getbright back to you. Duke 

Jeff Caldwell
Jeff Caldwell Sep 17, 2014

Duke--In the turnaround for the 4-4 rhythm style progression, there's a beat of something right after the Eb mi chord and before the F#7-F7 move, and it sounds like maybe the F and Bb notes from the Bb triad at the 3rd fret, but I'm not sure--can you clarify?  Is there a bass note, too?

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Sep 18, 2014

Hi Jeff --- I can help too (I help with the tab / chords for Duke's lessons).  

To make sure we give you the right answer --- can you let me know the video timecode?  --- thanks.

Steven Jul 26, 2014

video is 'how long..'   however, the tabs etc are for kanas city? 'm confused.

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Aug 04, 2014

Hi Steve --- the chord chart is for the Kansas City style of How Long Blues.  The key word here is "style."  What you find in jazz and blues is that you can play the same song many different ways.  

Hope that helps and enjoy Duke!

Steve Lauder
Steve Lauder Apr 27, 2014

Hi This is my first attempt in using a webcam - frustrating. The C7 in the chart is different from what i use in that it has no root but rather uses the G. I found my self using the traditional c7. THe Eb7 seems the same as the 7th cord in a Bb major scale ie Bb7min something or other, adding the f note on the b string with the pinky.

I find this form a nice challenge for me and i am looking forward to continuing beyong the trial period. I hope the broad band cost isn't huge as we have a different billing system here in Canada when it comes to broadband.





Duke Robillard
Duke Robillard Apr 30, 2014

Hi Steve, Really good rhythm there. You have a good feel and I enjoyed your tone. Dont worry about the C7. It's a preference thing as to if you want to play the root or the 5 on the bottom. My general tendency is to play the 5 and leave the root area open for the bass player. Good to hear you and I hope you stay on board! Thanks, Duke

Steve Lauder
Steve Lauder Apr 27, 2014


Steve H
Steve H Oct 20, 2013

I'm pretty sure I had to learn on the band stand with Pinetop on this one. Seems like the band leader gave me a quickie run thru. Got to keep your ears open.

Always a thrill getting to play with Pinetop...

Thanks Duke

Duke Robillard
Duke Robillard Apr 30, 2014

Hi Steve, Very good man.Pinetop may have played it a little different but close. It got to play quite a lot when he was younger in the 70s and 80s. Any you got got it. Sounds good! Duke 

daddyray (robbie)
daddyray (robbie) May 16, 2012

thanks Mike..that is nice. I still think having the rhythm of the changes written out would be still better but this is very helpful

Mike Caren
Mike Caren May 15, 2012

Hi DaddyRay .. Great feedback, thank you!

I've updated the lesson with chord labels and a loop point to play the progression through as many times as you like.  Let me know how it works for you.


Duke Robillard
Duke Robillard Apr 20, 2012

We will consider your suggestion seriously Daddyray!

daddyray (robbie)
daddyray (robbie) Apr 20, 2012

For my use, I would love for the chords on the page here to be labeled and I would like to see any set of chords played through twice so one might get a chance to chug along before something new is introduced. I am not used to all these shapes. I can grab them but it is hard to be catching new to me chords and follow the sequences when they disappear so quickly. For the 1 chord on these I usaully play a root of the sixth string and I do not voice the b string so that is a pretty big switch in my grips. I am enjoying this very much and am merely offering my little old opinion to make it easier.  

Duke Robillard
Duke Robillard Dec 31, 2011

Hey Mike, These swing and riff tunes are a major part of the stuff I love. I will review some tunes in this style to teach. I have an original tunes on my next jazz album in this style and prehaps that would be on to teach also.

Duke Robillard
Duke Robillard Dec 31, 2011

Hello Forrest, Now you've opened a big can of worms! Tiny Grimes is one of my favorite guitarists and a big influence on me. I have played his tunes and licks for decades. I think doing a tune on his style would be a good up coming project. I will put that one on my list for sure. Yes, rhythm changes are fun and I suggest checking out some of my other swing lessons on sonic-junction like "Lester Leaps In" which is exactly a rhythm progression. It may help you on that style.

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Dec 31, 2011

That's awesome.   I really like the groove of that one.  I'm embedding the video below so people can see it (if you click on the red play button and insert the YouTube link it will embed the video).  I would personally love to learn some of these progressions and how to solo over them.  Great vocals too.  It's just pure joy.

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