Definition of twelve-bar in US English:



  • Denoting or relating to a musical structure based on a sequence lasting twelve bars and typically consisting of three chords, the basic unit of much blues and rock and roll music.

    • ‘Well, it's not exactly easy to keep coming up with novel variations on a form of music whose standard twelve-bar chord change pattern goes I-I-I-I IV-IV-I-I-V-IV-I-I, is it?’
    • ‘Despite the blues influences, he avoids traditional twelve-bar blues progressions.’
    • ‘The twelve-bar format is cleverly sculpted with ensembles preluding the solos.’
    • ‘Students listen to musical examples and try to write twelve-bar blues lyrics.’
    • ‘For example, in 13% of the songs we analyzed, the twelve-bar blues form is adopted, and with it one often finds the typical lyrical organization of three-line stanzas in which the first two lines are similar.’


  • A song or piece of music having a twelve-bar structure.

    • ‘If you're going to limit it to twelve-bars and variations thereof you'll have to either arbitrarily exclude a lot that's recognizably blues, or else arbitrarily expand your definition.’