3 Blues Piano Riffs That Anyone Can Play

Jordan Leibel  /  Styles  /  UPDATED Jan 13, 2023

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Learning riffs on the piano is an awesome way to sound amazing quickly. In this lesson, I’ll teach you three simple blues riffs that pack a lot of punch! Not only are these really fun to play, but they will also help you to understand the blues scale on a deeper level.

Riff #1

The first riff is really common in TV and Film. In fact, the sitcom 30 rock uses it as their opening theme! It uses the coolest elements of the blues scale to great effect.

Here is how it’s done: Play A -C-D-Eb-E. We bop that E note a couple times at the top and then crawl back down the same way we went up. Play this in any key using the blues formula. Use a minor third, whole tone, semitone, semitone and then back down and you’ve got it!

Riff #2

This riff uses the same notes but in a different order. Begin on D and move to Eb back to D-C-D-C-A.  All we’ve done here is utilize the elements of the blues scale. Same notes, different order, whole new sound! Try this in a variety of keys! For example, Starting on G you’d have G-Ab-G-F-G-F-D.

Riff #3

This riff packs a funky feel and uses some harmony notes for an extra kick. My first notes are A on the bottom with my thumb, and then E-G played together on top. For a bluesy effect, I’m taking my third finger and brushing it over the Eb onto the E to slur the notes. Then back to A and this time I will play D and F# as my top notes – then back to A on the bottom and C and E become my top notes. 

Afterward, I play A once again to reset my pattern and bump my top notes up back to D and F#, finishing with one more anchoring of A in the bottom and a C-E on top. It sounds super sweet and isn’t hard to do at all!

There you have it! 3 great blues riffs that anyone can play!

Jordan Leibel is passionate about songwriting, improvisation, and helping you become a creative musician! He’s worked as a composer for film, commercial, and theatre projects as well as a session musician and producer for recording work.

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