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How To Play Boogie Woogie

Lisa Witt  /  Technique / Oct 18

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Are you ready to boogie?!

You’re about the learn the DEFINITIVE Boogie Woogie bassline. It’s literally the first bassline you see when you search Wikipedia for “Boogie Woogie”.

Don’t believe me? Go look, I’ll wait 🙂

You see? So you are going to learn something awesome today, but I will warn you — this is not the easiest bassline to play. It will take some practice, especially when you start changing chords. But it is SO MUCH FUN and if you play this for someone, guaranteed they’ll smile 🙂

And you’ll be working on your left-hand strength and dexterity!

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The Pattern

The great thing about this bassline is that it follows the same pattern, no matter what chord you’re playing it over.

We’ll be in the key of C today, and we’ll use the C, F and G chords.

Starting on C, you play an octave above to a higher C. Then you start on the 3rd (E) and walk-up by half-steps until you reach the 5th (G). Once you do, you simply play a G octave below.

And that repeats over and over again.

Hard Part = Changing Chords

This is where it gets a little tricky. This bassline is fast and jumps around a lot. It can take a bit to master, but the real challenge comes when it’s time to change chords.

From the C we’ll move to an F. The pattern is identical, but everything is now in relation to the F chord.

So we’ll start with the F octave, and then find the 3rd (this time it’s A) and walk-up by half-steps until you reach the 5th (now a C) and then play that C octave.

After F, we’ll move to G. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out the notes. Remember, the pattern NEVER changes.

Don’t forget to boogie!

This is the Boogie Woogie, so don’t forget to play it with some style and bounce!

This is not the bassline to play with a straight rhythm. You want to swing, and really ‘feel’ the bassline.

So get to the keys and start to boogie!


Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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