Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > How would you tackle this tune?
How would you tackle this tune?
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741 posts
Dec 03, 2018
5:17 PM
I've become a big fan of trumpeter Avishai Cohen, and of this song in particular. Working on it for a while now, even took a first crack at it at last week's jam.

So I'm curious how others would approach this, in terms of key, position, getting that trumpet sound, etc. And how would you tell the band (who doesn't know it) what to do for backing?

Any ideas?


Last Edited by garry on Dec 03, 2018 5:18 PM
The Iceman
3724 posts
Dec 03, 2018
6:56 PM
Only listened to the first 50 seconds of the song and am focusing on the lead line...(that's what I'd start with)...

So, all playable in 3rd position, but you have to play your notes created through bending technique to good pitch and as stand alone notes, being especially fearless with your sustained three hole inhale second bend. Other notes you need is an at pitch 4 hole inhale bend as well as that 2 hole inhale second bend and the lesser used 2 hole inhale first bend.

One reason the lead line is so interesting is that it ignores the 6th scale degree (both major and minor) completely.

The other point of interest is getting the ear used to that minor 3rd sound, but at the tail end of one of the melodic lines, a major third is used for just a second, to destroy that "minor" orientation in your ear created up to that point.
The Iceman

Last Edited by The Iceman on Dec 03, 2018 6:58 PM
The Iceman
3725 posts
Dec 04, 2018
6:10 AM
Usually alternate tunings are not my first line of approach, but in this case, if you are not "fearless" with your 3 hole inhale second bend sustained, why not tune that 3 hole inhale reed down a whole step? Since there is no need for the 6th scale degree in the melody, this will produce that important note as a "given".
The Iceman
1644 posts
Dec 04, 2018
7:57 AM
I second Iceman's approach on position and the importance of technique. The trumpet players tone is really good so perfect intonation is essential.
There's a medium delay and a lot of reverb. Gear wise I get pretty close to this sound with 2 delays on my board, a LW and a a MXR carbon. PA, no amp, no "crunch/distortion".

Last Edited by Littoral on Dec 04, 2018 7:58 AM
The Iceman
3726 posts
Dec 04, 2018
8:24 AM
While I understand some folk's interest in sounding like the trumpet in the song they are learning or want to perform, why not just use the song and inject your own harmonica sound instead?

Too often harmonica sounds, to me, a bit off when it is trying to be (for example) a trumpet.

Have never run into a trumpet player wanting to play "Juke" and make his trumpet sound like a harmonica...

Be proud of our sound of a vibrating reed!

(I'll dig a bit deeper into this song and the original poster's questions when I have more time....)
The Iceman
1645 posts
Dec 04, 2018
8:52 AM
The OP did ask about approaches to the tune and getting the trumpet sound.

"... why not just use the song and inject your own harmonica sound instead?"

Certainly, as well, but not instead. MBH...

I've come a whole long ways since then but here's an attempt of mine 20 years ago. Harp, mic, amp -no pedals.

Last Edited by Littoral on Dec 04, 2018 8:53 AM
2274 posts
Dec 04, 2018
9:15 AM
I think you will need to work up an arrangement for your band. I don't think this would work off the cuff.

You might get some ideas listening to the original on Massive Attack's breakthrough album "Mezzanine".

And here's a piano cover which might give you some band arrangement ideas:


Last Edited by timeistight on Dec 05, 2018 7:56 AM
The Iceman
3727 posts
Dec 04, 2018
10:12 AM
Getting more interested in this tune, so found time to analyze the "chart" of the first 30 seconds or so (in between my production of Tomato Bisque Soup, Roasting Chicken for salads and preparing cookie dough for baking tomorrow - kinda like a cigarette break w/out the nicotine and inhaling).

Choose a key that works best for a harmonica in 3rd position...

Bass line defines the chord structure/movement. At the opening there are a few bars of static - no movement - setting up the mood. This would be the Tonic chord of the tune in whatever key you choose.

Bass plays that note sparsely - injecting a lot of silence between the note played.

The bass movement is basically I, VII, IV, I. (Let's use key of "D" - that would be D, C, G, D).

The rhythm section is playing very openly - using the notes D, A and G. Pattern is D,A,D,G,D,G,A - this is what you can hear from that guitar playing single notes.

Playing this repetitive idea over the moving bass line works to create a floating feel. Avoiding the 3rd scale degree helps it exist beyond consideration of strictly major or minor, It is up to that melodic line to decide at what point the ear hears major or minor on top of this rhythm section.

If you have a keyboard, let your right hand play D,G,A as a chord (have a bit o' fun and try second and third inversion of this chord as well) while left hand plays octave D, octave C, octave G and back to octave D.

This is where you start to conceive your arrangement for your band.

If you have a guitar, bass and keyboard player, the keys can play that chord cluster as a "pad" sound quietly while the guitar picks those notes, all floating above that moving bass line.

Oops, timer went off. Gotta get back to gourmet food creation....will continue the rest of the tune later, but this is a good start.
The Iceman
742 posts
Dec 04, 2018
6:51 PM
Wow. Thank you all for such great insights. Lots to think about and work on. I've been using a C harp to play along with this thus far, with mixed success.

Your point about playing like trumpet vs harp is well taken. When I learn something new I generally try and play it as heard first, then inject my own sound. I don't necessarily need to sound like trumpet, but I like the sound here, and am trying to improve my own playing with elements from it. I tend to play overly legato, but am working on more bite with a sharper attack and cutoff of notes, things I associate with trumpet.

The band is the house band at the jam I attend, and they'll indulge me introducing new songs I want to play, so definitely thinking arrangement. We tried it last week, but I didn't know how to describe what I wanted. This will help.

Thanks again. Other readers please feel free to weigh in as well.

The Iceman
3729 posts
Dec 05, 2018
5:03 AM
After that opening 30 second section, the chords are Bb, C, to D in the short resolution section.

I didn't know it was a jam situation...thought you were going to work on an arrangement for your band....However, it can still work with that jam band depending on their level of competency - especially if you can get there early and spend a few moments with them running over each section.

The Iceman
743 posts
Dec 05, 2018
4:58 PM
Yes, they've been very accommodating. Thus far, I've gotten them to do Listen Here, Akos, Work Song, Comin' Home Baby, Sco Mule, Come As You Are, and even Birdland. That last took us a few months (with one attempt per week) to get down.

I'm pretty lucky. Best jam situation I've been in.

10010 posts
Dec 05, 2018
5:53 PM
Ice, could you please stop posting about delicious foods if you don't have enough for everyone (and a way to magically teleport them to my house).

Man, now I'm hungry again. :)

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The Iceman
3730 posts
Dec 06, 2018
4:34 AM
Nate - "if you don't have enough for everyone (and a way to magically teleport them to my house)."

I do and I can....

not teleport, but USPS.

I've got an online website...you can point, click and order...let me know if you'd like that link....(clue - name of the business is Olive Affairs).
The Iceman

Last Edited by The Iceman on Dec 06, 2018 7:34 AM
758 posts
Mar 20, 2019
7:25 PM
I don't often post videos here, as I don't feel my playing is up to par with all the talent on this forum. But since y'all were so helpful when I was figuring this out, I feel obliged, so here is how it came out. I'm playing with the house band at my local jam, who learned this song at my request. Good dudes.

Thanks again to all who weighed in. Especially Iceman, who went above and beyond. Constructive criticism is always welcome.


Last Edited by garry on Mar 20, 2019 7:52 PM
The Iceman
3794 posts
Mar 21, 2019
7:52 AM
Not a bad start. The guitar player is clearly "seduced" into playing that major 3rd over the I chord at times when he should just keep to the simple pattern avoiding it...he is not consistent, but it's not your band, so take the bad with the good, and it's mostly good from the rhythm section.
The Iceman
35 posts
Mar 22, 2019
3:31 AM
I dont have any technical advise or such but all I can say is I thought your playing sounded good. I liked the sound and song.

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