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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Things are clicking!
Things are clicking!
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outdoor joe
74 posts
Jul 02, 2018
3:39 PM
I am working my way through Adam's Raw Beginners Special for $35 on this website and I made it to Counting and Playing the 12-bar blues.

O.M.G I just played along with a SONG!!


I played the 2d in a few different ways on the G, the 4b on the C and the 4d on the D parts and HOLY COW!

Things. Are. Happening!

Giant breakthroughs like this after learning trivial things like Oh Susana and Twinkle Twinkle are SO darn cool!!!!

I got like 12 jam tracks to play along with in the package and am going to buy the Advanced Beginner Special this week to get some more jam tracks!
5460 posts
Jul 03, 2018
2:52 AM
That’s cool man.
Those Gussow lessons are good because he emphasises ‘time’ and shows you how to practice the phrases...I mean he even teaches you to think in phrases and so that helps when get around to breaking things apart for yourself.
All this stuff is important and it stays with you.
Those melodies are good too. They really help your ear and get you moving on the harp and help you build melodic connections. It’s all brain food.
Personally I like Adam's lessons and I did the whole beginner series and I think I did all the intermediate series as well. They are good value.
Great that you are getting that sense of progress. Sometimes you might feel you’re not making progress. Don’t worry if (when) that happens. If you keep working on it you will keep getting better. There’s no end to it until you stop breathing
outdoor joe
75 posts
Jul 03, 2018
5:11 PM
@B The sense of non-progress is what caused me to stop practicing last time I gave this a Go. Now, I bought the lessons and am progressing far further than last time, and plan to buy the Advanced Beginner Special later on this week to keep the progression going!

I still am at a loss on how these notes are chosen to be played and which notes make which sound, but I think I am going to buy that "Harmonica For Dummies' book to fill in some blanks between the videos.

My goal is to be able to 'jam' and so far dreams are coming true!!
5462 posts
Jul 03, 2018
7:13 PM
A little bit of theory would probably help you understand the note choices.
There are different ways to look at it.
In one sense there are no ‘wrong’ notes. You have to be a pretty good player before you can afford to take that approach and expect listeners to agree. I think it’s good to be aware of that but for practical purposes it’s not that helpful for a beginner.
I think I recall that you are not particularly a blues lover but more of a folk/country/rock fan
Nonetheless if you want to jam and understand more about note choice, an example based on blues changes is probably as useful as anything else as a place to start.

You’ll be familiar with the changes from Adam’s 12 bar blues lessons.

Assuming a song is in the key of G, and you have a C harp,
One way to approach playing along is to select your notes from a particular scale.
There is more than one way to approach this, which is why it continues to be interesting, but it’s not usually helpful to try and cop everything thing at once, and you have to start somewhere so jamming on a 12 bar using a scale to guide you is a good way to start.

There are 3 chords in this basic 12 bar pattern in G:

Maybe the last measure will be more like D, especially at the end. Don’t worry about that yet

We say this is ‘in’ G even though there are 2 other chords, because the decision to play in G is what determines what the other chords will be.

The notes in the scale of G major are these:
G A B C D E Fsharp G

All of those notes except the F# are on the C harmonica (there is no F# on a C harp, except through specific bending).

Any of those notes on the C harp will sound ok against the G chord, although some will harmonise more strongly than others.

There are 2 other chords in the 12 bar though, C and D. There are a couple of notes on the C harp which might clash against those chords but there is a way of playing which will allow you to play a selection of notes which will sound ok against all 3 chords.
So a tried and true approach is to can start out by learning that scale. There is actually more than one but one thing at a time.

I think the ‘major pentatonic’ scale would be a good place to start for you. I think you’d find a lot of songs you like where you could play using this scale.

Here it is. For blow notes I’ll use a + sign in front. For draw I’ll just type the number. For the bend I’ll use a quotation mark for a whole step bend.

1 +2 2 3” 3 4 +5 +6 6 7 8 +8 +9 10

That is the basic scale

You can play a short version and I recommend you do this:

2 3” 3 4 +5 +6

Play it in both directions.

Also try playing it in patterns. Maybe like 2 3” 3 3” 3 4 3 4 +5 4 +5 +6
The specific pattern doesn’t matter all that much, you can just make up your own. The idea is to get familiar with moving around with those notes and getting the sound of it in your ear.

It’s good to play that section because it’s an octave beginning in 2 draw (note G on your C harp) and ending on 6 blow (also note G but an octave higher).
You can also start on 6 blow and go to 9 blow, which is also an octave.

Don’t forget about the 2 blow and 1 draw..they are the equivalent of 5 blow and 4 draw so you can involve these in you patterns as well.

You can work with this scale for a while and I think it will serve you very well. The late Gary Primich recommended this as a starting point and the longer I play the more I see the wisdom in it.

Of course you can play it on any harp and it will work, just a different key.

That’s probably enough for now. I’ll try and think of some songs you can use it with. One which leaps to mind is ‘will the circle be unbroken’. Another is ‘isn’t it a pity’ but I’m not sure of the key any particular recordings may use and that will determine which key harp you need to jam along with a record

Last Edited by SuperBee on Jul 03, 2018 9:23 PM
outdoor joe
77 posts
Jul 10, 2018
9:53 AM
@Bee, wow.. Thank you so much for that, I really mean it. Finding out about all this musical knowledge is all happening so fast and I love it. I ordered Mr. Yerxa's book and it should be here this week. I also ordered the next installment of lessons from Mr. Gussow - Advanced Beginner's special - it has 6 songs in it with video and tabs. I played Rock Around the Clock! Very cool to see the progress.

AND, I am recording most of my training, so it is really cool to go back and see how things are moving along, even if you don't think it is.

Last Edited by outdoor joe on Jul 10, 2018 11:01 AM
125 posts
Jul 15, 2018
3:40 PM
Sounds like you're catching the harp fever, hehe. Glad that you are making progress, it's one of the greatest things about learning something (new)! Bee is right, remember this feeling for the times when you hit barriers and it will carry you through.
Recording yourself is a great idea - as you said: You may not realise that things are moving along when they really are - check out your recordings 6 months or even a year later and the progress that you made will be apparent!
outdoor joe
84 posts
Jul 18, 2018
6:04 PM
Cheers SkullKid!

Now I gotta get back to trying to get these bends down and working my way around these things called Scales I just read aboot.


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