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My attempt at playing Gary's Blues
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131 posts
Oct 28, 2018
5:16 AM
Hey guys,
it's been about two years since I started playing and about a year since I stumbled across tongue blocking. I think it's time to share some of what I have learned again. In this video, I'm playing a pretty cool song from David Barrett's site bluesharmonica.com called Gary's Blues.

I would appreciate any kind of feedback (timing, tone, technique, did you like it, etc.). I've been practising the song for about two weeks now and I think overall it sounds quite good - though the relatively fast tempo still kicks my ass on some parts.

Things that I should strive to improve are in my opinion: a) dynamics of tone, b) the tongue flutter, which I've learned only recently, c) double stops and tremolo on double stops, d) maybe my tongue slaps? They sound a bit harsh (too much air?), but I'm not sure if that's a bad thing.

Anyway, here's the video (sorry for the bad quality, I've filmed it with a 20€ camera, lol)

Looking forward to any kind of comment,

Last Edited by SkullKid on Oct 28, 2018 5:21 AM
5627 posts
Oct 29, 2018
3:38 AM
I’ve played this one a lot, but not for some time.

Generally a strong performance with a couple of fairly minor flaws which will come out as you continue to play.

Did you submit it to David for critique?

The pulls in this piece are a bit exaggerated but it’s for learning and that rhythmic lift/slap articulation is teaching you something fairly important that I think people struggle with about tongue blocking, which is that it’s fluid and becomes almost automatic.

Even though it’s well over 5 years since I learned the song, probably more like 7 years, I still recall a couple of episodes from when I was learning it. One time I rode a bicycle down to a quiet area on the waterfront and sat on a park bench near a boat ramp and worked on the 2nd chorus, getting the rhythm and flutters down. David told me to lighten up with my touch
on the flutters. It was important advice. Yours sound good.

Here’s my thoughts as I listened. The criticism is very minor. Hardly worth mentioning.

Ch1:i think quite good. You held on to the bend at the conclusion of measures 4 and 8 a little longer than i expected. i remember that as a scoop but its a miniscule point and not even a criticism really.
Ch2: flutters seemed really good but perhaps threw your timing out slightly when you moved from the flutter to the next lick.
Ch3: This is a potentially challenging chorus with timing and i felt you didn't quite nail it, although very close. i think the shake (? my memory!) just before the turnaround was held a fraction too long, forcing a rush into the turnaround lick or perhaps just slightly stumbling into it. pretty good recovery though
Ch4:sounded good to me. that tongue switch and turnaround i recall took me a while to get down at full speed and you managed it well
Ch5:this sounded good too. this has the scalar descending lick which was well-executed.
Ch6:not much to grumble about at all

I can tell you are concentrating on a couple of aspects which distracted you ever so slightly from the flow, but that’ll sort itself out before you know it. You can perform the techniques so very soon you won’t need to pay so much conscious attention to technique.

Your trem was really good I thought.
133 posts
Oct 30, 2018
4:36 AM
Thanks for your detailed feedback, Bee - as always, it's very welcome!

I totally agree with every point of criticism that you offered. Those are pretty much all the instances in which I was (sometimes just slightly, other times more) distratcted when I was tapping my foot to check the timing. Your memory is partly correct when it comes to the shake: I did not nail it, but that's because I did not hold it LONG enough. :P As I said, the full tempo still kicks my ass a bit and I was relieved to find out that even David mentions in one of the videos that the original tempo is a bit fast for his taste.

It's cool that you also played this song a couple of years ago. :) I think it's pretty fun and the first of the study songs I want to incorporate into my repertoire - at least until I can comfortably play Sonny Boy, Little Walter, etc. but that will take some more time.

I haven't submitted it to David since my financial situation has not changed - I'm still a student and will be for about 1,5 years more, so I have little money to spend. I will save this recording though and when I can afford it, I might still send it to David if I feel I can gain something from it at that point.

Thanks again for your criticism and praise!

Last Edited by SkullKid on Oct 30, 2018 4:37 AM
5629 posts
Oct 30, 2018
6:38 AM
I agree on the point about it being the 1st of the study songs that one might want to use as a performance piece. I did just that, playing it with my first blues band. Often I would use it for a sound check if I recall correctly. ‘The Strut’ is almost cool too. There is a lot to like about the strut but just the head bugs me a bit.

‘Take it easy, now’ is good though. I think, anyway. That wasn’t around when I first learned Gary’s Blues.
Gary’s Blues taught me a lot.
2582 posts
Oct 30, 2018
10:16 AM
Sounds great! I don't know it well enough to know if you are playing it correctly as written. So to me, sounds good and solid and I like the slaps - they sound like they should. I guess you could put in more dynamics and vary the tone if you like it. Just using your hands more will achieve that. You could play some verses very quiet, then open up for others. Lovely.

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