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Tab books, lick books etc
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6145 posts
Sep 02, 2019
4:31 PM
I do collect books of harp tab.
In a small way. It’s not an all-consuming passion, just sometimes if I find a book of tabs I don’t have and I think is interesting I’ll grab it.
Dave Barrett produced 3 books of transcription from complete albums. Unfortunately these are out of print.

One is the Walter Horton ‘alligator’ album “with Carey Bell”.
I was lucky to find that book years ago and used it to help me learn ‘have a good time’. I started out on that song using an Adam gussow lesson, where AG guided me through the intro and first solo chorus.
Later, I used the book to help me learn ‘trouble in mind’.
I’m not skilled enough to say whether a person could use these transcriptions to play the harp parts without listening to the recording, but david’s notation seems quite detailed. I listen and look and play, phrase by phrase until it seems about right, and I think I get some insight from it. Maybe it’s just the focus and time but if so, so what? If I play better as a result I’m ok with that.

The other 2 books david made are from Carey Bell’s Deep Down album, and a William Clarke album, maybe Serious Intentions (or was it Blowin’ Like Hell?)

I may have just tracked down a copy of the Carey Bell book. I hope so, because I already paid for it. I saw 3 copies advertised on amazon at ridiculous prices ($800-$900) so looked elsewhere. Found a copy in Texas for $20. More than double that by the time it’s delivered but still cheaper than filling my gas tank.

Now though, that Clarke title is gonna bug me. I know I’m gonna get on the lookout for it sometime.
276 posts
Sep 04, 2019
11:01 PM
Nice find Superbee! Good luck hunting down the one that's going to bug you.

I have a few good books about blues and history. I collected a stack of instructional books but realized they didn't do much for me. I eventually passed all of them on to other folks.

I never got into using tab. What I've seen is missing too much information for conveying music but I can imagine the advantage of looking at tab the way you are using it.

I have an app called Harmonica Exercises. It shows hole numbers... but I just listen and play along. I've also used a CD "101 Licks". I've never really set out to memorize a bunch of licks but I think the work pays off.

It's about time I got around to this.
182 posts
Sep 05, 2019
4:58 PM
The Clarke book is a transcription of “Serious Intentions”. I ended up using it to learn a few songs note for note and sometimes just to learn certain licks. I think tab books are a great companion to learning by ear.
6151 posts
Sep 05, 2019
6:36 PM
Nice! I’m jealous. Now I’m gonna play the album while I mend some harps.

Ronnie Shellist suggested I spend some time with Groove Time, so that has been the mainstay of my Clarke listening for a while. I could do to listen to something else.

I’ve been searching online for the book this morning. (Without success)
I found out there is a Sugar Blue book too. In Your Eyes. (Didn’t find that either)
I do have a transcription of Sugar Blue’s ‘little red rooster’ though and that is probably a sufficiently challenging piece. Sugar Blue is definitely a level or 2 beyond my current aspirations.

I’ve managed to find a handful of copies of the Carey Bell book at reasonable prices, but no sign of the other 3 in the series.

While I was searching for Serious Intentions I was made keenly aware of how much material David Barrett has produced over the last 20 years (or more?).
There is just so much, but David has said the ‘Accompaniment’ and ‘Improvisation’ books are among his most satisfying works.

I have those. Maybe I’ll narrow my focus for a while and study one or the other for a month.
6152 posts
Sep 06, 2019
5:05 PM
I found this review/publicity piece about the Carey Bell book


Interesting to see DB state at that time - 1997! - he though Carey Bell always tongue blocked.
I’m pretty sure the consensus now is that he was not tongue blocking except where he needed to.

No matter. I think Dave expresses his view pretty clearly; if you can use tongue blocking, do so. If tongue blocking gets in the way, don’t use it.

It’s been interesting/frustrating to revisit the search for these books. I’m surprised in a way at the lack of hits I get when searching for the titles.

There are plenty of other books of course.

On a slightly different angle, I’ve just read ‘Bitten by the Blues’, which is Bruce Iglaur’s autobiographical story of his Alligator record label.

That is a really interesting work. The perspective of a label owner and producer focused on blues music, and beginning in 1969-ish up to the present is something which I think Bruce is almost uniquely placed to provide, and I’m grateful he has done so.

There really is a lot to it.

I observed a while ago that I was almost always willing to take a punt on an album on Delmark, because the strike rate has been so high.

I can’t say the same for Alligator although I’ll usually be interested to see what they have. I think I have had much higher awareness of alligator for a longer period and I know that I have to pick and choose.

With delmark it’s been more of a gradual build where I realised I had a bunch of my very favourite records which carried that label so when I saw the label on something I didn’t already know I was already inclined to entertain the idea I’d like it.

Anyway, it was interesting to read about the Big Walter album which was the second record on Alligator.
That recording has a special appeal to me because the version of Have a Good Time is my model for that song and has been in my repertoire quite a long time. Also, Trouble in Mind from that album is very strong.
I knew nothing of the recording though other than how it sounds.
The title ‘with Carey Bell’ seems totally appropriate to me now, as the way Bruce tells it, Carey Bell was vital in getting Walter up for the recordings.

This record is probably where I first heard of Carey Bell too.
6178 posts
Sep 20, 2019
7:40 PM
My book arrived and looks to be a true New Old Stock item.

I also obtained the recording. Wow! No wonder the author says to ‘pace yourself’ when working through the book. This is some heavy playing from Carey Bell. I think I’ll just mine a few licks from it

But first, I’ve committed to study Steve Guyger’s ‘snake oil’. I think that will be a great project as it’s all in the first 6 holes and has some very simple but fluid passages all built around a blues scale and lots of variations on a theme. It’s also a pretty good example of how to make a song and use repetition with just enough change to stay entertaining.
And beyond those considerations is the fantastic tone which Guyger obtains, and which I get to focus on and try to emulate. Practice at doing that for a couple weeks will do me no harm at all
3 posts
Oct 11, 2019
10:25 PM
@dchurch harmonica app any good?
624 posts
Oct 28, 2019
2:39 PM
David Barrett also wrote a tab book for Sugar Blue's "In Your Eyes".

It is, like all DB transcriptions, impeccable. And out of print.
Marc Graci
YouTube Channel
6237 posts
Oct 29, 2019
3:09 PM
yeah, Mirco, not only out of print either but also as i lament through several of my burbling posts above, very difficult to find as a used copy. i expect these things are related i.e. the books are out of print due to low sales numbers and probably the majority of unsold copies were pulped. i feel very fortunate to have the Big Walter book. The Carey Bell book I've recently scored is the only one i can still find.

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