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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Caravan (chromatic)
Caravan  (chromatic)
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6825 posts
Sep 25, 2020
3:22 AM
Our band is going through a repertoire building phase.
One of the suggested songs is Caravan.
I'm having a go at copying the way Gary Primich played it.
I made a previous attempt at this and gave it up/shelved it, because, essentially, i didn't have the chops. i could see that it was something which was going to take a lot of attention for a considerable period.
Its still like that to an extent but i don't feel so stressed about it at the moment. Before, I felt there were more important, or at least more urgent, things to work on. Now i feel that i can give it the attention it needs, and work on one other thing at the same time.

Ive been playing chromatic for a while, mainly 3rd position with minimal or token use of the slide, but for a few months now i've been tackling some songs in other keys and using the slide as needed.

Caravan is a bit more demanding though.

The first challenge is playing using octave splits. Thats a skill you want anyway, right, so I'm happy to do it. I'm used to playing the "Little Walter" splits but i really did need to tackle the octaves. Thats no biggie, just a matter of sounding pretty sloppy for a while and keeping at it and paying attention to getting it right.

In the Primich version of the song there are a couple of "speed licks". Those are challenging. I think just a matter of playing them properly, at slower speed and then working at speeding up. Light breath helps, and that helps almost everything else too, so serendipity!

There is one other challenge, which involves coordinating slide use and breath direction. The figure is:
1 draw, 2 draw, 3 blow, 3 blow slide in, 3 draw, 3 blow slide in, 3 draw, 3 blow slide in, 3 blow, 2 draw, 2 blow, 1 draw.

its a great lick, all 1/16th notes except the final 1 draw which is an 1/8th

The song moves along, allegedly a "jungle beat" in 4/4 at 112 bpm.

For me, bumping the slide and changing breath direction that rapidly was too much to coordinate. i could do it at 60% tempo, and soon after could do it at 65%. I suspect i may be up to 80% today.

This has to be a good thing to work at too, i think. These are the good reasons to play an instrument IMHO. If I'm going to play something as potentially irritating as the harmonica, i think its a responsibility to at least find ways for it to be benefitting my health and wellbeing to compensate for the risks.

The generic challenge with all these songs for me is memorisation

I told the person who wanted me to learn this that it would be 3 weeks before i was expecting to be able to play along with the band. That means i'll have it memorised and be able to pull off the requisite skills by then. I' at the end of week one and i think i'm on track.

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