Rick Estrin

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Chicago Shuffle

Verse 1 - V Chord

In this lesson, I depart from my usual focus on groove (trust me, it's still in there) and actually show you a "lick"! More importantly, I'll show you little nuances to make that lick effective.


Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
key of E
A Harp
Chicago Shuffle
Rick Estrin

Backing Track

Print Print Chords & Tab

A Harp in the Key of E.

Loop 0:40 Run-Through of Last 4 Bars (V, IV, I and V)

Loop 1:02 Breakdown of 1st Part of the Riff

Loop 2:54 Practice Loop of 1st Part of the Riff

Loop 3:31 Breakdown of 2nt Part of the Riff (Starting on 6 Hole Blow)

Loop 4:41 Slow Practice Loop of Whole Riff

Loop 5:04 Hand Technique and Closing Thoughts




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Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Jul 31, 2014

Harvey - Larry's right. The bend doesn't come from muscling the harp. Larry described the tongue action real well. It shouldn't take a lot of air or force, but the air needs be focused. It's not about chops, it's about finesse. Whatever you do, don't give up - Once you get it, it'll seem easy!

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" Jul 22, 2014

Harvey Kail...

The fact that you believe it takes a lot of pressure on that 5 inhale bend in order to bend it towards the floor tells me you should rethink your bending technique.

Hole 5 inhale affords only a shallow bend and the "note room" here is kinda like a very small "note closet" - maybe 4 feet tall, where the floor is not very far from the ceiling.

Inhale bending doesn't come from "force", but just a positioning of the tongue through arching. Once you understand where and how much to arch your tongue up (in its' middle section), you will find that you can bend without pulling in a lot of air.

Since it is the mid section of the tongue that arches up, the tip of the tongue is not engaged in any way. Therefore, whether it rests on the harmonica a la TB or just lays at the bottom of the mouth through single note playing doesn't really matter.

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" May 19, 2014

Soaring to that 5 hole inhale....you are not making it "sharp". 

Imagine that each note "lives" in a small room (like a closet). When you let the note play at its highest point, that is playing the note at the ceiling. (If you have a helium balloon in the closet with you and you let go of the string, that balloon will rise to the ceiling. Can't go any further up).

When you bend that note down as far as it will go, that is playing the note at the floor. (Imagine taking that helium balloon, pulling on the string until you can get your hand on top of it and moving it down till it hits the floor. You can't go any lower than that floor. If you try, that balloon will squash out and eventually burst).

There is also a point when you feel the balloon at the floor start to resist your downward pushing. You can develop a feel for this in your mouth when you bend down...that slight bit of resistance when you hit the floor.

In listening to Rick play, it is obvious he knows where that floor is. The secret is that when you bend a note to the floor, it is actually almost 1/4 tone flat to the proper pitch. Advanced players will aim for about 1 foot off the floor to create a note at pitch. Of course, in blues, it is also ok to play with that note and go right down to the floor for moaning effects.

However, if you try to play the note past that floor, you will stress out the reed and it will eventually go flat. Try to develop your feeling in the mouth to resist "squashing the ballon into the floor".

harvey kail
harvey kail Jul 16, 2014

Thanks, Iceman, for that helpful analogy.  I am working on the V chord of Chicago Shuffle, and it not only demands moving up and down that closet of pitches but getting them right with the groove, too.  It's a challenge.  But let me ask this.  Should all this bending be happening from the tongue blocked position?  I can sort of do it with my lips, but soaring that five draw bend tongue blocked and then taking it to just above the floor demands a lot of pressure to get the kind of tone that seems effortlessly to emerge from Rick's harp.  I'm not sure I got the chops. Help!


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