I'm in woodshed mode these days. Lots to work on. Just thought I'd reach out and say hello. I hope you and the guys are doing OK in this wacky time. You've got a decade on me but we're both in the danger zone :) Hope to see you next October when you come to the Bull Run.
Hi Bill, Good to hear from you too. This is a crazy time for sure - With any luck, I'll just stay in the house and avoid getting sick - At my age, when they start having to make decisions on who gets treatment, I'll be expendable. In the meantime, there's plenty to keep me occupied. Thanks for checking in!
Yes! Hopefully all this work in the woodshed shows up positively on the stage when I'm focused on responding to my bandmates! That's the goal anyway!
Thanks for your response Dennis. The 3-hole bends are so essential to playing blues and I have been working hard on this, both puckered and tongue blocked. This is helpful. I've found that focusing on drawing deeply into my belly really helps and thinking deliberately about moving the bend further up or down in your mouth/throat is a new idea. I feel like I've been doing that somewhat instinctively, but probably not enough. It helps to have a focus when working on things that are hard.
That's what I'm here for...some of this will be more detailed on a book I'm working on (in my spare time haha!!) but that should help a lot. Thinking can help during practice, just not so much on the bandstand haha!
Ah, that 3-hole half-step bend...Why does it get harder to hold and control on the higher pitched harmonica? Is there something that shifts in the technique? I have much better control and vibrato playing it puckered but articulation of the phrasing would be so much better if I had that control tongue-blocking. Anything particular you would recommend focusing on?
Thank you once again!
The technique of bending changes with every note you want to bend, as it is a pitch-specific technique. The lower the note, the deeper it is done. The higher the note, the furtehr front it is done. It's all about finding the sweet spot for each pitch you want to bend, puckered or tongue-blcoked. You are just likely more comfortable at it puckered because perhaps you have more time practicing and playing that way with bends compared to TB.
Quick 4-chord on measure 2?
Yes, Quick IV (bar 2 of every chorus).
Thanks for your response. I'm starting to get it I think. It seems like theory is more of way to codify and communicate a relationship of notes being played that give a certain sound. By describing things in terms of intervals, the pattern transfers to any key, since it's all set in relation to the root note. In the same way that giving a thing a name or word gives it a concept place in your brain, the theory can give you a pattern to identify or create distinct styles and feels. So if I listen to a Louis Armstrong solo and identify the notes he's playing in an interval schema, I can begin to identify the pattern that is creating the feel of the solo. Of course there's more than just the note choices that create the feel, but it's a part of it. It starts with listening and knowing the sound by, well, what it sounds like. Putting it in the context of theory gives you some constraints that help identify or recreate that sound in other keys or contexts.
I heard Charlie Batty once say you don't want to be governed by theory but it's good to be aware of it. That seems wise. So much more to master to be a good harp player. Thanks again - now I'll get back to practicing my 3-hole draw bends :)
Bill - this is the best reply I cold have asked for - you are exactly right. It's very much like a language that way. When you learn how to put words and parts of speech together, you learn how to communicate certain things...HOWEVER, there are other things involved such as HOW you say the words, the timing and intonation of voice, and of course slang and innuendo. So once you learn some basics, you also learn how to add other meanings to words (notes) by decorations, timing, textures, effects, etc...and then use it all as a means to be expressive!
So here are some theory questions.
Does being in the key of F just mean that the root note is F?
I guess my main question is, what determines which notes "work" or are "legal" over a given chord and how does that relate to the key of the song?
Yes, being in the Key of F means F is the root.
All different styles of music use different parts of the scale to get their type of sound, so notes that work in traditional blues are fairly similar to old style rock and rool and country, but certain styles of jazz and other types of world/ethnic music all vary, which is a big reason why they sound different.
It also depends on how well you speak the language of music and how well you know how to piece together these different parts of the scale. In other words, just about any note CAN work if you know how to make it fit in, but that all depends on your knowledge and experience speaking the language of whatever music you are playing. There are some basic rules, but I go pretty in depth with this with a lot of my private students. However, I don't know of any GOOD resource for this type of knowledge aside from experience and taking some serious one-on-one lessons with someone who understands this concept.
Will do. Thanks Dennis.
I know there is some reticence to get deep into the theory, but perhaps you can point me toward some source. I can see and hear the roots of the changes, but I don't understand how the other notes played over each chord fit into a pattern or theory. It's hard not to be curious about what rules apply.
Hi Bill - follow through with this whole series first, then let me know what questions you have. I'll help in any way, but I do break some of it down...
I like the short format. This would be a good study piece to learn and then practice on different key harmonicas. There's a lot of 3-hole draw bend work and I'm not solidly consistent from one harp to another.
Yes - I strongly recommend practicing anything you learn on all different key harps! The 3 draw is so important to master, you can never be TOO good! Glad you're working on this...thanks
Gagi! You sound awesome!
Thanks, I broked my G harp and thats why is missing 2nd part... 😞
Your demonstration of the turnaround for the first chorus starts at 4:10.
Yes, the 2/5 blow.
Man, what a beautiful piece.
On the turn around, you scoop up to the 3-draw, then 4-draw, 5 blow, - Are you playing the 2-5 blow there? It sounds like more than a single note.
Which turnaround? Give me a time code.
Yeh, on the Hate to See You Go CD it's definitely in F. Must be something funny about the YouTube version. Thanks. Looking forward to working on this again.
The Little Walter recording sounds a little flat, like somewhere between E and F. Do you hear it that way?
I just listened to it. Must have been slowed down somew along the way because it seems to be in E here.
Well, thanks for giving us this piece. You may have needed to come up with a another lesson but this was a great one. And if anyone thinks they have this all wrapped up with a bow on it, they can check out the new record because you do a bunch of things differently on that so there's more to learn there. Personally, I'm at the point where I've got the basic notes and phrasing figured out but there's so much dynamic and tonal variation to key in on and also just keeping that swing. The rhythm is so infectious when you get it right, but if you slip and fall out of the pocket for an instant it stands out like a sore thumb. Demanding piece if you ask me. Thanks again.
Thanks Bill, I'm glad you dug the series, and yeah there's always lots more to learn, for all of us. As you know these lessons are just a means to a never ending end - They're just vehicles for growth.
Yeh, while I still spend a lot of time trying to really master basic techniques, I'm learning a lot from you about swinging with style and pizzaz. You da man.
Two things I particularly love: The 3-hole draw, "slightly bent" with vibrato. That's just such a sweet sound and way to end the phrase hanging to set up the V change. And then the second last note. You kind of slide into the 4-hole draw bend to set up the blast on the 4-hole natural. Ba-dat-dowww! So cool.
I'm glad you're diggin' the piece, Bill. With guys like yourself, who already know how to play, my hope for these lessons is that they can help your heighten your awareness of some of the little things - things that can make a big difference in the overall effect
I spend most of my time on the harmonica parts of Sonic Junction but I wanted to say thanks for talking about singing! So much in the blues that ain't western theory. Your ideas resonate deeply with me. Thank you again.
Bill thanks so much for that, much appreciated. All thr best.
You've been preaching the gospel of George "Harmonica" Smith for a long time but I finally, on a 5-hour solo car trip, got in deep. I must have listened to Blues in the Dark 200 times, and am still listening. There's so much to learn in this piece! What is most impressive to me is how he defines and drives that groove - he's pulling the rhythm section along with him! Swinging behind and ahead of the beat, which you've mentioned elsewhere, to remarkable effect. So thanks for turning me on to GHS. This piece is really moving my chromatic playing.
Glad to hear that, thank you!
Yes, George was a phenomenal player, and a great musician. He knew how to build and release tension, and how to establish and play with a groove...on chromatic AND diatonic!
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