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.
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!
I'm actually not seeing a backing track. Could we get up on on the site Mike?
I've gone back to Jerry's instructional CD. He has some great bending exercises that I think are going to help a lot in the long run. Jerry does a lot of the 3-hole bends puckered. Are you doing that lick tongue-blocked?
And thanks for the continued reminders of responsibility to the band of holding down the groove. There's a lot to think about and remember but that's one to tattoo on the palm of your hand.
All you can do, is do your best to be as deep in the groove as you can get at all times.
The phrase on the 5-chord is kicking my butt. You used a very similar but not identical phrase on the third verse of Half Steppin' and I never felt like I had that quite down. This is maybe more challenging because it's a quicker tempo. It's jumping from the 4 draw back to the three draw bent and having enough of a grip on that note to articulate the second half of the phrase that keeps tripping me. When you play it slow you articulate the bent and natural notes on the 3-draw, almost staccato, both times. But when you play it closer to speed it sounds like the second time it's a smoother transition between those two notes. Getting it right seems to depend on nailing that bent note coming off the 4 draw. It's a really expressive phrase that departs sharply from all the play on the 2-hole draw, but if it's not right it just doesn't have the impact. I'm feeling like I get it about one out of five times.
I hope you're getting the hang of that lick. These different transitions between different bent and unbent notes are gonna prove to be real helpful once you get 'em down.
I always appreciate your advice and insight Larry. If I'm working on a solo I usually start with some approximation of the vocal melody and see where that takes me. Thinking about how you would play it if the backing was low and quiet, or if it's building up to a big splash, or maybe one chorus stays down on the first three holes and another moves up. Then use the groove to experiment. Sometimes a lick you've learned or heard somewhere just suggests itself. The repetition, elaboration and then departure that Rick talked about in one of these series is a helpful framework for me also. After a while, you start doing things without thinking about it, but at this stage trying to doing things deliberately when they don't happen naturally or automatically is helping me make them part of my blues vocabulary. It helps me to have frameworks and devices, as Rick calls them, rather than licks, as a way to "create them yourself from within." Rick always says he doesn't know much theory but I think he's got the theory that matters for playing this kind of music. Hey Rick! Didn't mean to be talking about you like you're not in the room :)-
From what you describe, Bill, I think you need "Miles Davis".....everything you need to learn about music and soloing you can learn by listening to how he deals with melodies/soloing. Believe it or not, Miles was totally a blues player in his orientation.
When asked how is it that he solos so imaginatively and wondering how he starts this process, he responded by saying "I think of a (starting) note, and then don't play it".
If you can understand this "Zen" statement after meditating on it, it may open a few doors in your imagination!
Sounds good. I hope the rest of your tour goes well. I'm going to focus on this piece so I'm sure I'll have some questions.
It was great after listening to your records and all our online back and forth to finally meet you and see you play live at Chenango. Fantastic show! I really appreciate you giving a listen to the demos I dropped in your pocket. I neglected to put my email address on the CD so please let me know if you'd like to contact me off this blog.
I love the swing of this tune. It's not hard to get a first approximation but everytime I listen I hear new things in the phrasing. The vibrato on notes that aren't sustained long for example - it adds something I can't really put words to. It all sounds so cool and casual but there are so many deliberate devices that make it sound that way I guess. Lots of challenges for me.
Hi Bill, nice meeting you too! I'll listen to your cd after I'm home. The suv we're renting doesn't have a cd player. And yes, there're a lot of little things I do that I'm not thinking about at all. You've pointed some of that stuff out in the past - Sometimes it's been things I was entirely unaware that I was even doing. Thanks, Bill - Let me know how you're doing and what you think as the series goes on.
Awesome tune Rick! Thanks again or sharing. I'm planning to see you next Friday night at the Chenango Blues Fest - glad you made it out east!
Glad you like the piece, Bill - Be sure to come up and say hi in Chenango.
Sounds like a good idea. Not that I'm complaining but every series that you and Rick do is so packed with great stuff - techniques, concepts, new positions... - it can get a bit overwhelming by chorus number ten! There's several lifetimes worth of blues harmonica to learn from this site. I am very appreciative to have it.
I also appreciate!
Really cool sound Dennis. Are there changes afoot in the format of lessons here? Only three choruses this time.
Well, I was asked to do a shorter format, which I believe will also make some of these study songs perhaps easier to tackle, while I can pinpoint a specific focus even more if I want to.
Actually, you didn't say, but that's really encouraging too. What's so frustrating is that I can only do it for about 5 seconds at a time and then my tongue just spazzes out. I guess there are some muscles that need to be built up. And of course you think you've got it going and then you need to dump some air. The world just doesn't appreciate how devilish this instrument is :)
I can identify. It's elusive. If you work on it daily, it will come - After that, it's good to continue working on it. There're days when my tongue feels pretty sluggish.
A while back I was bemoaning my inability to get the side to side tongue flutter and was feeling resigned to never getting it. You encouraged me not to give up. Well, I still can't do it clean enough or fast enough, but it's gotten to the point where it's beginning to happen and I'm believing I can get there. I heard an interview with Kim Wilson once where he said playing was a lot more fun once he learned that move. I recognize it now all the time listening to you, Dennis, and other players. Ray Norcia has a really sweet, clean tongue flutter. I'm a big believer that patience and persistence will get you where you want to go, but this one really felt out of reach. Thanks for the encouragement in my moment of despair :)
I probably told you this before, but some people can just naturally do that flutter, and some can't - I was a person who couldn't, and had to work on it a lot. I believe Kim was too.
Man, I feel like I could study this one piece for the rest of my life. It's so cool how every verse has something new and one or two things that repeat but with some little variation that makes it really different. The idea of shaping the notes really clicked for me. I think somehow in my twisted brain I have some kind of picture of what I'm playing that isn't just what holes or bends I'm on. In fact, I'm finding playing chromatic really hard because I only know where I am by the sound/picture and I never know what hole I'm on. There's so many more!
On the opening wah-wah, are you scooping up a little on each 2-hole draw in addition to the hand affect? On the crazy trill, would it be right to say you're going back and forth over more than just two holes? Maybe four?
Thanks so much Rick. I'm getting quite an education.
Hi Bill, you're correct - many notes are not only notes. In my mind, a more accurate description might be syllables - though even that isn't a perfect description. But yeah, when they're really pronounced, they're formed with slight bends working in conjunction with hand effects. PS. Playing chromatic too hard does work too well. You can shape notes in a similar way to how you shape on a diatonic, but you have to finnesse the shapes in a different, less forceful way - The range of the amount of air pressure that you can use and the way in which you use it, requires a different touch and feel.
I'm not so good with the technology. Honestly, though, I doubt there's that much to learn from my playing. I do think a lot of Rick's style is rubbing off on me. I listen a lot, over and over, and just keep trying to get that sound. Maybe I'll give it a try when I get a little more comfortable with this one and you can be the judge.
Hey Bill !! thanks for the answer and yeah ?!! why not try it ??. though it s not an easy one ... I didn t try it yet but ... I will , anyways is just that I read so many good comments of you around time , that I m curious about you and it s not to be judge ... it s you always there playing and I ackwoledge that fact ... It s hard to me to be discipline ... so that it s ... congratulation ... but I will get there ... it s too fun to do it !! there s so much with Rick !! so much !!
Oh yeah. I had a question. You mention at about 9:45 about getting an aggressive sound but how you don't want the harp to stick. Is it blowing or drawing too hard that makes the harp stick? What's going on with the harp when that happens?
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