I see that I need to practice rhythm playing as a separate exercise. Should I do this to grooves other than shuffle grooves? If I played other than a shuffle groove, should I play the bassline on my harmonica? Would this be a good exercise?
That syncopated shuffle rhythm will be the most important rhythm technique to learn anmd learn well if you want to play blues harmonica well. Bass lines are always a great idea as well, but that is a different thing. Many bass lines in traditional blues will go along with a shuffle type of rhythm, or something slightly varied from this rhtyhm. Also, practicing this rhtyhm will help you always get better with your timing/sense of time and rhythm which is also very important as a musucian. I would start working with the shuffle rhythm on several key harps, and varying the tempo from slow shuffle to mid- and fast -shuffle tempos first.
I think what I like most about this style of playing is that you can easily play something like this without any other musicians or any accompaniment. The harmonica is active, and the chords are very present in all of your phrases, so you can play this and an audience would be able to keep the beat. That's at the heart of the blues, right? Just one or two dudes on the street with a harmonica and maybe a guitar, singing and playing?
Yes, that was a big point to this series...being able to make the groove and beat more present and obvious. I guess the heart of the blues is debatable, but expressing oneself is up there on the list for sure, as well as being able to move other people figuratively and literally. A strong beat will certainly help move them for sure!
Hmmm..... something is messing with me here. The phrases you play on the one and the five both start on the downbeat. When you play the 1+ on the four chord, your phrasing starts on beat 2 (I believe...). Am I counting these beats correctly?
I feel compelled to start the IV phrase on the downbeat just to be consistent. Should I train myself to wait a beat to start this phrase?
Thanks for your help, Dennis!!
Yes, you are counting them correctly (as I am in the video)...Why do you want them to all start consistently on a downbeat? That's not how the song is played. Yes, you should just count the downbeat of the IV ("1") silently to yourself if you need to. It's just startoing on beat 2...I have faith in you that you can do this!! : )
I see that you are moving your head for the trill instead of your wrist. Does your neck hurt from doing so many trills so fast? Why do you prefer moving your head instead of your hands?
I'm actually moving both my head and my hands, but mostly head...and when you only move your hands it totally affects your grip & tone, so I do not recommened that way. Plus I think using mainly your head is more consistent and less intrusive of your flow of technique. And no...my head or neck never hurt from doing this, haha! Not once...it's a very low-impact workout!
Thanks for listening! I set the metronome at about 150. This song is fast!
By using the metronome, I was forced to actually count how long each note was, instead of just feeling it. I think that's a good thing!!
Nice work! sounds good...
Yes, that's a great thing! And the tempo is fast, but the licks are not necessarily fast. Good job!
Thanks, Dennis. You make some good points. Clearly, I have a lot to learn from you. There's a portion of my practice time that I set aside for improvising & applying the concepts I worked on that day. I usually do this to a jam track, but I'll start using a metronome on some days.
My two questions:
1) I sometimes have trouble feeling the beat when playing with just a guitar player. That's why I used a different jam track (in A). How can I develop the ability to play with just a guitar player? (I have practiced with a metronome, but that's no solution. With a metronome, there's a clear and obvious beat. I don't always pick up on this when it's just guitar).
2) How about the timing on the pickup to the V? I didn't play it in time, but it almost feels like this pickup is out of time, just floating out there. It's got a similar feel to how Junior Wells opens the 4th chorus of Chitlin con Carne, I think.
Nice job on the notes & licks...see more detail below...and thanks!!!!
As far as your 2 Questions:
1) If you sometimes have trouble feeling the beat (or rather "keeping the groove") when just playing with a guitar player, or just want to be a better soloist (much of which comes from having a GREAT sense of the groove and timing) then practice Playing rhyhtm with tracks, but YES, specifically with a metronome. Why exactly do you say that is "no solution"? Yes, there is a clear and obvious beat with a metronome, and if you regularly practice with that you start laying a foundation of YOURSELF keeping and holding a steady beat, so you cen eventualy rely on yourself for the groove and timing, regardless of who you are or aren't playing with. That's the whole point :-) Not so you can hear the beat and just jam, but to play along with a metronome (which will hold a steady beat for you to start instill in yourself) and them eventually need it less and less. The goal is to become your own metronome!
2) The timing sounds OK leading into the V. The pickup isn't out of time, just maybe not phrased the way you expected, or less "on the beat", but it is not out of time...that is totally different :-) Good Work!!!!
Marc - Also spend time just practicing rhythm. Playing a shuffle rhythm to a jam track. Over and over and over....to different tempo jam tracks. It's a GREAT way to get better not only at the rhythm technique, but especially at keeping time and building a steady meter. Boring, perhaps....but it gets results!!!
When you move from the I chord to the IV chord, does it matter which direction you move? It seems that when you played the song, you moved your left hand down for the Bb, but there were other times when you moved up for the IV chord. Does it matter?
I think any good player has to get proficient at holding a groove down just by playing on the root note. It's like what Little Walter did in "Off the Wall" and "Juke." Chorus 5 is cool break because the song has really built up in intensity to that point. I don't know if there's anywhere else to go!!
Thanks, and yes, keeping a groove is of the utmost importance! Playing a catchy riff while staying on one note and keeping the groove is also a very overlooked skill and demands a full command of your musical sensibilties.
Thanks, Davell! I'll take some time to work through this lesson and I'll try to watch your hands carefully. The left hand shuffle pattern is explained well, but I'll try to figure out that melody over the V, and the introduction. Man, you are good!When I feel like I have something, I'll try to record a video.
Wow. This is so great. I feel like, if a guy learns this song, he'll really know how to improvise with the blues scale. You clearly have a solid background in theory and I love how you sneak it into the lessons in a painless way.
I appreciate the double V, too. This comes up fairly regularly with the guys I play with, because they like to do some Stones and other rock tunes.
Thanks Marc! Yes, the double V is common in rock & roll and some jump blues as well.
Sneaking in a good lesson while making it fun is all part of being a good tecacher, thanks for noticing!! :)
Hi, Davell! This is a great song and a great lesson. Your voice is golden.
I've only been playing piano consistently for about six months now. I've been playing blues harp much longer than that, so I'm familiar with this song and the blues genre, and that was my primary reason for joining Sonic Junction. Your playing is WAAAAY beyond my abilities currently(and for the foreseeable future).
I think that my immediate goal, the takeaway from this lesson, would be the left hand blues shuffle, right? Is there any advice that you would give a beginner, or is there any "bridge" course or material out there you would recommend?
Great to know you are progressing as a musician. This lesson, if you follow it closely and practice, it is a geared towards the beginner of the blues for the left hand. Study it closely and upload a video For me to see your progress. I can guide you better from learning where you are now.
Good luck and keep playing!!
"Someone that is strictly a harmonica player is of no value in this world."
Probably once every lesson, you say something that just cracks me up. I learn a lot of great technique from these lessons, but the overall entertainment value is off the charts. You speak the truth, though.
I said that?!?!? 😂 I believe it is generally the truth, but I'm a little surprised I actually said it publicly.
Cool. Love the focus on the basics. I hope I can get this down. Like Vic Wooten says, it all starts with the groove.
Have fun with it - and, Vic Wooten is absolutely right!
Thank you very much, Rick. This series has been fantastic. I hear what you're saying about too many guys focusing on licks and never really saying anything. I'm probably one of those guys, but I don't want to be. Your lessons are helping me in that way.
You're one of the best guys playing in that Sonny 2 style. I'll probably learn your "Nine Below Zero" next. Can I request a video series on "Too Close Together"?
By the way:
2 draw bent a half step is the third of the V.
The arpeggiated chord is 1 draw, 2 half step, 3 whole step, 4 blow, then back to 4 draw for the root.
Thanks Marc - I don’t know what I said it was, but thanks for that info. I know about playing blues on the harmonica, but I’m sure it’s apparent I‘m not that knowledgeable in the music theory department.
Hope I can chime in with my .02. Accompaniment requires a delicate balance between opposing elements.... between soft and loud, between repetition and originality. Dave Barrett always told me that a player can play louder if he is playing repetitively. (Think song hooks, warbles, or organ like held notes to add texture.)
I really like this as an example of Walter's accompaniment. Notice how Walter uses textures and held notes behind the vocals. When there's space, he plays more inventively. I'm sure Rick (or other players on this board) have other, better examples.
I can recommend Dave Barrett's "Blues Harmonica Accompaniment Playing", from Mel Bay.
So this is a 2-3-4 chord in a triplet, right? I don't hear the 1 draw at all. But I could be wrong (and I usually am wrong).
Hi Marc - I’m just slapping my tongue on and off the harp and covering the bottom four holes. I can hear the 1 draw note in there, but the 2nd and 3rd holes sound a little more focused, and are coming out a little louder. Thanks - Rick
If I'm hearing and counting correctly, you're coming in from the V, right? It's confusing because 6 blow is a strange note for the V. Do you tell the band to come in from the V?
It’s just an intro. It could be coming from the V or not. If there was accompaniment on the intro, there’s a chance I might have picked another note, but I was just thinking of it as an intro.
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