Dennis Gruenling

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Trill Seeker

First Chorus Breakdown

Hello Sonic Junctioneers -

Dennis Gruenling here, and this week we start breaking apart my new piece called "Trill Seeker.” As you can probably tell, this song features a variety of trills (aka “shakes” or “warbles”) used in several different melodic contexts in this raunchy blues shuffle. A trill is a an alternating of two adjacent notes, and we will be using the more common trills heard in harmonica (such as the 3-4 draw and the 4-5 draw trills), as well as some other trills. Keep in mind, any time you pick apart a new piece to study, it is always a good idea to also make sure you have a good handle on the techniques used within the piece before you tackle the whole thing. So, if your trill technique is not as clean or even as it should be, it would be a good idea to practice the trills used within each section by themselves first, before attempting the complete phrases or choruses you are working on.

Dig in, this is sure to be a trilling experience!

- Dennis Gruenling



Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
key of E
A Harp
Dennis Gruenling
Trill Seeker

Backing Track

Print Print Chords & Tab

A Harp in the Key of E. 

Loop 0:00 Dennis and Dave Playing the First Two Choruses

Loop 0:46 Introduction to Trills and the Song

Loop 2:56 Trill Technique Breakdown

Loop 4:28 Breakdown of First Trill Riff

Loop 9:57 Slow Practice Loop of First Riff

Loop 10:28 Repeat of Trill Riff

Loop 11:22 Last 4 Bars

Loop 13:31 Slow Practice Loop of First Chorus 

Loop 14:10 At Tempo Practice Loop of First Chorus

Loop 14:38 Closing Thoughts and How To Learn It





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chrisgagnon Feb 16, 2019


Are you tongue blocking on the trills ?

If not- when do you switch? TB the down riff? or only when you get to the 2 draw vamp?



Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Feb 16, 2019

Hi - good question. I am tongue-blocking on basically everything you hear me play, unless I specifically mention I am not tongue-blocking, or there is a tongue articulation going on (like triplet tongueing, or any "doodle-dee" type of tongue articulation on rapid notes). 

klaus meyer
klaus meyer Nov 21, 2017


Buenas dias,

no backing track for Trill Seeker ?

Saludos de Tenerife


Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Nov 21, 2017

Yes, there should be backing tracks for all of my songs here...let me see about this.... 

Bill Blatner
Bill Blatner Mar 26, 2016

Just when I think I will never get this, I make some progress and that keeps me going.   I'll definitely use your pointers.  My tb bending has gotten better as I work on the bends up to the trills.  While I sometimes work on separate excercises, I usually focus on techniques in the context of tunes.  It helps just to be reminded that it's important to work on drills too.

thanks.  I'm learning a lot from this series.

Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Mar 29, 2016

Thanks for the comment. Just keep in mind that it is of the UTMOST importance to make sure technique practice is not done in context of icks or phrases. When you get the technique down (this goes for any technique), then you can throw it in context with ease and with the appropriate attack, depending on the context. That's the only way to truly nail any technique and be able to use it in context. Drills are essential. When you work on technique IN context, you never have enough time to actually work on correct technique, it becomes just a place to throw in your technique, whether it is done correctly or not. Now you can be a Drill Seeker too! ;)

Bill Blatner
Bill Blatner Mar 07, 2016

Hi Dennis,

A recurring issue for me is bending notes while tongue blocking.  Do you have any tips on how to practice or develop this skill?

btw I really enjoyed the show at the Pizza Stone last Friday. A great treat to see you perform and an even greater one to see you perform with Steve Guyger.



Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Mar 25, 2016

Hi, and Thanks Bill! It's always fun when I get to perform with Steve. He is one of my favorites, and a good friend. 

Bending while tongue-blocking is something you should work on a separate exercise, meaning set aside small amounts of time to practice TB bending. Multiple times, but short durations of time will really help. Keep in mind that while tongue-blocking you really need to be in control of your airstream which is now in the corner of your mouth. Also, avoid the temptation to pull your tongue away from the harmonica while bending. That is the most common issue with people learning this technique. Steady practice on a regular basis will help you control your technique better, than you can make sure you can close your airstream enough to bend each note after you are in better control of what you are doing. Does that help?

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