Thank you, Dennis! I still can't believe how well this SJ setup works with a teacher as helpful as you. Nevertheless, I hereby resolve not to bother you with every dumb off-topic question that comes into my head--though it's a temptation, having access day and night to an expert who posts back within the hour! Your reply was very very helpful.
Thanks! Happy to help, that's what I'm here for. Although some days I'm busy doing other lessons, microphone work, gigs, recording, or my radio show (like today). Some days I truly run on "musician's time"...hahaha!!
Thanks, Dennis. I'm AMAZED at how quickly you replied. Don't want to keep you answering silly questions all day, but it seems like if you lift your tongue off the harp with a U groove, you get a different chord from the one you'd get lifting your tongue off from a tongue block. Doesn't that affect the overall sound significantly?
Completely and totally! That is part of the point of tongue-blocking...you want the chord you play (when lifting the tongue) to be made up of the lower notes. This is for the sound and tuning of the chords. If you "imitate" that rhythmic style while U-blcoking (or by opening your pucker while puckering), it is indeed a different chord, which will not sound the same...and the higher you go, the worse this will be with the tuning of the instrument for the draw notes. In no way am I recommending that someone does these things with puckering (lip-blocking) or with U-blocking, but I wanted to state that some people do this. It is not the same technique, nor the same result.
And I happened to be at my computer working on some other projects, so I was able to asnwer quickly...it's all about the timing :-) haha Thanks!
Just ran into Norton Buffalo's "Shuffalo" and now I see how witty your title really is! But since Buffalo was a confirmed U blocker, how do you think he pulled off that tremendous shuffle rhythm w/o tongue blocking (except for TB octaves obviously)?
Actually, my title was just a play on words...it being a "backwards Box Shuffle" pattern, so I "backwardized" that common phrase Shuffle Off To Buffalo ...I don't ever recall hearing Norton Buffalo's tune, though he was a fine player!
You can imitate the tongue-blocked shuffle rhythm with a "U" or "Lip" block technique (puckering) but the attack and the chords are not the same by nature of those techniques. You can pull back the tongue with U-blocking, and can open and close the pucker while puckering (aka lip-blocking), but it does not give you the same results rhythmically or musically...although U-blocking will sound closer since the attack will be closer.
Is the Mr Lee of the title by any chance Lee Allen? You've got me listening to a lot of sax! Thanks for another world class harp lesson!
Hi Terry - No, it's not in reference to Lee Allen - Good guess though! I'm really glad you're diggin' the series. Actually, I disclose the inspiration for the title in one of the upcoming lessons. And hey! I'm glad the lesson has you listening to more sax! Music is music. Each instrument of course, has it's own characteristics and every idea isn't going to work on the harp, but there's plenty of great ideas that originated on all kinds of different instruments that can translate well to the harmonica.
"Buoyant" is the word I've been looking for! Thank you for heading me in a direction I want to go.
Thank you for telling me! Helping people get where they want to go on the harp is what I hope to do here.
I really appreciate this detailed review of the use of the ghost chord........
Thanks Terry - I find using ghost notes and ghost chords one of the most helpful and useful tools for keeping the groove buoyant. To me, they really help the music to feel alive.
Thank you, Jerry. Again your advice is priceless. Like your insistence on NO TABS, it forces me to quit looking for the easy way and just listen and learn from the music itself. There are no magic bullets--and it's probably better that way. Wish I had discovered your lessons 5 years ago when I bought that harmonica and began watching miscellaneous youtubes full of tabs and endless explanations.......
I'm in love with your version of that introductory passage before the vocal. After hundreds of listenings I've managed to figure out which notes you're playing. (Thanks for forcing me to figure it out instead of relying on a tab. It was time well spent!!) Now I'm working on trying to get that marvelous swing right. Even at 50% speed I can't track where the individual notes fall within measures with a metronome, so I'm just trying to get in the groove, imitating you while tapping my feet as I play and hoping that will do the trick.
I've reviewed your lessons on rhythm and syncopation, of course, but do you maybe have any additional advice on how to practice this one passage to get the swing/groove/beat right? I'd be happy to spend a month working on just those 8 bars because I feel getting them down could really set me in the right direction.
Thank you for dedicating your time to beginners like me.
I've gotten hooked on your lessons even though I don't play the guitar: I could listen to you play all day and night. And a big thanks for these lessons on singing!
You say to count along with any music we listen to. I find that Corey Harris's page works really well for me. I don't do anything but count or play chord rhythm along with it........It's fun because I love his playing, but good practice too... Thanks for the tip!
Yes, this is great practice! Not only for the obvious reason (helps with getting a better grasp of rhythm and timing), but also when you do this with songs you study, it helps with getting a grasp of how the phrasing works within/around the beats. But for now, just focus on rhythm, rhythm , rhythm!! Thanks
Just ran into a place where you point out examples of playing ahead of and behind the beat in your own performance. It's in the comments section to the performance of "Lookin Sharp." You say things like "In the 8th chorus starting around 7:30, my second phrase around 7:35 is deliberately behind the beat..." Things like that. Specific! Just what I was looking for. I wonder if it would be very hard for you to point out examples like those in other lessons...for the rhythmically challenged among us.......(sigh)
Thanks for the detailed instructions on counting and the much needed encouragement--also for those suggestions to Bill Blatner about things like using the tip of the tongue in tongue blocking, playing with less air, etc. I've started a list of miscellaneous technique tips and plan to go over it every day....They're starting to add up to a harmonica course in themselves!
That 3 draw slightly bent on the IV chord...how much of a bend would you say it is? A microbend? Does it matter? Accomplished blues players tend refer to notes as "slightly bent" and I never quite know what they mean. I'd like to get that right (if it matters) since I'll be using this chorus a lot for practice with backing tracks, etc. Thanks.......
Good question - It is usually done somewhere between the 1/4 step and 1/2 step bend.
Got it! I need to play background rhythm along with the backing tracks, no sorry attempts at riffing, just rhythm, since that is my major problem at this stage. The rhythmic material you teach here is perfect for that. I am going to need endless repetitions, but I look forward to it, now that it feels like I'm headed in the right direction at least. Thanks so much for setting me straight. You have no idea the ridiculous things I was doing with those backing tracks before this lesson arrived!
Glad this has helped. In my experience (and opinion) from playing and teaching for 25 years, rhythm harmonica skills are overlooked by almost every single player, aside from a few select pros. It's not easy and takes lots of practice to not only get the techniques down correctly, but then to get your timing better and better and better, which is also a big advantage to practicing this type of stuff! It will pay off big time.
I love that stern taskmaster routine. Keep it up! Trouble is, working with the metronome doe
Love that stern taskmaster routine. Keep it up! Trouble is, my rhythm problems are so basic, that once that metronome starts clicking I get in such a muddle just trying to count that I spend an hour just counting and there's no time left to learn to play a single riff. Guess the solution is to face the fact that if I can't count and keep the rhythm, I'm not READY for the songs. But I'm dying to learn Buffle off to Shuffalo, Blue Strollin, Chicago Shuffle, Trill Seeker, etc. etc, ready or not. (sigh.......)
Ok...it can totally be frustrating, believe me I know! I went through learning this all by myself back in the day. Here are a few things you can work on that may help:
- when you listen to music (not practicing) just count along with the song to get in the habit of always keeping track of the beats and the timing/rhythm.
- when you attempt to practice this, start by doing so in small doses. Maybe count for a chorus or two along with a jam track, then play for one 12-bar chorus, then go back to counting along for a chorus, back to playing along for one, etc...
These things will take time, but I have seen them work if you stick with them! Remember - your timing and sense of rhythm is very important, even just to play single-note licks. So if you need work with this, you will be glad you did it, and it will improve EVERYTHING you do musically!
You're a joy to listen to--and a very effective teacher, not afraid to nag when it's about something important. I really need those constant reminders about the metronome. If you didn't keep after me, I'd conveniently forget. Instead, whenever I start to play anything at all, even a scale, I hear that voice, like the voice of my conscience....and I get out the metronome! Thanks!
Glad to hear that I'm helping! (Get the metronome out) I hope you are doing well with this so far. (Get the metronome out) sometimes constant reminders are a pain, but they do help. (Get the metronome out) but I'll do my best not to be a nag! (Get the metronome out)
Every chord with a T. It's great to be able to ask the musician himself when questions like this come up. I'm getting it...gradually....
It takes time but not that difficult once you get the hang of it...and makes a HUGE difference.
Dennis, I'm enjoying these rhythm lessons so much. One quick question about the chording in the IV: Between the 3 half step bend and the 2, and then between that 2 and the next 2--are those rhythm chords articulated with the tongue TAing on the roof of the mouth or are you just rhythmically lifting the tongue off the tongueblocked notes? Sort of the same question I had once before about the first chorus, but even though now I can plainly hear the TA TA ing at the beginning of the first chorus, I'm not sure here.
Every rhythmic chord I am playing here is being articulated with the "T" sound. Never just merely lifting my tongue off the harp. If it is not articulated, it will not have the same attack. Thanks for asking!
Your answers to both Bill's and my questions are very helpful to me. You've inspired me to finally work seriously on that rhythm problem I'd been trying to ignore until now. Your concept of brain vs ear: it seems to offer some hope. For instance, when I try to count (1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and) along with the music, my count gets thrown off every time there's any syncopation. So obviously I'm hearing that syncopation, but my brain doesn't know how to incorporate the information into my reading of the rhythm/timing of the passage. Something like that....Anyway, back to the metronome and the backing tracks. A million thanks: I didn't think an online teacher could be that helpful. I'll be around to bother you again when I get to the point that I can formulate a coherent question about a particular note in a particular passage.
Thanks so much!
Haha - it's no bother! That's what I'm here for. An online teacher can be of GREAT help, just depends on the teacher. Keep working on it and narrowing down the questions and problem areas for yourself, that's how you get it done. Thanks for the respone!
I just can't play a TB bend right after having my tongue on the roof of my mouth. It's hard enough to get them TB'd at all. So I thought, who's to know.... Oh, well....You have a better ear than I do.
About the timing thing: Even when I slow the recording down to 50% and play it over and over, trying to count, I still can't hear whether a particular note is falling on the upbeat or the downbeat. It all just goes by way too fast for me, like in a blur. I can get a general impression of the groove and imitate it, but to hear exactly where the individual notes fall in relation to the beat--that seems like something I'll never be able to do. But in the end, struggling with this kind of lesson should help. I've even dug up a metronome!
If you have a specific note at a specific time in the song you are trying to figure this out for - let me know and I will help. The upbeat and downbeat are very different and players should learn to tell the difference. Your ear can hear it, but you just need to train your brain to tell the difference...! Let me know...
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