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Transposing Riffs on Harmonica

Transposing riffs or tunes to another octave.

 
  • It is a good exercise to transpose songs from one octave to another. It will make you a lot more familiar with your Harmonica.
  • You will also find this technique useful when writing solos. If you are stuck for a new idea, you can transpose one of the riffs you are using up or down an octave.
  • Initially you may find this difficult to do by ear, so I have created a few tools to help.
  • Click on one of the links below and you will see some drop-boxes in a separate window.
  • Now using tab for a song you already know, Click on notes in the left box to see what they transpose to.
  • Then write out your new tab and learn to play your song in the same key but on a different octave.
  • Do this for as many songs as you can and after a while you will notice that you will be able to transpose songs by ear.  

 

Amazing Grace

On the upper Octave

Amazing Grace

mp3

Amazing   Grace how sweet the sound
+6+7+8-8+7  +8   -8   +7   -6   +6

That saved a  wretch like me
+6   +7   +8-8+7+8   -8  +9
 
I once   was  lost but now am found
+8  +9  +8-8+7  +8  -8  +7  -6  +6

Was blind   but now   I  see
+6   +7    +8-8+7+8   -8 +7

Transposed down one Octave

Amazing Grace

mp3

   
Amazing    Grace how sweet the sound
+3+4+5-4+4   +5   -4   +4  -3"  -2

    
That saved a wretch like me
+3   +4   +5-4+4+5  -4  +6

     
I once was lost but now am found
+5 +6  +5-4+4+5 -4  +4  -3" -2

    
Was blind  but now  I  see
+3   +4   +5-4+4+5  -4 +4 
 

Last of the Summer Wine

On the lower Octave

Last of the Summer Wine

mp3

The last of the Summer Wine
+3   +4  +5 +4  -5 +5  -4

The sweet bouquet of memories
+3   -3   +4 -4   -5 +5 -4 +4

Of You and I as time goes by
+3 +4  -4 +5 +6 -6    -5  -4

I still remember these
+4 -3   -3"-2+6   +5

The last of the Summer Wine
+3   +4  +5 +4  -5 +5   -4

When passing shadows still recur
+3  -3 +4   -4 -5    +5  -4 +4
 
Of golden days so young in love
+3 +4 -4   +5  +6  -6   -5  -4

And that's the way we were
+4   -3    -3" -2  -4  +4

Transposed up one Octave

The Last of the Summer Wine

mp3

The last of the Summer Wine
+6   +7  +8 +7  -9 +8   -8

The sweet bouquet of  memories
+6   -7   +7 -8   -9  +8 -8 +7

Of You and I as time goes by
+6  +7 -8 +8 +9 -10   -9  -8

I still remember these
+7 -7   -6+6+9    +8 

The last of the Summer Wine 
+6   +7  +8 +7  -9 +8   -8 
   
When passing shadows still recur  
+6  -7 +7    -8 -9   +8   -8 +7
    
Of golden days so young in love 
+6 +7 -8   +8  +9 -10   -9  -8
    
And that's the way we were 
+7   -7    -6  +6  -8  +7 
 
 

Notes:

 
  • If a song covers more than two octaves on your harp it cannot be transposed up or down (without the use of some poetic license)
  • If your song has a -6 or -5, these notes will transpose down to bent notes -3" and -2". You may find it difficult to get bent notes to sound good in a straight song but don't let that put you off. It is still a good training exercise to learn the song on another octave. Keep trying to perfect your tone on that bent note.
  • If any of you guys would like to submit a song or riff played on two different octaves (sound files and tab), I will put them on this page.
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