[list=][/list]Hey fellas! Im having a hard time gettin motivated to learn blues songs on the harmonica. I come from a very classical background(ive played classical violin since i was 8. ). so blues feels like a big leap for me for some reason. Ive been listening to some pro blues players on youtube and they kinda inspired me to learn some blues....so where do i go from here? I dont know much about the blues or how to play it....i just kinda copy and imitate what i see on youtube but i dont really FEEL it yet. Im on a very meager student budget so do you guys know of any affordable/free blues lessons or books/tapes/etc. I could get my hands on that would be a good starting point for me? Thanks! -Bogdaddy. P.S. I also just recently started playing with a small band(consists of two guitarists and bass guitar and pianist)....any material that could help me with this?
Bogdaddy: I'm only responding as no one else seems to have the answer phrased properly, yet, but I'm also sure someone will chime in after with a more astute direction for you. I would approach this from your violin knowledge. With the harmonica you can take any tune and play it straight, so the audience recognizes the melody, just as you can play single notes with the violin. But when adding atmosphere to the piece, as Spanish rather than Italian or Oriental rather than Western, you add some exercizes that I call "stunts." This would include "double stops," "slurs," bending the string, etc. I'm sure you know to what I allude. Do this with your harmonica....WITH THE BAND. Start with the basics, the twelve bar blues, which shifts from the melody to chording in the background. You will soon come to realize a myriad of combinations are possible within the 12 bar run, including lip stunts, breath stunts, hand stunts, etc. as well as adding individual notes between the chords. So, it comes down to what you can do as you expand and experiment and the combination that then emits the FEELING behind the piece. One instrument is as to another as one social interchange on a bus is to standing in line at the grocery store. Give it a try and trust your inner directions.
You are a classically-trained violinist. To me, that means that you studied the violin from method books (reading), with an instructor. I'm also a classically trained musician (percussion).
There are very few classically trained harmonica teachers, using the above definition. The classical era of music ended circa 1830, when the harmonica was a set of connected pitch pipes, set in a chromatic row.
To me, "classically-trained" doesn't necessarily mean that you play only music of the classic era, or only orchestral music, but that you've studied seriously out of method books with an instructor.
Since your music background includes note reading, you will probably learn easier with method books and a harmonica instructor who reads music. The note reading will probably not be a problem for you.
If no literate music teacher is available, you could check your local public library for harmonica method books in traditional music notation. You have written that you are on a limited budget. The music books are loaned free. Most of the blues harmonica books that I've found in a local public library are song books, not methods in the blues style.
There is another side of this. As a pro musician, I've always learned the hard way. That is, through performance, listening to live music and recordings. We should learn both reading and ear-training, to be a complete musician. Music is an auditory art form. We learn as much as we can, and then we give our knowledge away.
Reading is good, but the blues style is usually taught by listening and copying. By playing in several types of music groups as a percussionist, I've learned to read, listen and imitate. Ear training wasn't taught in my formal lessons. The local public library usually has an extensive collection of blues harmonica recordings, and they are free to borrow. Learn to listen and imitate, and transcribe.
The ability to hear music and transcribe it on paper is a worthy study. Many musicians supplement their income by transcribing famous recorded musicians. It pays well, and, even if you never get the opportunity to transcribe professionally, you will have the ability to write on paper, verbatim, whatever your favorite musicians are doing. You may then study their music as is.
Thanks so much jon and george lately i have just been playing some blues harmonica backing tracks in different keys and trusting my inner instincts and mimicking what i hear other blues harmonica players playing. I am going to try and find a book or tabs of blues harmonica songs that I like but that will be tricky because i am a bit picky and i do not know very much blues. Any suggestions of some names of songs that I should start out with as a beginning blues harmonica player? I think learning song by song and picking up on the techniques they will require will be a good way of learning for me since that is similar to the way i learned to play violin, song by song, using the suzuki violin method.
Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:22 am Posts: 328 Location: West Tennessee
www.modernbluesharmonica.com Adam Gussow is an very good teacher and has broken down into tabs many well known blues tunes. He sells his lessons as a download. The song and lesson costs about $6 and $2 or $3 dollars for the tab sheet. Very reasonable I think. He also has a couple of package deals for beginners and and intermediate, It's like 5 songs with tabs at a $10 savings. I just bought his lessons on Improv and Tone Clinic, I have also bought both Package deals and recommend them all highly!
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