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Harmonica Blues Improv (Jamming)

Improv is short for improvisation which means the same as "jamming". . . instead of playing pre-written music to a song, you are making it up as you go. This is not only a lot of fun, but is much easier than many people would imagine.

The tips, songs, and instruction on this website are samples and exerpts from Harmonica Lessons.com. Many of the links below will lead to additional information at HarmonicaLessons.com.



SAMPLE VIDEO:  How to Play Harmonica for Beginners
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A simple playing tip to speed up your movement and add accuracy in single notes.
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Dave gives a general overview of what you can obtain from both diatonic and chromatic harmonicas in regards to harmonica chords.
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In this excerpt, Dave discusses some of the reasons for playing in either 1st Position or 2nd Position.

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12 Bar Blues MIDI File:

Here is a 12 bar blues MIDI file in the key of "G", Slow_Blues_in_G.mid, that you can download and play/practice to with a standard key of "C" diatonic played in 2nd position. There is over 5 minutes of MIDI music that you can jam to (7 times through the 12 bar blues).

Once you click on the MIDI file it should download and begin to play. If it hasn't started playing automatically, you can double-click on this file and it should open your operating system's default MIDI player (Windows Media Player on a PC or QuickTime on a Mac).

Since the first four bars of the song is an intro, the first full 12 bar blues pattern begins on the 5th bar. You can start playing at anytime or wait until the fifth bar to begin the full 12 bar blues pattern.

To accurately come in on bar 5, hit the play button on your MIDI player, and then count 1 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4, 3 2 3 4, 4 2 3 4 (four beats or foot taps per bar), and you're in. Another way to come in at the beginning of the first full 12 bar blues pattern, is to listen for the drums to do a short 2 beat pickup (or fill) just before all the instruments begin playing at bar 5.

Try any or all of the three suggested methods of improvisation below. Have fun!

Click here for additional "Jam-To" MIDI Files.



Basic Techniques Improv:

You can use the notes and technique here to play to any blues tune. This is assuming that you know what key the song is being played in, and you have the correct harmonica for playing 2nd Position or "Cross Harp" in that key. Initially, avoid other note choices and concentrate on incorporating the listed techniques to create sounds and "riffs" (short repeatable melodic phrases). If you have a problem with the hole 2 Draw you can substitute the hole 3 blow until you have the ability to make the hole 2 Draw come out correctly (which is accomplished by proper breathing technique).

Basic Techniques Improv



Basic Blues Riffs:

Except for the triplet riffs, you can use your own timing with these riffs to make them fit into whatever song you are playing with. Use repetition of a single riff and pauses between these riffs to create a more melodic feeling to your playing. For Intermediate and Advanced players, you can add a 4 draw bend between the 4 blow and the 4 draw of the "Almost" Blues Scale. This will make it a complete one octave blues scale.

2nd Position Blues Riffs



Target Notes Over 12-Bar Blues:

The Target Notes method of improv is a good way to play to the actual chord changes of a song. With this improv method you can never play a note that sounds wrong. When you add your favorite playing techniques (i.e. any of the techniques found in the Basic Techniques Improv) and throw in some passing notes, this approach is pretty hard to beat.

Target Notes



"Jam-To" Blues CDs:

Here are three recommended "Jam To" albums (with keys for each song) that you can apply the above improv approaches to. All three albums are fun to play along to and also have very solid harmonica playing to listen to and copy. You can pick up these CDs and many others for listening and jamming to at Harmonica Store.com.

Recommended Jam-To Blues CDs





SAMPLE VIDEO:  Advanced Harmonica Tips
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Dave explains how the concept of "Follow Through", as found in many sports, also applies directly to your breathing and airflow.
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Dave explains the value of not just learning a scale up and down, but dividing it into smaller "bite-size" chunks, which can then be used as blues riffs.
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Dave demonstrates how you can use the "Tonguing" technique to create interesting sounds such as the "Chicken Call".

 - Over 45 Hours of Video Lessons -
 Attend up to 12 Live Classes per Month

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at
HarmonicaLessons.com


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 * Dave Gage - 30 Year Teaching Pro







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