For this lesson, I’ve picked 6 blues harp licks for you to practise in the key of G (cross harp) on a C harmonica in second position. These exercises have been developed as an extensive drill for the intermediate and upper-intermediate level harmonica players.

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Harmonica lesson: learn 6 cool swing riffs and licks

My particular intention while creating these exercises was to focus on the involvement of the ‘swing’ feeling – a typical quality of jazz music. In addition to this, I’ve inserted such notes that make use of bending and some phrases of medium length too.

Jazzists have always loved performing long musical sentences alternating with moments of pauses and passages quite rhythmically, sometimes to the verge of getting hiccups.

About the notes manipulated...,they came mostly from the major and the pentatonic G scale. I’ve added some chromatic passages at some points also. The use of chromatic movements is another distinguishing characteristic of the genre known as Jazz, from which swing is derived.

For each lick, you’ll be provided an interactive video lesson as well as the tab that indicates the harmonica holes along with the notes that you’ll be playing. Even if you don’t have a C harmonica, you may practise exercises without using the backing track: a medium tempo swing-beat.

Following is the analysis of each lick for today:

In lick 1, we’ll start on the 3rd degree of note B in the second position scale G. Here we’ll play eight notes creating the ‘swing’ feeling. The lick shall end on the same note B where it started.

Harmonica lesson: swing lick tablature 1

In the second lick, we’ll start playing on the upbeat and will develop a couple of two-note combinations of notes B and D, holes 3 and 4 draw. In measure 2, we bend hole 3 draw a whole-tone to play the note A, 2nd degree of the scale. The combination A and G will be played twice.

Harmonica lesson: swing lick tablature 2
New harmonica course

The third lick starts on the root note G with a triplet. In the second measure, as the melody goes up to hole 8, I’ll play another triplet consisting of notes B and D.

Harmonica lesson: swing lick tablature 3

In lick 4, we’ll start playing on the upbeat again, this time we’ll use high holes to play a more complex melody.

Harmonica lesson: swing lick tablature 4

Lick 5: here we bend hole 2 draw, half-tone to get the F sharp note, i.e. Major 7th degree of the key ‘G’. In measure 2, we also bend hole 4 draw to play the D flat note and perform this chromatic passage.

Harmonica lesson: swing lick tablature 5

In the last exercise we shall play more rhythmically using some pauses also. In measure 2, we bend hole 2 draw to play again F#. We’ll end the lick on the lower harmonica hole.

Harmonica lesson: swing lick tablature 6

In the following video, you can practise the whole harmonica licks sequence:

I am sure, you must have joyously practised with me today. I hope to see you in the next free lesson which you may find on harmonicalearning.com

Keep harpin’ and enjoy playing music!