HARMONICA LESSON: CHUGGING, VAMPING AND TRAIN IMITATION - LEARN HOW TO PLAY CHORDS AND MELODIES TOGETHER

Today I want to introduce beginner harmonica players to ‘Chugging’, also named as ‘Vamping’. This form of playing with harmonica is also termed as 'Solo Harmonica'.

The five exercises I designed for you in this lesson, will give you some basic techniques, and you will practise with me what will become the foundation of your rhythm blues harp playing. In other words, you will start to learn how to play chords and melodies together, accompanying yourself.

Before we start, have a look at my online harmonica chugging and train imitation course here.

Harmonica vamping lesson - Learn how to play chords and melodies

Throughout all chords and melody patterns, if you can play notes with bending technique, you will get fun in playing these licks and the more complex combinations, however, if you are unsuccessful in carrying out this altogether, no worries, this lesson will fit the same your needs. In just one of the exercises in the lesson, I used some tongue blocking features; again, you can use consonants to imitate the sound if you don’t tongue block notes.

For the most, the chugging patterns here are developed on the G pentatonic scale. This scale is really effective for playing in second position, and it is formed by the notes G, A, B, D and E.

To play in G in second position, you'll need a C harmonica. Here you can find one.

Some of the combinations shown in this lesson will become useful for you if you want to imitate the train sound, owing to the fact that this type of execution is closely linked with 'Vamping'.

Here are the 5 exercise, now let’s practise them with the interactive lesson videos:

In the first exercise, we play chords on holes 1, 2 and 3, draw and blow. When you see ‘x2’ it means that in the same quarter or eighth you should play the combination twice. For example, 123x2 means 123, 123. In measure 1, beat 4, the pattern is quite complex; practice slow first.

In measure 2 you’ll also play a double note combination on holes 3 and 4 draw.

Harmonica chigging pattern exercise 1

The second exercise is based on adding small single-note melodies to the chords. This might be a start up for you to become a 'solo harmonica' performer. In measure 1 we play first the chords and then in beat 4 the two note sequence.

Harmonica vamping pattern exercise 2

Also in the third chugging pattern we play chords and some single note.

Solo Harmonica exercise 3

In exercise 4, more single notes will be inserted between the chords. The resulting pattern would be more complex and the sound would become more skilled.

Harmonica chigging exercise 4

To carry out the last exercise, we'll apply common tongue blocking techniques like slaps and pulls. If you face any difficulty in conducting these special elocutions, don't lose heart, just keep playing the way you possibly can, listen carefully how it sounds like when I execute them and and follow my foot steps.

Harmonica vamping exercise 5

Following, the whole patterns sequence practising routine:

New harmonica course

Now that you've learned how to play the a bit of 'solo harmonica', you may use all such techniques when performing with others. You can also play a simple train rhythm and follow it.  I'm pretty much sure that by this time, you would be feeling a step ahead in your efforts to become an adept harmonica player. See you in the next lesson! 

Online harmonica school

If you want to get to our school, click on the image here. You can enroll for FREE and have a look at the course curriculums.