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Learn how to chug on harmonica: Vamping time song lesson

Do you want to learn a cool harmonica chugging song? Here is the lesson for you! Today I’m going to teach you a blues tune I composed in order to make you to practise vamping on your harp. In this lesson, you’re going to play chords and melodies together, executing what is called 'Solo Harmonica playing’. The chord progression is a standard 12 bars blues and we’ll play also some tongue blocking easy slaps articulations.

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Remember Sonny Terry? His chugging technique is real strong and as a beginner harmonica player, you should focus on learning some basic chord patterns, on which we are going to add small melodies make everything sounding like a completed self-accompaniment playing.

As a start up for learning to play the chords, you may begin with articulating 'T', by touching upper palate of your mouth with your tongue, or the surface of harmonica holes in case you want to play by integrating the tongue blocking technique.

An alternative could be 'TA-KA', when playing double draw chords like 123, or you may go for 'TU-KU' when playing double blow chords such as l23+. There is no predefined rule for this, do it the way you feel comfortable with. I personally use the expression 'TU-KU TA-KA' when I play the ‘train rhythm’.

For this lesson we are going to use a A harmonica, but you can practise and learn the song also on a different key harp, owing the fact that we will not use any backing track for this study session. We play today in 2nd position and the song key is E major.

The harmonica model I’m playing is a Seydel 1847 classic.

Song analysis:

Playing difficulty level: Beginner and upper-beginner harmonica players.

Note bending skills: No bending required.

Lesson focus: Playing chords with a rhythmic feeling and to incorporate melodies within them. Tongue blocking slaps articulations.

How to read the video lesson tab:

How to read the video lesson tabs:

One plus symbol means to blow the harmonica hole.

An apostrophe means to bend the note of a half-tone.

A double apostrophe means to bend the note of a whole-tone.

A triple apostrophe means to bend the note of three steps.

A dot before the notes means to use tongue blocking articulations.

^ means playing the note with a ‘dip’ bending.

R before a note means reaching that note with a glissando effect.

Sh means ‘shake playing’ or ‘warlbe’.

Ft means ’Flutter tungue’ techinque.

P means ‘Pull technique’.

V means ‘Vibrato effect’

Tr means ‘Tremolo effect’.

Following the song tabs:

1 2+ 2  2, 123 123+x2 123x2

1 2+ 2  34^, 123 123+x2 123x2

1 2+ 2  2, 123 123+x2 123x2

3 4 3  2, 123 123+x2 123x2

1 2+ 2 1+, 123+x2 123+x2

2+ 3+ 2+ 4+, 234+x2 234+x2

4+ 3 2, 123 123+x2 123x2

1 2+ 3 2, 123 123+x2 123x2 

4 5+ 4 5 4, 123x2 123x2 123x2

1+ 123+ .2+ 12+ .2 1 2+ 2

2 123 123+x2 123x2 1 2+ 3

2 123 123+x2 123

I thing you should have enjoyed learning this chugging song on your harmonica. If you want to improve your skills, enroll for free and have a look to my online school armonica course here.

Keep practising and see you soon in a new lesson!

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