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Learn how to play harmonica with an easy Irish song

Hi and welcome to my harmonica school! Today’s lesson focuses on tongue blocking: we are going to learn a nice Irish style tune called ‘Stout’. You will practise with me on the interactive video below on this page, but first I would like to introduce the lesson and its benefits!

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One of the great tongue blocking features is that it permits to play with a stronger attack, even the single notes, and It is proven that it generates a fatter tone. Slaps, pulls, flutter tongue, all these specific tongue blocking features contributes to reach that characteristic sound loved by many harmonica players.

In following this lesson, you will improve your playing in first position, where the notes of the major scale are used to produce the melodies. Together with the major scale, we’ll play some cool note patterns like triplets, and will take benefit of the tongue blocking, emulating two harmonicas playing at the same time. This kind of execution is common in popular tunes, as well in Irish songs, owing the fact that very often they are played in 1st position, where we have the possibility to play the 1st degree chord and the 5th degree chord. For example, on an A harmonica we can play an A major chord on holes 1, 2 and 3 blow, whereas we find an E major chord on holes 1, 2 and 3 draw.

Many folk songs make use of few chords, and often they are exactly those of the first and the fifth degree, where the last one resolves on the former.

In this lesson I used an 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. The harmonica model I’m playing is a Special 20, by Hohner.

Song analysis:

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

Note bending skills: No bending required.

Lesson focus: Playing the major scale and triplets. Phrasing incorporating tongue blocking features like the tongue flutter, pulls and slaps.

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:

3+ .ft4+ .4+ 4 .5

ft4 .4+ .4

5+ .4 .4+ .4 .5+ .4+


.ft4+ .4+ .4 .5

.ft4 .4+ .4

5+ .4 .4+ .4 .5+ .4+


.6 .5+ .6+

.ft6 .ft6+

.5+ .4 .5+

.ft4 .ft5+

.ft7+, .7 .6 .6+

.ft6+ .ft5+

.5+ .6+ .5+ .4 .5+ .4


I thing you should have enjoyed learning this Irish tune on your harmonica. If you want to improve your skills, enroll for free in my online school harmonica courses here.

Keep practising and see you soon in a new lesson!

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