Learn to Play Hallelujah on Harmonica, Lesson with Tabs

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Allelujah on harmonica - Full lesson with tabs

Welcome to this new lesson. Today, I want to teach you a harmonica song that goes straight to your heart when you listen to it, and even more when you play it. Hallelujah, an ensemble of wonderful melodies, is supported by a genial chord progression. The harmony of this Leonard Cohen masterpiece is a great example of effective music composing.

In this lesson, you’ll really benefit from my play-along video system to practice the melodies with me and alone on the backing track. I’ve also provided the slow version of the videos to make your learning easier in the beginning. As usual, in the video, you’ll find the chords and the harmonica tabs, with both the note names and the hole numbers to play. Let’s start!

In this lesson, you’ll use a C harmonica and play in first position. If you want to use a different harmonica key, you can study using the tabs.

Before going deep into the lick analysis, it’s good practice to take a look at the chord progression. Remember that each note you play acquires a value depending on the underlying chord. The harmony and melody work together and produce what your brain gets, transforms it, and sends it directly to your heart, conveying emotions. What happens if you just learn the melodies of a song without understanding its harmonic progression? Well, it’s like if you had $1000 to spend in an hour, went into a shop, and bought a carton of milk, spending only one dollar; once the time was over, you’d lose $999 and it would feel as though you should have better spent your money. In other words, when you study something, try to get the most you can from it – I guarantee you that behind every song, there’s a whole world to discover. That’s my job – helping students to learn the harmonica better, faster, and while saving money, too. After all, as they say, time is money, right?

 Here the chords to Hallelujah:

C Am C Am F G C G

C F G Am, F G E7 Am Am

F C F C, G

C Am C Am

The refrain of Hallelujah is more soothing. It slowly calms everything down to end on the key root chord, C major.

As you can notice, the sole chord progression of this song sounds very nice. Add to it the melodies and now you know why this song is played everywhere in the world, and is also one of the most-played songs by buskers (I used to busk in my own city for a long time).

Let’s now analyze the Hallelujah melodies for the harmonica. Here are the notes:

E G G G, G A A A, E

G G G, G A A A, G 

A A, A A G G F G

G G, G G A A B G

C, A C C D C

D D, D E E E D D C, E G

A A, A G E E, E G

A A, A G E, F E D


And here are the tabs:

5+ 6+ 6+ 6+, 6+ 6 6 6, 5+

6+ 6+ 6+, 6+ 6 6 6, 6+

6 6, 6 6 6+ 6+ 5 6+

6+ 6+, 6+ 6+ 6 6 7 6+

7+, 6 7+ 7+ 8 7+

8 8, 8 8+ 8+ 8+ 8 8 7+, 5+ 6+

6 6, 6 6+ 5+ 5+, 5+ 6+

6 6, 6 6+ 5+, 5 5+ 4

Allelujah harmonicaa tabs - Original version

The melodies are built on the high harmonica holes, from 5 to 8, where you find all the C major scale notes you need to utilize. Try playing the licks adding a nice vibrato on the long notes and keeping the notes clean and smooth – this is a heart song and should be played with love! Hallelujah on the harmonica is not hard to play – most of the time, you move from one harmonica hole to the next. There’s only one spot where you should jump, which is where the refrain begins and you have to go from hole 7 blow to hole 5 blow. That’s it.

If you want to learn a more complex version of the song, here’s the version I created for you – take a look at the tabs:

5+ 6+ 5+ 6+ 
5+ 6+ 6 7+ 6
5+ 6+ 5+ 6+
7+ 7 6 7 6
6 6+ 6+ 5, 5 5+ 5+ 4
^4, 4+ 4 sh56+
5+ 6+, 5+ 6+ 5+
6 6 7 6+ 7+, 7+
8 7+ 8 8+
8, 8 8+, 8+ 9+ 8+ 8
8 8+ 7+, 5+ 6+
^6 6 7+ 6, 6 6+
5+ 6+ 5+, 25+ 36+
^6, ^6 6+ 6+ 5+ 6+
5+ 5 5+ 4+ 14, 14+

Allelujah harmonica tabs - Enhanced version

As you can see in the tabs, this time, you’ll play a dip bend on hole 4 draw, a shake on 2 and 5 blow, and some fast sixteenth note combinations. In the last part of the song, you’ll also perform some split notes – in particular, the octaves on the holes 2 and 5, as well as on 3 and 6 and holes 1 and 4. Give it a try and surprise your friends and family.

Now it’s time to practice! Follow the videos, have fun, and don’t forget to share this lesson with your harmonica buddies. See you soon!

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