Learn bending on harmonica with the hooks

Welcome back! In this harmonica lesson, today, you're going to learn a beautiful and easy harmonica song called 'Hooks,' focused on bending. In practicing this tune, you'll play a very known riff that works to catch the listener's ear. The selected lick contains a bent note on hole 3 draw, the blue note of the blues scale. A great example of hook known by everybody is the trademark lick in the song 'Mannish Boy' by the great artist Muddy Waters.

Don't you own a harmonica yet? You can find a good instrument here.

Most of the time, when we play the hook, we use it to fill up the spaces between the singer phrases, or to engage in a call and response routine with other musicians. Remember that a sturdy hook can really enter your mind and live there for days once you listened to it!

Below on this page, you'll find the interactive video with tabs on which you can listen to me and to practice the song. In this bending study, the 'call' sentences are expressed by the hook lick, whereas the responses come from some other blues elements like shakes, double note combinations, some additional bent notes, and so on. Basically, the hook remains always the same, and the answers change.

We are going to use today an A harp, and we'll play in second position, the song key is then E major. If you don't have an A harp, you can use a different key instrument, follow the lesson and read the tabs. I'm playing a Hohner Special 20 in the provided video.

Song analysis:

Playing difficulty level: Beginner harmonica players.

Note bending skills: Bending on holes 1,2 3 and 4.

Lesson focus: Hooks playing, to generate call and response routine, to play bends on the first four harmonica holes and melodies up to hole 6.

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 ‘warble.’

Ft means the ’Flutter tongue’ technique.

P means ‘Pull technique.’

V means ‘Vibrato effect.’ 

Tr means ‘Tremolo effect.’ 

Here is the tablature of the song:

.2 .4+ 2 3’ 2, .tr2

.2 .4+ 2 3’ 2, tr34^

.2 .4+ 2 3’ 2, p 2 2’’

.2 .4+ 2 3’ 2, p sh45

.2 .4+ 2 3’ 2, 2^ 2’’ 1 2

.2 .4+ 2 3’ 2, 1’ 1 2’’

.2 .4+ 2 3’ 2, 4’ 4 5 4

.2 .4+ 2 3’ 2, 6+ 5 4 6+

.2 .4+ 2 3’ 2

I hope you enjoyed learning this bending song in which you played hooks on your harmonica. If you want to improve your playing skills, enroll for free in my online school, and have a look at the courses here. I'll see you in the next lesson!

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