HARMONICA COURSE: 15 CLASSIC BLUES SOLOS BY THE HARMONICA MASTERS

New blues harmonica course: 15 classic solos

This course is part of the series of online courses focused on the great harmonica artists. We have designed these lessons to give you the opportunity to learn how to play some of the greatest blues harmonica classic tunes.

Visit the Course list page to get this course!

Welcome to this new harmonica course!

These 15 lessons are dedicated to Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, Slim Harpo, Sonny Terry, and Howlin’ Wolf.

With this series of videos, you'll be directed to learn how to play music like some of the greatest solos produced by renowned blues harmonica players, we find in the history of this small instrument; for instance: 'the mississippi saxopone'. You will locate a song tab in each lesson to practice alongside me via the interactive video. 

In these lessons, together with some licks and tunes, I'm going to teach some technique oriented harmonica exercises to help you develop dexterity, speed, bending capabilities, besides some advanced features of tongue blocking technique. Watch the videos and learn with the tabs.

Harmonica played in the videos: C(6 songs), A(4 songs), Bb(3 songs), G(2 songs) 

COURSE SONG LIST AND DESCRIPTION

'Saint Louis Blues

In this intermediate level harmonica lesson, you will learn to play a real cool and well know blues, called ‘Saint Louis Blues’. 

When it comes to blues and jazz standards written before 1920, none has enjoyed more recordings by jazz artists than W.C. Handy’s classic, ‘St. Louis Blues.’ Considered the most famous blues composition, the song was the most-recorded of all time from the 1930.

Intermediate level harmonica players should enjoy learning this song, a great way to practice blues in 2nd position.

We’ll play the song with a C harmonica, in 2nd position. The song key is G, and in the included video on this page you’ll find the tab on which the harmonica holes are notated. Follow my indications and play after having listened to me! No talking in these harmonica lesson series, just playing, learning and having fun.

Song analysis:

Playing difficult: Intermediate harmonica level.

Note bending skills: Draw bending on holes 2 and 3.

Lesson focus: Playing the blues scale, integrating blues riffs and melodic blues licks on the low end harmonica notes.


Big Walter Horton Style - Boogie

In this intermediate level harmonica lesson, I’m going to teach you a cool boogie progression in the style of Big Walter Horton. In this exercise we’ll apply some tongue blocking features that provide a nice rhythmic sound formed of chords and melodies.

You’ll practice with me the licks and the chugging patterns that form the blues chorus sections and play them on the provided video tutorial.

Walter Horton, better known as Big Walter (Horton) or Walter ‘Shakey’ Horton, was born on April 6, 1921. He was an American blues harmonica player. A quiet, unassuming, shy man, he is remembered as one of the premier harmonica players in the history of blues. 

Horton’s harmonica style was more sweet toned and less dynamic than other harmonica players, his solos seemed to ‘soothe the soul’.

Intermediate level harmonica players should enjoy learning this blues harp boogie sequence, a great way to practice blues in 2nd position.

We will use a A harmonica and play in 2nd position. The song key is E, and in the included video on this page you’ll find the tab on which the harmonica holes are notated. Follow my indications and play after having listened to me! No talking in these harmonica lesson series, just playing, learning and having fun.


Little Walter - Ah'w Baby

In this intermediate level harmonica lesson, I’m going to teach you a Little Walter blues solo, the one that opens the song entitled Ah’w Baby. This song was issued in 1960, in the album called Boss Blues Harmonica.

In this lesson we’ll apply some tongue blocking features that provide a nice rhythmic sound formed of chords and melodies. 

You’ll practice with me the licks that form the blues chorus sections and play them on the provided video tutorial.

Intermediate level harmonica players should enjoy learning this blues harp solo sequence, improving the way they play the blues in second position, also known as ‘cross harp’.

We’ll perform this track we using a C harmonica and play in 2nd position, the song key is G. 

Song analysis:

Playing difficult: Intermediate harmonica level.

Note bending skills: Draw bending on holes 2 and 3.

Lesson focus: Playing the blues scale, integrating blues riffs and melodic blues licks on the low end harmonica notes; Tongue blocking technique features like slaps and pulls, rhythmic harmonica playing.


Little Walter - Dead Presidents

In this intermediate level harmonica lesson, I’m going to teach you another Little Walter blues solo, the one he played in the song named Dead Presidents. This song was issued in 1964, and it wasn’t part of any album.

Also In this lesson we’ll perform some very common tongue blocking features that provide a great sound, where rhythmic and melodic elements are played together.

  Intermediate level harmonica players will enjoy learning this blues harp solo by one of the most rewarded harmonica players, improving the way they play the blues in second position, aka the cross harp. 

For this lesson we’ll use a B flat harmonica, like in the original Little Walter song, and play in 2nd position; the song key is F.

Song analysis:

Playing difficult: Intermediate harmonica level.

Note bending skills: Draw bending on holes 2 and 3.

Lesson focus: Playing the blues scale, integrating blues riffs and melodic blues licks on the low end harmonica notes; Tongue blocking technique features like slaps and pulls, rhythmic harmonica playing and glissando effect.

Little Walter - Key to the Highway

I’m going to teach you a cool Little Walter harp solo, performed by the great harmonica master in the song known as Key to the highway. This song was issued in 1958 By checker, US .

Also In this online lesson we’ll perform some very common tongue blocking features that provide a great rhythm, taking advantage of this technique nuance, where chords and melodic elements work together. 

You’ll practice with me the licks that form the blues chorus sections.

For this song, we’ll use a C harmonica like in the original Little Walter performance, and play it in 2nd position.

The song key is G.

Little Walter - Last Night

I’m pleased to teach you how to play another great Little Walter harmonica solo, performed by this harmonica master in the song known with the name Last night. This track was issued in 1954 By checker, US.

We are going to perform also in this lesson some tongue blocking techniques that provide a great rhythm feel, taking advantage of this technique features, where chords and melodic elements work together. 

You’ll play with me the licks that form the blues chorus sections.

We’ll use a G harmonica like in the original Little Walter song, and play it in 2nd position.

The song key is D.

Song analysis:

Playing difficult: Intermediate harmonica level.

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

Lesson focus: Playing the blues scale, integrating blues riffs and melodic blues licks on the low end harmonica notes; Tongue blocking technique features like slaps and pulls, rhythmic harmonica playing and glissando effect. Shake or warlbe playing, flutter tongue execution.

Big Walter Horton - Christine

In this lesson I’m going to teach you how to play a quite challenging but real cool harmonica solo. This time we’ll study the intro solo of ‘Christine’ as performed by the great Big Walter Horton ‘Shakey’, in this song issued in 1974, where he was playing with Carey Bell.

With this lesson you are going to improve your tongue blocking skills, like playing slaps, pulls, shakes and tongue flutter; all techniques that will improve your blues harp performances, sounding more powerful and professional.

You’ll practice with me the licks that form the intro and the blues chorus sections.

Intermediate level harmonica players are going to take advantage of this lesson, learning another harmonica solo, by one of the most rewarded players. Once again we’ll play in second position, also know as the ‘cross harp’.

We’ll use a C harmonica like in the original Shakey record, and the song is in the key of G.

Song analysis:

Playing difficult: Intermediate level harmonica lesson.

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

Lesson focus: This lesson will improve your fast playing. You’ll practice playing the blues scale, integrating blues riffs and melodic blues licks on the low end harmonica notes; Tongue blocking technique features like slaps and pulls, rhythmic harmonica playing and glissando effect.

Others skills trained with this song: Shake or warlbe playing, flutter tongue execution and vibrato effect.

Slim Harpo - I got love if you want it

In this lesson, I’m going to teach you how to play a nice and easy blues harmonica solo: we’ll learn the intro played by Slim Harpo in the song known as ‘I got love if you want it’. Slim Harpo harmonica solos are pretty much easy to play, and his simple and clean style became real recognizable.

Together with the blues song, you’ll study today some tongue blocking articulations known as slaps and pulls; at the end of the video lesson you’ll find an example of these important tongue blocking elements.

  You’ll practise with me the licks that form the song intro. 

Upper-Beginner and intermediate level harmonica players are going to enjoy this lesson, learning an easy harmonica solo, by one of the most rewarded artists.

We are going to play a Bb harmonica in 2nd position.

This song is in the key of F, and in the provided video, you’ll find the tabs on which the harmonica holes are notated. Follow my indications and play after having listened to me! As usual in this series, no talking! Just playing, learning and having fun.

Song analysis:

Playing difficult: Beginner to intermediate level harmonica players.

Note bending skills: Draw bending on holes 2 and 3.

Lesson focus: You’ll practise playing the blues scale, integrating blues riffs and melodic blues licks on the low end harmonica notes; Tongue blocking technique features like slaps and pulls for a rhythmic harmonica playing.

Slim Harpo - Raining in my heart

Here you’re going to learn a new Slim Harpo solo, the one performed in the song known as ‘Raining in my heart’. Slim Harpo’s harmonica solos are often easy to play, however in this lesson I added some embellishments, making use of the tongue blocking technique.

Together with this cool blues solo, you’ll practise with me slaps and pulls, split notes playing like octaves, as well as notes bending and tongue flutter.

I’ll teach you the licks that form the song intro, that shape a real blues chorus, then you’ll practise them on the provided interactive video. This is an easy harmonica solo, by one of the most rewarded and recognizable artist.

We are going to play a C harmonica in 2nd position, and the song is in the key of G.

Song analysis:

Playing difficult: Beginner to intermediate level harmonica players.

Note bending skills: Draw bending on holes 2 and 3.

Lesson focus: You’ll practise playing the blues scale, integrating blues riffs and melodic blues licks on the low end harmonica notes; Tongue blocking technique features like slaps and pulls for a rhythmic harmonica playing. Others tongue blocking features used in this lesson are tongue flutter, octave playing and tremolo effect. 

Sonny Terry Style - Chugging

Welcome back to harmonica lesson series! Today you’re going to learn a chugging sequence, in the style of Sonny Terry, and train yourself to play solo harmonica, a fun way to alternate chords and melodies. Together with this cool tongue blocking vamping solo, you’ll practice with me glissandos, double note combinations, as well as tongue flutters and dip bends.

I’ll teach you these licks and you are going to play them them on the provided interactive video.

Intermediate level harmonica players are going to enjoy this exercise, learning a cool rhythm and melodies song, played in 2nd position; the song is in the key of E .

Song analysis:

Playing difficult: Intermediate level harmonica players.

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

Lesson focus: Learn to alternate chords and melodies, fast rhythm playing, draw bendings and blues scale practicing. Tongue flutters and glissandos.


Slim Harpo - Something inside me

In this intermediate tongue blocking harmonica lesson, you're going to learn another beautiful and straightforward Slim Harpo solo, the one he performed in the song known as 'Something inside me.' I liked to analyze this artist and his harmonica licks, and I think they represent a great example of essential blues harp playing. Slim Harpo style is clear and shows what it means to play with an excellent rounded tone and with the correct timing. 

In following this lesson, you'll practice once again slaps, pulls, notes bending, as well as the tremolo. Tongue blocking features will also be used in this song.

I'll teach you the licks that form the song intro blues chorus, and we are going to play a C harmonica in 2nd position.

The song is in the key of G.

Slim Harpo - Don't Start Crying now

Here we are with a new tongue blocking harmonica lesson, in which you’ll learn to perform a great solo by Slim Harpo; the song name is ‘Don’t start crying now’ and we are going to study the double blues chorus that forms the solo. This time the song speed is quite high!

I enjoy playing and teaching this stuff, and I think it represents a great example of essential but useful blues harp playing. Slim Harpo style is often about playing a few notes, but with an excellent full tone and showing a strong timing sense. This particular song is a quite fast blues.

We are going to play a Bb harmonica in 2nd position, and the song is in the key of F major.

Song analysis:

Playing difficult: Intermediate level harmonica players.

Note bending skills: Draw bending on holes 2 and 3 and 4.

Lesson focus: Playing fast licks, playing the blues scale with bent notes on the first four harmonica holes, tongue blocking articulations, vibrato, and tremolo effects.

Slim Harpo - One more day

This is a harmonica tongue blocking blues song called ‘One more day,’ performed by Slim Harpo. Also, this song contains few notes, but conveys a strong timing sense to the listener. Simple melodies, repetition, and full rounded tone, these are the elements that Slim Harpo shows in each composition.

In following this lesson, you’ll practice bending, tongue blocking features, blues routines, and turnarounds. Join me in the video lesson and play the licks, the slaps, pulls, and all the features that make the tongue blocking a cool way to play harmonica.

We are going to play an A harmonica in 2nd position, considering the song is in the key of E major.

Song analysis:

Playing difficulty level: Intermediate level harmonica players.

Note bending skills: Draw bending on holes 2 and 3 and 4.

Lesson focus: Note bending on draw holes, blues scale playing, dip bending, and tongue blocking articulations.


Howlin’ Wolf - I’ve been abused

In this advanced tongue blocking lesson, I’m going to teach you a quite challenging solo, as played by Howlin’ Wolf in the song called ‘I’ve been abused.’ This lesson is intended for students able to play bends, fast licks, as well as some effects like the glissando, dip bends, pulls, slaps, all part of this solo performance study.

We are going to play a G harmonica in 2nd position to perform this D key song.

Song analysis:

Playing difficulty level: Advanced harmonica players.

Note bending skills: Draw bending on holes 3 and 4.

Lesson focus: Fast licks playing, blues scale patterns, dip bends, bending on draw holes. Execution of Glissando effect.

Bonus Song by the author, New Horizons bending song.

As you know, we can play draw bends on holes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6, whereas on holes 8, 9 and 10 we should blow to get the extra notes. In following this exercise you will also play some split notes like octaves, typical of tongue blocking.

The song is in the key of A major and we are going to use an A harmonica, playing in first position. In this exercise we’ll use the notes of the major scale, as well as some chromatic tones, those that actually permits us to train the bending.

The bent notes you’ll play today are:

Half-step bend on holes 1, 4 and 6 draw.

Half-step and whole-tone bend on holes 2 and 3 draw-

Half-step bend on holes 8 and 9 blow.

Song analysis:

Playing difficult: Upper Intermediate level harmonica players.

Note bending skills: Holes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 draw, as well as 8 and 9 blow bending.

Lesson focus: Playing bent notes in the context of the musical phrases, split notes and octaves.

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