In this series of lessons on playing different harmonica positions, we will focus again on 2nd position. Also this week you will learn 6 great blues harmonica licks, especially designed for the enthusiast players.
Everyone knows the second position, also called the ‘cross Harp’ and I’m pretty much sure that all the harmonica players, even if beginners, know the blues scale. In today’s lesson, we will not only use the notes of this scale, but in the exercises presented to you, I have also introduced the use of the pentatonic scale and some chromatic passages.
Owing the fact that this tutorial is intended for intermediate level students, in musical phrases we will also apply some techniques typical of tongue blocking such as slaps and pulls. If you are not yet able to perform these particular techniques, don’t be discouraged, you can use phonetic articulations such as ‘tu’, ‘ku’, ‘ta’ and ‘ka’ and so on, to reproduce what you listen in the video lesson. Remember that these exercises are designed with my interactive methodology, where you can listen and repeat the licks in real time. You can see for yourself how effective this way of learning is.
For the following exercises, we’ll play a C harmonica on a G backing track.
No more talk, now it’s time to practise!
In exercise 1 we start with a bent note, in particular on hole 3 draw, half-step bending. On beat 3 of measure 1 we also play a hole 2 whole-tone bend to get the note F. The passage F to D is quick. In measure 2 we play a double note combination B flat and D flat, holes 3 and 4 draw with one-step bend.
In lick 2 we move up to hole 5 in measure 1, whereas in measure 2 we play two triplets, with bending on hole 3 draw. We bend it at first of a half-tone, then a whole-tone to play the note A. We end the lick with a ‘dip’ on the B and D note combination.
In the third exercise, we start with a triplet, then we bend hole 3 draw to get the note B flat. Pay attention to the ‘slap’ on the note D octave. In measure two we again use some tongue blocking articulation on the octaves.
In lick 4 we bend hole 4, 3 and 2 to play the notes D flat, B flat and natural F. The lick ends with a double note combination. While executing this exercise, try to focus on playing with the ‘swing’ feeling. The swing is about the note timing, and it is a very effective jazz feature.
In lick 5 we play several triplets in a row, working more on the middle of the instrument extension.
In this last exercise we execute what we are known as a ‘call and response’ licks. Measure two phrase is the ‘answer’ to the first measure ‘question.’ The ‘call and answer’ technique is real common in blues playing.
Following, the whole licks sequence practising routine:
I hope you enjoyed practising with me in this lesson, see you on these pages soon!
If you want to comment this lesson use the contact form available here.
First of all, thanks for the licks. You are amazing, I got a problem on the exercise 2 in
which you repeat to bend hole 3, how do you suddenly clearly transition into 2 blow after it?
Great harmonica licks lesson! I am using a Hohner Marine Band Crossover. I also like the
Fender Blues Deluxe Harps. Thanks for teaching us these, I really enjoy playing high pitched riffs.
Great methodology! The exercises are clear and the videos make the practising funny and effective. After playing for a year, I realize that some simple riffs like these are what I should
have been working more on, and just practicing to make them sound better and better. Thank you for this.