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Author Topic: Playing to bluesy jazz tracks  (Read 929 times)


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Playing to bluesy jazz tracks
« on: February 19, 2014, 02:59:51 PM »
Stan asked a good question about Storyville Postcards (Basin Street Blues).  He asked if it was easy to play to.  I think the answer is yes, but I wasn't sure how to explain that.  Maybe others here with better knowledge can help.  I always hear people say to use the blues scale.  I tried that and it did not sound good to me.  So I used a typical 2nd position Bb harp with the F key song.  But I used the relative minor of F, which is D minor, and played the minor pentatonic scale, but resolving on F.  It sounded better to me, but as I've often said, my ear sux.  So I could be completely wrong.  BTW, go to Tinus' and the scale finder will show you a harp layout of any scale you might want to use.  I have a feeling people will say again to use the blues scale.  I'm not sure why it didn't sound right to me.  Any ideas certainly welcome!

Oh yeah, here's the chords as well.  Tinus' site will also show you a harp layout of the notes in any chord, I have used it to 'compose' solos, so to speak.  Real musicians probably use it differently:

G7///C7///F/Fdim/Gm/C7/ End on F



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Re: Playing to bluesy jazz tracks
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2014, 04:48:31 PM »
My input may be broad and vague at the same time.......

When playing harmonica most people default to the blues scale and most don't actually understand what that is supposed to be they actually consider their licks the blues scale. I was a predominantly sax player when I was younger and learned all my scales, but in truth I haven't worked on scales since high school. I play a lot of guitar and I think a common approach to guitar soloing can be applied to harmonica. In teaching guitar I usually go over the "boxes" which include the blues scale now "boxes" aren't necessarily scales but available notes within a defined area you usually are missing a few notes from the full scale.

Now unless you are a overblow and overdraw expert you aren't going to pull off playing in all twelve keys on a single diatonic harp like Howard Levy, but virtually any song can be played in second position on a harp which is by far the most common position. You just cant approach every song the same way the three most common in my mind are bright, dark, and minor. Quick examples (without overdraws or overbends) of what not to play in a minor like "Blues for the Last Guy in the Bar" don't play 2 blow (use 2 draw bent instead) , 3 draw unbent or 5 blow, anything else up through 6 is ok anything above the six is tricky to explain quickly. Dark is almost exactly the same with the exception being you can play 5 blow in runs just don't hang on it, but you can "get away with the other notes without it sounding bad" I would play dark on a song like "First Set Shuffle". Bright you use more of a major sound 2 blow and 3 draw unbent (actually the 3 is usually slurred up from 3 first bend up to open) and five blow is now default with 5 draw an accent or blue note. I would approach Storyville Postcards with the bright box.

These are kinda' my 2nd position boxes on the harp. Anything can be played in these boxes but to say Jazz, Blues, Rock, Country, or Gospel is anyone of them would be a mistake it is really song by song. I hope I was at least as clear as mud!
« Last Edit: February 19, 2014, 10:16:18 PM by RevJTBlues »