Once again this week, I’m exploring the benefits of creating musical boundaries.
Just for fun, I decided that I would try to write a song using just 4 different pitches. Spending my time lately hanging around hole #3, I knew that that’s where this new song needed to happen. I would allow myself only 4 pitches: 3-blow, 3-draw bend, 3-draw and 4-draw. I’d never written a 4-note song before, but I had a great time doing it.
I’ve spent my whole life playing the harmonica, but I’ve always avoided playing melodies on the low end of the harp. I’ve mainly been a rhythm player and I use the low notes for big chords, sweet rhythms and a few bluesy riffs. I never got 3-draw bend to sound pretty enough to use in a melody. Ever since last week’s blog, I’ve been fascinated with 3-draw bend. I’ve been practicing.
When we play in 2nd position (also known as cross harp), 3-blow is our “home base”. In musical terms, it’s called “Do” (pronounced “doe”). When you sing the first three pitches of the song, Three Blind Mice, you are singing “mi, re, do”. The phrase ends on the home note. In order to play “three blind mice” in cross harp, we play 3- draw and then we have to pull 3-draw down a whole step — from “mi” all the way down to “re” — it’s quite a bend. That’s what I’ve been practicing.
So, I wrote a song for you. It’s a bluesy little number called, You Make Me a Lovin’ Man. I imagine it won’t be easy for many of you, but the work you put into it will pay off big time. Have fun and let me know how it goes.
In this video I’m using an “A” key Harmonica. Don’t have an “A”? You can get one (and explore the other great keys!) by choosing this highly recommended 5-set of Special 20’s
Article by Hal Walker