Arabic Music on the Blues Harmonica

By Brendan Power

Written by Brendan Power on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, Harmonica Lessons

This video shows you some exotic sounds that are lurking in your plain old bog standard 10 hole Richter harp. So far maybe you’ve been playing some Blues and stuff, but if you can bend notes then a whole world of other tonalities awaits.

It’s a lot easier than you think to come up with a completely fresh sound – in this case, a scale that’s widely used in Middle Eastern, Indian and Balkan music. It’s a beautiful tonality that creates a mysterious, soulful atmosphere – and it’s all there in your familiar harp.

All you have to do is use your existing bending technique to bend to a combination of notes that’s different to the ones you’re used to. You’l already be familiar with the half-tone bend on holes 1, 4 and 6 draw, plus the full-tone bend on hole 2. The only bend that you might not have used much before is the full 3 semitone bend on hole 3 draw.

In a way it’s EASIER to get than the other bends on hole 3: the blues semitone bend (flat third in 2nd Position), or the full-tone bend (used a lot in melodic Country-style playing). Check out the Pentatonic scales video I did for JP Allen to hear and nail the difference between those two common 3 hole draw bends.

Now we’re going for the full tone-and-a-half bend on hole 3. No need to stop bending part of the way – take it down to the floor and it will sound right for the Arabic scale.

Follow along with me as I take you in baby steps on a journey into an ancient sonic landscape that sounds really good on the harp. I start slow and all the notes are written on the screen, so you should have no trouble playing along. Enjoy!

Brendan Power

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