The Harmonica According To Charlie Musselwhite

By Michael Rubin

Written by Michael Rubin on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, Harmonica Players

Musselwhite woke a lot of people up to playing in multiple positions i.e. using one harp to play in multiple keys. Here are some of his songs and the key, harp, and position they are played in…

Song titles, keys, harps and positions…

Harpin’ On A Riff Key of G, C harp, 2nd position

Run Here Mama Key of F, Bb harp, 2nd position

Tuff Key of D, G harp, 2nd position

Pistol in Your Face Key of A, D harp, 2nd position

Azul Para Amparo Key of A, C harp, 4th position

Blues All Night Key of F, Bb harp, 2nd position

Fast Life Blues Key of E, A harp, 2nd position

Way I Feel Key of Am, G harp, 3rd position

Chicago Sunset Key of G, C harp, 2nd position

Blues in the Dark Key of D, C chromatic, 3rd position

Shelby County Blues Key of A, D harp, 2nd position, A harp first

Scufflin Key of A, G harp, 3rd position, A harp, 1st position

Hard Times Key of F, Bb harp, 2nd position

An American can tell which person is from Boston and Alabama when each person speaks. An advanced harp player can tell which position a player is in.

9 of the songs listed use the most common position, 2nd.

In Run Here Mama, Musselwhite does an unusual high note 2nd position solo. Normally this style of playing is done in first position.
Key of F, Bb harp, 2nd position

In Way I Feel, 3rd position can be played in major blues but specializes in minor blues. Listen to all of the octaves, a good clue you may be listening to 3rd!
Key of Am, G harp, 3rd position

Listen to Blues in the Dark, once you master 3rd position on a diatonic it is a short jump to 3rd position on a chromatic.
Key of D, C chromatic, 3rd position

In Scuffling, listen to him switch from a G harp in 3rd position to an A harp in 1st position in the third verse and back on the last verse.
Key of A, G harp, 3rd position, A harp, 1st position

Listen to Azul Para Amparo. 4th position is very uncommon. See how it creates a Spanish flavor.
Key of A, C harp, 4th position

I hope you are enjoying these as much as I am.
Michael Rubin

Comments (10)

  • Rishió

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    “Azul Para Amparo Key of A, C harp, 4th position”

    Shouldn’t 4th position on a C harp be A-minor?

    Reply

  • Dave Spencer

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    Been. A fan of Charle Muslewhite since the 60s . He plays a track on an album “Cristo Redentor by Harvey Mandel. The track is ” The Lark” first time I’d ever heard of him. He’s Ben blowin’ me away ever since And I bougly the album in 69 . Nice artical, thank you.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

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      I so glad you enjoyed it Dave! jp

      Reply

  • Brian Jones

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    Very informative

    Reply

  • Michael Buntin

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    I play harmonica and I am always seeking more and improvement. This is good stuff. Tx.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

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      Glad you enjoyed! jp

      Reply

  • Dave Thompson

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    Nice article about one of my favorite blues legends. Charlie’s position playing really sets him apart. Trying to figure out a solo can be challenging … especially when you’re trying to figure out what harp he’s using!

    Reply

  • Adam

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    Help please.. can’t figure out harp key on “This old nightlife” Is it Bb ? There is a lot of bending in there

    Reply

  • Acker

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    I find these very good, as you’re given which harp and starting point, great to play along to and improvise as well.
    Thanks very much.
    Acker

    Reply

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