Top 7 Country Harmonica Riffs (with Tabs)

By Alex Paclin

Written by Alex Paclin on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, Harmonica Tabs

1. Silver Bells

Silver Bells is a popular Christmas song composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans and covered by many famous artists including Charlie McCoy. Let’s cover the part with the echoing melody.

F harmonica, key of F, 1st position

2 -2” -2   -3” -3 4
-3 -3 4 -4   4 -3 4 3
2 -2” -2   -3” -3 4
-3 -3 4 -4   4 -3 4

2. Fox Chase

Fox Chase is a tune by Deford Bailey, American country music and blues star. He was the first performer to be introduced on the Grand Ole Opry and the first African-American performer on the show. This is a piece from National life Grand Ole Opry in 1967. Let’s cover two riffs from it.

G harmonica, key of D, 2nd position

-4 -34 -2 3 -23 3 -23 2
-4 -34 -2 3 -23 2 -23 3
-34 -34 -2 -3” -2  -3’ -3” -2 -34
-34 -34 3 -3″ -2   -3’ -3” -2 2 -1

3. Orange Blossom Special

Orange Blossom Special is originally a fiddle tune about the passenger train of the same name. This is a version by Johnny Cash featuring Charlie McCoy on harmonica. Mainly there are two motifs in the theme that are developed. Check it out in a slower speed.

F harmonica, key of F, 1st position

4 -4 5 4 -6 6 5 -4
4 -4 5 4 -6 6 5 -4
4 -4 5 4 -6 6 5 4 -5 -4 -4

6 -6 -7 7 -8 7 -7 -6
6 -6 -7 7 -8 7 -7 -6
6 -6 -7 7 -8 7 -7 -6
6 -6 6 -5 5 4 -4 -3

4 -4 5 4 -6 6 5 -4
4 -4 5 4 -6 6 5 -4
4 -4 5 4 -6 6 5 4 6 -6 -5

6 -6 7 8 -8 7 -7 -6
6 -5 6 5 -6 6 5 -5
5 -45 -5 -345 345

4. Soul Surfing

Soul Surfing is a tune from Somebody’s Comin’ album by Terry McMillan, American country musician who played harmonica and percussion. It’s a cool funky tune played on three harmonicas, where the main riff just modulates. Check it out.

C-Ab-Bb Harmonicas, keys of G-Eb-F, 2nd position

-2 -2 -2 -3 4 -4 -5 -4 -5 6

5. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry is a song by Hank Williams covered by Charlie McCoy on the self-named album. Although it’s more of a theme than a riff, it has a repetitive intro phrase.

C harmonica, key of G, 2nd position

-3   -3″ -2 -3   -2 -3   -3″ -2 -1
-2 -3   -3″ -2 -3   -3″ -2 -1
-2 4   4 4   -4 -4 -3’ -3” -2
-3 -4 -4   -3’ -3” -2 -3”
-2 -3’ -3” -2

6. Yaoussa

Yaoussa is a tune by Jean Jacques Milteau from his album Routes released in 1995. Harmonica here supports the melody played on guitars. Let’s check it out.

C harmonica, key of G, 2nd position

6 -5 5 -4 4 -3” -2

7. Tennessee Fried Chicken

It’s an uplifting tune with a fiddle and jew’s harp by Jean Jacques Milteau from the same album. There are three variations of the riff played in different order, let’s check them out.

G harmonica, key of D, 2nd position

-34 -2 2 1 -1 2 3 2 -1 2 3 2 -1 2 3
-34 -2 2 1 -1 2 3 2 -1 2 3 2 -2
-3 -2 5 4 -4 5 -4 -3 -2 2 1 -1 2 3
-3 -2 5 4 -4 5 -4 -3 -2 2 -1 -2
-3 6 -6 6 5 -4 4 -3 -2 2 1 -1 2 3
-3 6 -6 6 5 -4 4 -3 -2 2 -1 -2

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