Advanced Blues Techniques

You now have the basic tools needed for blues. You should join blues jams with confidence, particularly after practising with the blues backings. Hopefully you've had the chance to watch a great blues harmonica player. If so, you may have heard many techniques not yet covered. Junior year fills some of these gaps.

Tone is a defining characteristic of great players, who can play a single note and move listeners. A major aspect of this sound is vibrato. It takes a long time to develop, and each player has their own version. This year provides the background for you to develop your own sound.

The harmonica is one of few wind instruments that allows chords. In particular there are many octaves on the instrument, which add great power to the sound. We learn these.

The tunes modules spend much time on scales. Now that the basic bends are known, we learn the blues scale. This adds depth to your blues solos, and helps prevent them sounding thin.

Now that bends at the bottom of the instrument are (hopefully) under control, we now focus on the blow bends at the top. These are challenging, but powerful.

The Internet has created a wonderful community of harmonica players. An excellent place for developing players is the Harmonica Boogie website, where players download backing tracks, record their solos and submit them to the site. It is a friendly place, with many beginning contributors, as well as some marvellous professionals. If you have not yet done so, check out the recording page, and try your own. You may be pleasantly surprised.