Are You Doing Blues Harmonica Wrong?

Wherever you’re at, here’s the simplest way turbo-charge your blues harmonica licks without learning a single new technique. Ready?

Play with…. More…. EMOTION.

That’s it. The Blues is about emotion, plain and simple. B.B. King was not the greatest technical guitar player on the planet. Hundreds of thousands of guitar players could play faster and know more scales and yada yada yada, but….when B.B. plays, we feel it.

Here’s me playing some licks with minimal emotion, in the first half of the video. Sounds ok, but something’s missing, right? Watch the rest of the video and hear the difference of me bleeding emotion into every note. Night and day.

Here’s how I do the blues:

1. Use frustration or pain you’ve been feeling, think about that, and imagine all that emotion flowing into your instrument as you’re playing. Not only will this be cathartic for you, but people who hear you will feel your emotion and be impacted as well. It’s like magic.
2. Conquer fear by taking a deep breath, closing your eyes, and giving zero f@#!s.
3. Don’t play more notes, play the same notes with more emotion - and use MORE space to contrast the emotion of the notes with the emotion of the silence.
4. Play with more intensity, not more volume. When you REALLY want to entice your lover, do you scream at them “I LOVE YOU”? No way. You whisper in their ear, “I love you.” Remember: YELLING pushes people away from you, whispering draws people toward you. Apply that principle to your harmonica playing.

(If you’re a beginner harmonica player and want to get started with the blues, check out my lesson Blues Harmonica for Beginners on YouTube.)

Rock on,
Luke

2 Likes