What song are you working on?

That’s some pretty incredible harmonica playing!

Gotta like that, thanks for sharing @Ijandar :sunglasses::+1:

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Funny you should say that @RollyJoe !

After practicing @Luke s’ video of the chorus to Country Roads, I wanted the whole thing!
So I looked for music to the whole thing, that would match what he plays in the video for the chorus.
I found it, in G, written for the tin whistle!
Then the fun part came, trying to work out where you’d play these notes best on the harmonica to try and preserve the melody.
It was a bit tricky, but this is my first effort. Unfortunately, I’m not really good enough to play what I’ve written smoothly, so I’m not sure if it actually works as yet! There’s a few leaps in there where I’ve had to change octaves, so maybe it doesn’t flow so well, and I might have to change some draw 8s to draw 4s, things like that. The refrain, I don’t really know the melody to, but transcribing it as written on the music I found was simple, maybe too simple, as it was written for a beginner on the tin whistle.
Maybe someone wants to try it out and let me know what they think. The verses sort of works, except that perhaps going up an octave on the second line was a mistake, despite that being what the vocal does, it would be easier to play -4.


Other than that @HarpinBobbyMcB , yesterday I started recording a version of Mystery Train. At first I put the Stray Cats version into my DAW, and recorded my harmonica playing rhythm, which I liked. Now I’m trying to write the drum beat so I can record myself playing guitar and bass, and layer harmonica on top of that.
Lots of fun, this harmonica-ing! :grin:

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@Dave_Dunn,

C Harp / (X) = - X

4 4 - 4 4 - 4 4 - 4 - 5
Almost heaven, West Virginia
6 6 6 6 - 6 6 4 - 4 - 4 - 4 4 - 4 - 5
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
4 4 - 4 4 - 5 -5 - 5 6 - 6
Life is old there, older than the trees
6 6 6 6 - 6 6 4 - 4 -4 -4 4 - 4 -5
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

4 - 4 5 5 4 -4
Country roads, take me home
5 - 4 4 5 6 - 6
To the place I belong
-6 5 6 5 5 4 -4 5
West Virginia, mountain mama
-4 -4 4 4 - 4 4
Take me home, country roads

Astrid wishes you a lot of fun :woman_in_lotus_position:

Hello @Dave_Dunn and @RollyJoe,
What I sent you here the other day is bullshit. Please forgive me!
Just had time to play it and noticed it. Now I know what @Dave_Dunn meant by the change. I left it in, if not, you would have to adjust it again.

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Thanks @AstridHandbikebee63 !
That looks much easier! :slightly_smiling_face::+1:

I worked mine out based on what Luke played, the Chorus tabs are exactly what he shows in his tutorial.

What I did, was find the song, and look at harmonica note maps, to see which would match what he played, which I’d practiced, to the music I found. What he played, fitted the music I found, on a G harmonica. The music was in G. *

Then, I matched the notes on the music to the G harmonica note map, and tried to decide on which hole would be best to play the note required to suit the melody best.

*I found this a little confusing, because if he’s playing in second position on a C harp, it should be in G, yet, on the C harp, the notes don’t match playing the song in G, as per music sheet I found.

It was an interesting exercise, but I think I’ll try yours! :grin::+1:

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Yes, @Dave_Dunn,
I had read what you did earlier.
Even finding the right tabs is not easy and 2 days later you realize that it’s still not quite right.
The more you do this, the better it gets!
You can also play this song differently. But that goes up to - 8 and 10. I don’t think it sounds good and maybe for some it’s still too difficult to convert.

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Yes, my draw 8 is horrible @AstridHandbikebee63 !!! :grimacing::scream::face_vomiting:

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@Dave_Dunn,
Don’t worry, it gets better with practice. Not playing draw 8 is not a solution either. :rofl:

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Hi Dave @Dave_Dunn

Perhaps you are drawing too hard on the -8 ?? If not, then what is the sound like? Airy?

Try this: if -7 works well for you, then see how softly you can play -7 (start with the most delicate draw you can and gradually increase drawing strength until the reed begins to sound). Now stop and do the same on -8. If the reed is correctly adjusted then the result should be almost exactly the same as for -7.

Next, go back to -7 and this time do a quick, strong draw attack. Does it respond well or choke? Now stop, go to -8 and repeat the strong, quick attack. Good immediate response? Choking?

Basically all of your holes on the harp (in particular the immediate “next door neighbor” holes) should all respond identically when drawing, using these two approaches for testing the draws. The same applies to the blows in those holes and their neighbors (using both approaches: so delicate and silent blowing until the reed begins to sound, and the quick strong attacks). Only when both draw and blow in the same hole respond the same can you be pretty sure that the blow and draw reed gaps are correct (remember: the blow reed and the draw reed interact, so both need the correct adjustment).

If there is too much curve in the long axis of the reed, that can also cause trouble (difficult bending, inefficient use of air and “airy” sounding tones, etc) – the problem is, however, getting the correct curvature is more difficult and “dangerous” than adjusting the gap or even tuning the reed.

And Astrid @AstridHandbikebee63 is correct: not playing -8 is not a solution!

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Thanks @Slim! I’ll try your tips. I think the main problem lies in my ability to isolate notes properly. I can play -8 if that’s all I’m playing, but in a song, often I’m not lining it up properly I think. Maybe it’s the way I hold the harmonica also, I might be changing the angle as I move my hand to the left to play the higher notes.
Draw 8 does seem to give me more trouble than any other note though.
I’ve really got to put more work in and get some of these basic techniques down properly. That’s what appealed to me about Country Roads, if I can play it cleanly, I’ll have taken a step forward in my playing.
Thanks for your help! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Sounds like you’re coming along @Dave_Dunn, and thanks for the tabs @AstridHandbikebee63.

Isolating notes and comparing contiguous holes as @Slim says should help on your 8 draw. It gets a little scary way up there at the top of the harp, but once you can get past the 6/7 draw bridge into the upper octave it’s a game changer.

The 6 draw, (corresponding to the 3 draw bent a full step) is much easier to hit consistently, so a lot of songs which sound “sick” on the lower octave take on new found life up high. Try practicing real basic songs like nursery rhymes on the higher octave for fun.

Once you start getting clean notes up high, you are off to the races. Just keep at it and make sure your loved ones are out of earshot since learning to play the highest octave on the harp can be painful for those around us :joy:.

The whole “Key thing” was very confusing to me at first @Dave_Dunn, just remember: what you learn to play in one key on a harp will automatically be able to played on any other key harp (in the same tuning) by following the same patterns. As long as you are playing with yourself, so to speak, you’ll be fine with just about any key. It’s when you are jamming along with others when being in the right key becomes critical.

Transposing music from one position to another can be done, but I’m definitely not the best at it, yet.

Mainly I just go by ear and listen for how the pitch rises and falls as the song goes along. It usually takes me awhile to learn a song, but once I do, my mouth seems to remember what to do on the harp to reproduce the sounds. Not sure exactly how it works, but I’m rarely thinking of what hole I am on, or whether I am blowing or drawing as I play. Instead, I just listen as I go along and I can generally tell when I hit the right note or the wrong one, if I am familiar with the rhythm of the song.

Happy Harpin’!

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@HarpinBobbyMcB , no time now for a long reply, but thanks for your insights! :slightly_smiling_face:

As to the key, that was because of the music notation I found, I had to match that written music, to Luke’s tabs for the chorus, so I could map out the rest of the song for harmonica, on harmonica note map, like this.

Luke had tabbed this


He had 4 -4 5, for ‘Country roads’ I had G A B.
On the harmonica note maps, that matches the G harp note map, so I worked from there. Had I found the song written out in a different key, it would have matched the note map of a harp in a different key.
So yes, the key was irrelevant, but only once I’d written the ‘tabs’.

I had thought Luke’s tabs to be in the second position, on a C harp, meaning that he was playing in G, but what he wrote, looking at the note map for a C harp, does not match the notes of the song when it’s played in G.

I don’t know why.

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Hello @Dave_Dunn,
I’ve read your last comment 5 times now, but somehow I don’t understand the problem with @Luke’s lesson.
As far as I can remember all the lessons are played with the C harp, 1st position.
Other providers of beginner’s courses do the same so that as a student you can first master the basics and it could deter many if they had to have harps in all keys right from the start. First of all, you have to master it in theory and practice.
You wouldn’t start building a house at the top, would you? :smiley:
All further understanding comes over time and it should be given and taken! If you want too much at once, you will achieve the opposite and invest time at the wrong time.
Please, this is just my own experience as I’m not a child prodigy either.
Best regards Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:

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Oh I didn’t have a problem with it @AstridHandbikebee63, quite the opposite. I practised it, and loved it. That’s why I wanted a verse to go with it. I couldn’t find a match for it in the other harmonica tutorial tabs, I found a few tabs for the whole song, but none matched Luke’s chorus tabs. which I’d already practised, so it was a nice mental exercise to attempt to make my own.

The tabs you’ve given me are better, and easier to play, but you see, I’d already learned the chorus from Luke’s tabs, so initially, I just wanted to expand on that.

I will learn the other tabs though! :slightly_smiling_face:

If Luke was playing the chorus on a C harp, in the first position, then it all makes sense, I guess I just assumed he was playing in the second position.

I’m not doing the paid lessons btw, just browsing his YouTube channel and picking videos. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Yes @Dave_Dunn , you mentioned it at the beginning!

Maybe you will have the opportunity to do the BTB course at a suitable time.
Since I had to take early retirement and also have other interests and hobbies, I briefly thought about it for financial reasons and was lucky with the dollar rate at the time. Today it’s rising against the Euro and inflation plus rising energy costs tell me I’ve done everything right.

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@Dave_Dunn That’s a lot further than I had explored so far, I like the way you were going about it… I was going to try your version out until Astrid posted hers. Now I think I’ll try them both!

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The feedback would be great! I tried to follow the melody by going up into the higher notes, but it’s too awkward I think. Lines 2 and 4 of the verses are pretty much the same, only he sings line 2 in higher register than line 4. I don’t know whether trying to replicate that actually works or not. I’m having trouble playing line 2 cleanly because you basically run out of notes and have to drop down abruptly to finish the line. As you know, most notes repeat themselves on different holes with a harmonica, the problem is deciding where it’s best to play them to suit the melody, so there are a few different options when trying to write tabs.
Let me know what you think @RollyJoe . :slightly_smiling_face:

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Mee too please @RollyJoe. :grin:

Hello @Dave_Dunn and @RollyJoe,
What I sent you here the other day is bullshit. Please forgive me!
Just had time to play it and noticed it. Now I know what @Dave_Dunn meant by the change. I left it in, if not, you would have to adjust it again.
Please scroll up again, I’ve changed it.

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@Dave_Dunn @AstridHandbikebee63 Will do! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hey @Dave_Dunn, I went back to @Luke 's video. That’s a great song! I really like how Luke explains it with different levels of Boss :sunglasses::+1:

Watching the “Wa WA” explanation on the 2nd level of Boss :sunglasses::sunglasses:, made me rethink the song I’ve been working on for a few days from Lionel Richie. It’s amazing the difference in the sound!

I’m not much of a tabs guy but what I have found out through one of our fearless leader’s posts, is that it helps to think of the steps in a scale rather than the notes themselves. Up :point_up_2:, down :point_down: and across 2 holes on one diatonic harmonica will be virtually the same on all of them. So once you get the steps right, and they sound right, then I would get to the tabbing, but rather than in notes, in tabs or steps.

After you have it down, a tuning app will help figure out which are the right notes. Remember C - D - E has the same “steps” as G - A - B. For me it’s helpful to look at the notes on the piano to see how the notes correlate with the harp. The patterns remain the same.

I’m not very good at following tabs. I get confused. I do find them very helpful to figure out starting points and difficult transitions. Other than that, it helps me keep the rhythm more when I just imagine :thought_balloon: the song in my head :notes:.

Seems to me that most important is to be able to isolate the notes, particularly up in the the 6 / 7 exchange and the higher register.

Not sure if that makes any sense :thinking:

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