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Harmonica Lessons: 2nd Position Cross Harp: Beginning Blues Licks and Vamping

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All right,
well here we are.
Finally, we're gonna learn how to
play in another key besides C,
because C was getting a little old.
So, this is one of the things about
the diatonic harmonica that makes it
different from any other instrument,
is that playing in other keys on it,
you'd have to play different things
if you're at a beginner level,
because all the notes aren't there.
As I've shown you, yeah in all the units
that we've covered in the key of C.
So when we play in other keys, for
example the key of G let's say.
If you try to play a scale in
the key of G on the harmonica.
You find your G,
which is the second hole draw.
A third hole blow.
And try to play a scale.
Right away you're missing A.
Da, da.
You have imagined A's there.
G, B, C, D, E.
And to play a scale in G,
if you were playing on the piano,
at that point you'd go.
You have to add an F sharp to make
it G major.
On the harmonica, there is no F sharp.
There's an F natural.
My goodness, what a terrible problem.
Well, it turns out that instead of
it being a problem it's actually
one of the greatest things
ever that's happened in music.
Because when the Germans designed the
instrument to play folk music in the key
of C,
with the G chord with the Richter tuning.
If you take that scheme,
suppose you're playing
Pop Goes the Weasel.
If you reverse your inhale exhale pattern.
Instead of blow, draw,
if you do draw, blow,
it starts to sound like this.
And we have a blues shuffle, and
this is one of the happiest
accidents in the history of music.
And if I were to play you that
blues shuffle on that just
intonation harmonica
where the chords sound super in tune.
You see this is a really miraculous and
wonderful thing that the instrument
plays the blues by itself.
It's kinda like a coin with two sides.
You flip the coin over, there's
a different picture on the other side,
it's still the same coin.
This harmonica, you take your
standard breathing pattern and
reverse it, and then you just get this,
the blues just miraculously pops out
of this Bavarian folk instrument.
So, when the harmonica came to
the United States sometime in the 1880's.
It didn't take too long before
people discovered this,
especially African-Americans,
whose music was the blues.
Now, at first a lot of people did play
blues in the key of the harmonica,
in what's called first position.
And I'm not gonna deal
with that right now.
I'll deal with that in
the intermediate section.
But later they discovered that this
inhale, playing the blues in G,
which is called cross-harp because
you're playing across the grain
of the harmonica in a certain way, or
what I Iike to call second position.
That blues just naturally lives there.
To all those standard blues
slicks just sit naturally on a harmonica.
On that inhale key.
So the reason it's called second position
is that, this scheme of the harmonica
loosely follows what's called the circle
of fifths in standard music theory.
And every time you go up a fifth,
which is five notes in a scale.
So if we go from C to G.
One, two, three, four, five.
This is an interval called a fifth.
And if you try to play that G major scale.
You need to add F sharp.
And that's the way
the circle of fifths works.
Every time you go up a fifth,
you add another sharp,
the black keys of the piano, in order
to get the sound of the major scale.
On the harmonica, when you go up a fifth,
since the F sharp's not there,
we're playing modal positions.
They're just the white keys from G to G
even though on the bottom octave we can't
get all of the white keys yet
without bending it.
But we have what's called
the mixolydian mode.
And if I were to play it from six blow for
you it sounds like this
It's a major scale with a flat seventh
missing that note
so if I play it over a G, let's say,
make a little drone for
myself on the piano.
Get used to the sound
Sorta sounds Irish and Scottish, and
a lot of bagpipe music's in this key.
And I find it very interesting that
the folk music from England and Scotland
is in the same modal
position as the blues,
which is a combination
of music from Africa,
from the slaves who were
brought over from Africa and
their arrival in the new world,
in America and.
This, to me, is a very important
thing in that the immigrants to
America from England and Ireland,
and places like this found a lot
in common between their music and
music of the African Americans.
And the harmonica is smack dab in the
middle of that because the harmonica is
also in a lot of country music.