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Harmonica Lessons: "Salty Dog"

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Now I'm
going to talk
about a little tune
called "Salty
won't you let me
be your salty dog?
I won't be your little
Man at all.
Mama, let me be your salty dog.
There is many, many, many,
verses for this.
Joey Roll Morton sings it on his Library
of Congress recordings that he made in
the '30s.
This is an old tune that a lot
of Jug bands like to play.
It's got that ragtime rhythm.
That's just
basically got four chords.
It goes one, six,
two, five, one.
I'm in G.
Which is a really traditional key for
string bands to play.
So it goes, in other words,
the one chord is G.
The six chord is E seven.
The two chord is A seven.
The five chord is D seven.
Back to the G.
So this
is not one,
four, five.
This takes a slightly different kind
of playing, so I'm going to use
the traditional way that people would
have played it a long time ago.
If I can find the right harp here.
People would have usually played
this in a first position in G.
With some tongue switching
Those are tongue trills.
And, you can see that the chords on
the harmonica don't really intersect
the actual chords that are being played.
And a lot of times with the harmonica,
it's become kind of okay to not
really play the right cords because it's
kind of the generic style of the harp.
Now if you're tongue blocking,
there's an A seven chord here.
You can't really play it fully and
you have to be careful you
don't play the C natural.
So, if I want to,
with my more advanced technique,
I could play it a little
bit more like a jazz
musician would play it.
If I outline
the arpeggios so G
and then an E seven
Then A seven.
Even with no overblows or
overdraws or anything.
is what I call
the stepping
stones approach to
If you don't know how to go overblows yet
you can still play over cord changes
by avoiding the wrong notes.
For example you want to avoid
the C natural in the A seven cord.
Ooh, you don't want to play that.
You could play the C-sharp on the top
But if you can do all the overblows,
you can really streamline it.
Then if
I want to
do it on
a cross
harp, G
to E to
A seven
to D seven,
I was using a few overblows there,
but if you don't want to.
You can stick to basic blues and
sort of country blues but
if you really want to outline
the chords you have got to play.
And all those
over blown notes there
things that guitar
players would play
a mandolin fiddle
any of those guys
would've played.
Because those instruments back then or
now, don't have limitations that
our wonderful, miraculous instrument
has and the whole point of me showing
you this is to show that you can be the
equals of these guys if your playing in
a old timey band or a jug band that's
playing these old types of music.
You can play all of the right notes if
you learned just enough about the music
theory, which is contained in a lot
of those lessons that I have for
you on the website and this tune is
just a way to practically to bring
it about a little bit more practically and
the term jug band is taken from the fact
that the guys used to play all sorts of
instruments that aren't legitimate
instruments, like the jug.
You've just blown into this big jug,
[SOUND] like that,
like a tuba player would.
And they would get actual pitches.
And then they had washed up bases, which
were actual instruments that sounded like
a base but they were, they consisted
of a broomstick, a wash tub and
a piece of heavy bailing wire tied
between the end of the broomstick and
top of the wash tub in the center.
And by flexing it back and forth,
and you had to wear gloves to play
this thing because you'd tear your hands
up, you'd get a sound just like a bass.
And so there's a lot of old jug band
recordings that have harmonicas, a jug,
or a washtub bass, guys playing on banjos.
Sometimes kazoos were
real popular back then.
These are instruments and
bands basically of people who are too
poor to afford real musical instruments.
[LAUGH] Hence the presence of
the harmonica in many of these recordings.
So check out some old jug band recordings.
There are the Memphis Chic's and
the Jug Band Stompers and
all these other groups you can find them.
And have fun with it and report back.