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Harmonica Lessons: "Straight, No Chaser"

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[MUSIC]
This is
Thelonious Monk's
famous tune Straight No Chaser.
Straight No Chaser, it's about alcohol,
straight no chaser is
a way to order a drink.
If you wanna order a drink,
just a shot of something,
you say, I'll have it straight, no chaser.
A chaser is a glass of water.
So, that's what the name
of this tune means.
Now, to Monk,
who knows what the name of the tune was?
If you look up Thelonius Monk, he was one
of the most eccentric jazz musicians,
artists, composers who's ever lived.
He had a very unorthodox
style on the piano, and
he had a way of writing extremely angular
[MUSIC]
melodies that had strange intervals in
them, unusual chord changes.
And also, some of it was characterized
by a lot of chromaticism.
This is a 12-bar blues in F,
but the melody is.
[MUSIC]
It's all those third hole bend notes.
[MUSIC]
You have to use every note that's of
a third hole draw bend at one point or
another in this tune.
[MUSIC]
The best way to
play it is,
[MUSIC].
You start out with one draw,
then three blow, and then,
[MUSIC].
Two, three draw bent down a whole step,
then a half step, then all the way up,
[MUSIC]
that's four blow.
[MUSIC]
That's three draw bent down a half step.
[MUSIC]
That's the five chord and
it's basically
the chromatic scale.
So, this thing is a very funny tune.
So, it's
[MUSIC]
one, four,
[MUSIC]
one.
[MUSIC]
And it comes on the end of the bar instead
of right on the beginning on the 4th beat.
[MUSIC]
Whoops.
[MUSIC]
And
then it goes.
[MUSIC]
And then there's
a little five chord.
So it's, this tune is kind of
extracts from the chromatic scale.
[MUSIC]
All 12 tones.
And it's a really good tune to learn on
the harmonica for precise note bending.
And that first hole over blow
that you don't have to sustain,
but that you do have to hit
[MUSIC].
Just in passing.
So, it's.
[MUSIC]
And
then you have
to accent that
second hold draw
bend on the five
[MUSIC].
And sometimes I articulate the notes of
the third hole draw bend with my tongue.
[MUSIC]
To make them believable sounding,
so you're not just going,
[MUSIC]
like that.
Saxophone's a lot easier.
So I'm gonna play it now with
the track that I put down,
which I try to play in the style of Monk,
which is very angular.
Someone one time,
one famous jazz position described
playing with Monk like walking
into an empty elevator shaft
because he didn't provide you
with much support chordally,
he wasn't the typical jazz pianist,
[MUSIC].
He would just hit something and
let it sit there for a while.
Some angular kind of chord.
He was just totally different.
His solos on piano sometimes were
just paraphrases of the composition
rather than a bebop piano solo and
sometimes he would get up and dance also.
He liked to just get up and
dance in a circle in front of the piano
when someone else was solo-ing.
Truly amazing, one-of-a-kind character.
Fantastic composer.
And so I'm going to play for
you this tune as a good introduction
to Thelonious Monk's music for
you to play it on the harmonica and
there will be more of his tunes to follow.
So here it is Straight, No Chaser.
[MUSIC]
It's a B
flat harp.
[MUSIC]
See,
I'm not
playing anything
complicated.
[MUSIC]
Used a lot of
flat fifth cords.
[MUSIC]
I'm hardly
using over blows
at all
[MUSIC]
that was a whole
tone scale lick.
[MUSIC]
So I ended on the flat
fifth, which he like
to do quite often
[MUSIC]
which is the fourth hole
draw bent down a half step.
So you can see that his music,
this angular sort of almost dissonant
sounding jazz,
actually works very well on the harmonica.
I screwed up the out head a little, sorry.
But I did play it.
I played all the notes of the head,
and the in and the out, on the piano.
So that when you play along, you'll know
if you're playing it right or wrong.
[MUSIC]
And
so, you don't have to play
anything complex in the solos.
But I tried to play a piano track
that approximated the feeling of
Thelonious Monk, so that you would get
a feel for what it's like to play his
music from the inside out, rather than
just pasting a bunch of bebop licks on
top of it or just playing blues licks
along with more standard chords.
So have fun with this and I look forward
to hearing some videos from you.
[MUSIC]