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Harmonica Lessons: "It Don't Mean A Thing" on F Harp

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[MUSIC]
So here we are, in the beginning,
the basic section of the HLHS.
And I wanna introduce you to a very,
very famous jazz tune.
It's called It Don't Mean a Thing
if it Ain't Got That Swing.
Now, the thing about this
tune is it's in G minor.
[MUSIC]
It's a very, very simple tune, but
if you try playing it on the C harmonica,
you start running into some trouble.
Because there are some notes
that aren't on a C harmonica.
And this is where you start having
to know something about what key
harmonica plays what tune.
So I'm just telling you right now,
that if you have a minor key tune.
You should pick the harmonica that
is a whole step below that key.
So you just have to go by
the letters of the alphabet.
It's very simple for now.
A, B, C, D, E, F, G, so
you have G minor, F harp.
Very simple.
Where it gets a little less simple is
there is choice, you have two F harps.
These are the harmonicas that I play
which happen to be customized Hohners.
They're made up of parts of marine band,
parts of special 20, and a special
comb made of a hard wood, the same kind
of wood that they use for knife handles.
So I have a low F
[MUSIC]
and a high F
[MUSIC].
The high F is a standard F, if you go
into a music store and you buy an F harp,
usually they'll sell you a high F.
It's kinda shrieky sounding, I mean
it's fun, and the low F is kinda low.
[LAUGH] So you have a choice of one
that's a little bit too high and
one that's a little too low.
So it's best to buy both.
I'm serious about that.
It's good to have a high F and
a low F harp.
So for It Don't Mean A Thing If It
Aint Got That Swing, I'm gonna play
the melody first on a high F and then
on a low F for you, without the track.
[SOUND] It starts on a technically,
there's a little lead in note, but
I'm just gonna start the melody
on the first note of the scale.
Fourth hole draw, four draw.
[MUSIC]
Now for you beginners who are trying this,
it's four five and six.
[MUSIC]
In a straight line, one breath.
[MUSIC]
Slide the harmonica, slide your mouth,
whatever you wanna do,
[MUSIC].
You noticed, I bent a note,
[MUSIC]
its a minor blues scale.
[MUSIC]
You can't do that yet.
Although some of you just might do it
by feel, it's the bike riding thing.
You might discover hey,
look Dad, I'm bending.
[LAUGH] That might happen to you.
[MUSIC]
It's a minor pentatonic scale.
It goes
[MUSIC]
four draw, five draw,
six blow, six draw
[MUSIC].
And then
[MUSIC].
Just twice through that.
And then the bridge
[MUSIC].
And then finally,
he plays the second note of the scale.
It's amazing that one of the most famous
jazz tunes ever written only has five and
a half notes in the melody [LAUGH].
[MUSIC]
That's the whole A section.
And then the B section,
the bridge It's A, A, B, A form.
Eight bars, eight bars, and
then the bridge eight bars and
then the first section repeats
[MUSIC].
You can play, [SOUND] I'm playing
two notes at once, four and five.
This is a good tune to
start playing jazz with.
And on the low F it sounds,
[MUSIC]
a little bit,
[MUSIC]
more believable as a melody instrument.
But depends on the setting that
you might find yourself in.
Soloing on a high F, it really cuts.
It's like playing a very high trumpet or
a flute or something like that.
As opposed to playing
a tenor saxophone
[MUSIC].
If you're in a room with people playing
guitar and maybe people are talking,
having a good time, you play this
instrument, everyone goes, whoa, wow,
what's that?
High F gets some attention.
So I'm going to play a few choruses
of this tune on the high F,
and then I'm going to switch to the low F.
It Don't Mean a Thing by
Duke Ellington in G minor.
[MUSIC]
[LAUGH]
[MUSIC]
Supposed to
bend it.
[MUSIC]
Now I'm
going to
solo.
[MUSIC]
I'm just trying to stay like a beginner.
[MUSIC]
The major key
is the fifth hole draw.
[MUSIC]
And
then [SOUND] the other
change is like cross harp.
[MUSIC]
And then back into third position.
In other words, the fourth hole draw B.
[MUSIC]
Now I'm going to play the low F.
[MUSIC]
Now
here's
the
ending.
[MUSIC]
It repeats.
[MUSIC]
Three times.
[MUSIC]
That's called the tag, and
a lot of times in Jazz people
repeat the ending three times and
end it with sometimes a short cut off like
that one, sometimes its a long [SOUND].
So, I'm trying to introduce
you to a few concepts of Jazz.
The tag ending and also the form,
AABA which is what this tune has.
It's 32 bars.
Very simple chords.
And so that's why, just try to feel
your way through it on the F harp.
Whether you have a high F or a low F.
And once you get it secure, you can also
look up the charts in the real book.
I recommend to anyone who's gonna learn
jazz to get a copy of the real book.
It's what's called a fake book for
jazz musicians.
It has lead sheets,
which is the melody and
the chord changes for
all these different songs.
You can check it out a little bit.
But also, this tune is simple
enough to learn by ear.
So once you get any kinda version
that you feel comfortable with,
make a video of it and send it to me.
Thank you.
[MUSIC]