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Harmonica Lessons: "Just the Way You Are"

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So this is a lesson on,
Just The Way You Are,
which is Billy Joel's tune that featured
a great alto sax solo by
Phil Woods on the original,
because it's really kind of
a jazzy tune that follows a jazz
type of structure of a tune that has
a bunch of two fives.
You know Billy Joel used to play in piano
bars, when he first started out and
he played a lot of standards and
this is kind of like that.
So it goes back and
forth between the B flat.
The second change is like the flat five.
It's sort of like the two chord.
then the four chord,
and then the two, five or the four.
Then the flat seven,
using one of the modes of the melodic
It's a bebop chord that has the thirteenth
and the flat five, or the sharp eleven.
then it goes to the bridge
in the same key.
And then it goes up a minor third.
So that's a very jazzy thing to do.
That's a lot like standards that
were written in the 1930s, 40s, 50s.
So, it's sort of
a throwback song in a way.
So, you have to pick a harmonica that's
gonna work well for B flat and D flat.
And for whatever reason, the day that we
were sitting around and recorded this,
I said, I'll play it on the C harp.
I don't know why.
So on a C harp,
it's in what we call eleventh position.
It's the third hole draw
then down a half step.
That's that E minor seven flat five or
the E, you have to diminish
which is kind of like C.
That's that chord
that has that
again, it's an A flat seventh
chord, thirteenth,
A flat seventh with a sharp five,
or an A flat thirteenth
with a sharp eleventh.
jazz musicians
use a lot of passing
chords between
a two and a five.
If you look at Andreas, he'll vary,
the chords that he uses, and
I'm sitting here with my ears, wide open,
cuz we've never rehearsed
any of this stuff.
The bass player, knows a lot of tunes,
has a really good ear.
And so, we just put this together
with no discussion at all,
because, jazz musicians are in the habit
of doing stuff like this, and it's fun.
I mean, so it's crossed swords mentally
with somebody who's really great,
like Andreas.
But doing it in a way that's cooperative,
I mean it's challenging.
We like to challenge each other, but
we also like to support each other.
So in B flat on a
I think it's a very soulful key.
I can get that
flatted sixth,
which is the note
that's in that
So then, we go through the whole piece and
the bridge stays in that key, you know.
Six, three, six, two, five, one and
then all of a sudden, we're in D flat.
D flat on a C harp is fourth
hole draw bend.
And you have to play that scale in tune.
You have to be able to
you have to be able to negotiate
your way around D flat.
So to play this tune in that key you have
to have prepared playing in D flat a lot.
Or else you're gonna sound like
a real dummy when that chord comes.
[LAUGH] So, then it goes back.
And then the third note of the D-flat
scale the second time,
is the fifth of B-flat, F.
Then you are back in B flat,.
It works, it's soulful, but
if you want to you can also
play it in other keys.
You can play it in twelfth
position on an F harp,
a low F
and then the two chord
becomes cross harp.
kinda nice.
And then we get to the bridge,
same thing, it's in the key, the same key.
Then we have to go up a minor third that
puts us in sixth hole draw bend,
third hole draw bend, all the way down.
But the low F harp,
it's hard to get that fourth
hole over blowing tune.
anyway, you
can try it.
It's always the sort of rule on
the harmonica that it's harder to
play the melodies than it is to solo.
[LAUGH] Cuz you gotta
nail these notes in tune.
Another key, let's see.
How about playing it in cross harp?
E-flat harp is
a little bit squeaky, and
sounds a little like country.
But I mean, it's cool, it's bluesy.
It gives it a different flavor.
And then,
the bridge would
go to
We go up a minor third from across
which is eleventh position the key
of the third whole draw bent down
a half step, which is the key
that I play the tune in on the C harp
or up an octave, it would be like this.
And that's very strong,
but E flat harp's kind of high,
kind of high for playing jazz,
it's a little shrieky.
And the low E flat is just
a cumbersome instrument to bend and
move around on quickly and
it's hard to find even sometimes.
But that's the way the tune works, and
if you watch the performance of me and
and then look at this lesson, hopefully
you'll be able to play it as well.
So good luck.