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Harmonica Lessons: "Giant Steps" (Advanced)

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Giant Steps,
I've been waiting to do this for a while.
John Coltrane is probably
my favorite jazz musician.
I have a lot of favorites, but
he is probably my most favorite.
For many reasons, probably his playing
moved me the most of anybody's and
that was what first turned me on to jazz.
This tune of his, Giant Steps,
is a landmark in the history of jazz.
It turned the jazz world on its
ear when it came out in 1960, 61.
I can't remember the year.
I wasn't listening to jazz yet.
So, what makes this tune different is
the way that the chords move around.
There are only really three
chords in this whole piece.
They're B, G, and E flat.
And you notice that those three notes
together make up what's
called the augmented chord.
Which, it doesn't have a fifth anywhere.
And the notes that connect them together
[SOUND] are the whole tone scale.
So, it's a disorienting type of scale,
because that scale has no fifth either.
So these chords are connected
together by two fives.
So it's really fives.
It's B,
and then the five of G which is D.
It's a G, and then the five of E flat.
And then the two five of G.
A minor seven to D seven.
[SOUND] And then the same thing, G.
[SOUND] With five of E flat,
which is B flat.
[SOUND] And then E flat.
And then the five of B.
[SOUND] F sharp seven to B.
And then bunch of two fives.
The two, five one of E flat.
The two, five, one
of G.
The two, five, one of B.
And then the two, five
of E flat.
And then the two, five of B.
And we're back at the beginning.
This entire tune is built
on symmetrical patterns.
The melody itself as I play it on
the harmonica sounds likes this.
This is a C harp, maybe not the greatest
harmonica to play the melody on, but
I'm going to teach it to you on here.
It's the major seventh arpeggio of G.
And then a minor third.
[SOUND] So it goes like this.
F sharp,
which is the five overblow.
This harmonica seems a little stodgy.
Five, excuse me,
four, three, and two draw.
B flat which is the third hole draw
bent down a half-step.
B and A,
you have to get the chart
of this in the real book.
And then the E flat major arpeggio,
E flat major seven
which is D, B flat, G, E flat.
The first hole over blow and
then F sharp,
which is the minor third of E flat.
So we have two symmetrical arpeggios.
Except that each one of these notes
is surrounded by a different chord.
Had to
search for
the chord.
So that's the beginning of the piece.
You can see that soloing over all
these chords that are connected along
these three tonal centers separated by
major thirds with no fifths anywhere.
This is the challenge,
you sort of get a sense of musical vertigo
that you can't quite find your balance.
That is why I am just
teaching you the melody.
Once more.
And he swings
it a lot of times in
the Fake books.
They just write them as half notes like
but it's not.
It's one, two, one, two, three, four.
And these
things swing too.
Then you just start going up
in a symmetrical pattern.
It's G, F, B flat.
B, A, D.
And then he changes it a little bit.
It's E flat, E flat, F sharp.
He doesn't go
and that's four overblow and
five overblow.
And then G, G, B-flat.
And then F-sharp,
which is the two five of B.
[SOUND] It's only 16 bars.
But to solo convincingly over these
changes is gonna be your ultimate goal.
Now obviously this tune can be
played on other harmonicas.
I like to play it on a G
harmonica because G is the first
harmonica that I learned how to play so
I see it directly related to the piano.
So the first, on a G harp.
It's just a G major 7 arpeggio.
Starting at 7 draw.
Then you need 4 over blow.
then an E flat major
arpeggio starts at 6 blow.
4 overblow.
[SOUND] 4 blow, 3 draw bend.
[SOUND] All the way down, and then 3 draw.
G, F, B flat.
4 blow, 3 draw, bend,
down a half step, 4 over blow.
5 blow, 4 draw, 6 blow.
6 draw, bend, to 7 draw.
And then, 6 blow to 7, it's 8 blow bend.
That's not bad.
But you can also play it
on a B flat harmonica.
A harmonica player named Jay Mabin
actually told me about this.
He said, Howard, did you ever try this?
And if you play it on a B flat harmonica,
the melody,
you don't need any overblows or
overdraws to play the melody.
So it sounds like this.
A G major 7 arpeggio on a B flat harmonica
is the major arpeggio of 4th position, and
it's all just bent notes and
regular notes.
It starts on 6 draw bend,
5 blow,
4 draw bend,
3 draw bend down a whole step,
4 blow.
4 draw bend, 3 draw, and
then the 12th position major 7th arpeggio.
Would be like an F major 7 on a C harp, so
it's 5 blow, 4 blow,
3 draw bend down a whole step,
and 2 draw bend down a whole step.
And then 3 draw bend all the way.
And then
3 draw bend down a whole step to 3 blow to
4 blow.
And then
4 draw bend, 3 draw, 5 blow.
And then 5 draw, 5 draw, 6 draw bend.
And then 6 draw.
To 7 blow, and then 6 draw bend.
So technically,
this is the easiest way to play
the melody of Giant Steps.
So I would recommend to you
that you learn it on a C harp.
And then try it on the G harp or
the B flat harp.
Take your time with it.
Listen to recordings of Cold Train and
you'll see how fast he plays.
But play it slowly.
So that you can do it at about this tempo.
Da, da, da.
You can
That's like the backing track for
learning the melody of jazz.