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Blues Harmonica Improv

Art- Basic Blues Improv


Beginners: Almost Blues Scale
Intermediate Level Riffs
Techniques Improv
12-Bar Blues
Target Notes
65 'Jam-To' MIDI Files

Improv is short for improvisation which means the same as "jamming". . . instead of playing pre-written music to a song, you are making it up as you go. This is not only a lot of fun, but is much easier than many people would imagine. This instruction is designed for a standard diatonic to play blues harmonica.

SAMPLE VIDEO:  Harmonica Lessons for Beginners
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A simple playing tip to speed up your movement and add accuracy in single notes.
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Dave gives a general overview of what you can obtain from both diatonic and chromatic harmonicas in regards to harmonica chords.
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In this excerpt, Dave discusses some of the reasons for playing in either 1st Position or 2nd Position.

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Beginner's Shortcut
A simple 2nd Position set of notes to begin jamming with . . .

Use any or all of these notes from the "Almost Blues Scale" to create riffs. Avoid starting on hole 4 Blow. It will sound good if you end your riffs on either the hole 3 Blow or the hole 6 Blow (for resolution). Repeat your idea two or three times to create a melodic feel. beginner improv.gifInitially, don't worry about any additional techniques, you can add those later. And, don't worry about perfect single notes because chords and a little sloppiness will sound just fine. Use a Blues MIDI file to jam to with your key of "C" 10-hole diatonic.

(View all Beginner's Shortcuts)

  • It's easier than it looks- Improv and "jamming" are based on using blues harmonica riffs and scales that you already know which have been ingrained through repetition and muscle memory. The real "improv" of it is that you can change the order and amount of repetition of your memorized patterns and combine them in different ways. The more you do it, the better you get, and more fun it becomes.

  • "Blues Harmonica Improv", what about other styles of music?- We call this section Basic Blues Harmonica Improv, but the information here applies to most types of popular music you would like to jam to. Because blues is a simple, consistant form of music, it is a great place to begin your improv regardless of which musical styles you to play.

  • Folk, rock, country, reggae, hip-hop, etc.- The average person that picks up harmonica does so because of an interest in blues and blues harmonica, but the imformation in this section will allow you to jam to all sorts of music like folk, rock, country, reggae, dance, hip-hop, heavy metal, grunge, and so forth.

  • Playing in the 2nd Position- The different approaches to improv here are all done in the 2nd Position. For more information on 2nd Position and others, visit the General Overview section.

  • "Jam-To" Blues MIDI File- If you would like a quick, easy background song to begin jamming to, you can use the "Jam-To" MIDI File in "G" to try out the different riffs and ideas outlined here. Additional MIDI files are also available in many keys and styles in our Members Area.

  • Additional Improv theory and related concepts- Our Theory section has additional information about jamming, plus explanations of music and harmonica theory. It includes: an Interactive Harmonica Key/Positions Table, info on "How to Key a Song", tips on "Solo Playing vs. Group Playing", "8 Different Approaches to Soloing", "Ways to Play in Minor Keys", and more.

Click here to get started with the "Blues Harmonica Riffs" approach to jamming.

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