Blues Harmonica Tabs user guide (free) | Easyharp | Blues Harmonica Lessons

blues harmonica tabs

Dear blues harmonica friend, here you find a simple and clear guide to correctly use the Easyharp Blues Harmonica Tabs, that are music transcriptions for blues harmonica.

Easyharp Tabs are advanced harmonica tabs: very similar to standard harmonica tablatures, where normally you find harmonica hole numbers that mean where you have to blow (B) or draw (D) through your harmonica, but I introduced an important music element, that is time division and rhythm

Here below you’ll easily understand how to read and play harmonica tabs. Each Easyharp Tab (pdf) has his own audio file (mp3) to help you in your reading and playing practise. Try to play written notes with the correct rhythm! 

Here your Easyharp Blues Harmonica Tabs user guide: learn quickly to read and play step by step as explained below and have fun!

 

blues harmonica lessons
Time division: bars and beats (4 quarter beats each bar, that is 4/4 time division). 
Each vertical line corresponds to a quarter beat (1, 2, 3, 4), like a metronome normally does when is playing.

 

blues harmonica lessons
Bars numbering according to the song to play: Bar n°1, Bar n°2,... Normally a standard blues progression is made by 12 bars.

 

blues harmonica lessons
Chords progression of the song:
I = tonic chord (first degree)
IV = subdominant chord (fourth degree)
V = dominant chord (fifth degree)
Normally you find only one chord for each bar, but sometimes chords are changing in the same bar; in that case you can find written something like:
I/V (half bar on the tonic chord and half bar on the dominant chord)
I/IV (half bar on the tonic chord and half bar on the subdominant chord).

 

blues harmonica lessons
The horizontal line divides draw notes from blow notes:
D = draw (up)
B = blow (down)

 

blues harmonica lessons
Numbers mean the holes through which obtain different notes to play and you can find them in two different lines:
upper line (D) = draw
under line (B) = blow
In this example: draw second hole, draw third hole, blow fourth hole, draw fourth hole.

 

blues harmonica lessons
A part of a bar filled with yellow means that you have to play some notes there, but, for your convenience, you find them written in the next page.

  

3’   3’’   3’’’

Each   means bending half step the corresponding note, for example:

3      =  third hole half step bent 
3’’     =  third hole whole step bent (two half steps)
3’’’    =  third hole whole step and a half bent (three half steps)

 

6_______  

A long line at the botton of a note (underscore) means that you have play that note long lasting and the length of the line corresponds to the length of the note.

 

(1234)

Numbers written between two brackets are group of notes to play at the same time (like a chord), so you need to get all written holes in the same embouchure.

 

(-- 4)

A number written between two brackets with two dashes beside the number means that you have to play that note with a tongue-blocking embouchure: the number is the hole to leave free, dashes are the holes to close with your tongue (normally the tongue is closing three holes on the left of the free hole).

 

(1 - 4)

Two numbers between two brackets and divided by a dash means that you have to play those notes at the same time (normally a technique used to play octaves): numbers correspond to holes to leave free, while dash means to use your tongue to close intermediate holes.

 

3”3 

Two notes written nearby and underlined at the same time: it means to play fast the first note before playing the second one; first note is a grace note, known as “acciaccatura”.

 

3<-- >4

Double arrow written between two notes: it’s a trill, also known as “shake”, that means that you have to play those notes alternately and fast.

 

-- > 4            

An arrow on the left of a note means that you have to play that note “glissando”: start to blow (or draw) through the holes before the written one, with a fast movement of your mouth on the harmonica to reach the right note.

 

2 ~

Small wave after a note: play it with “vibrato”.

 

3/4

Two notes divided by a vertical/diagonal line (slash): play those notes at the same time slightly bending them (on the contrary, if you find two notes written between two brackets: play them at the same time without bending).

 

(x)  

This symbol is used in syncopated rhythms: it means a rest, you don’t have to play any note where you find this symbol.

 

blues harmonica lessons
The position of the notes (number of the hole through which blow or draw) compared with the vertical line position that divides each bar in four quarter beats means when you have to play the different written notes. Quantity of notes in the same quarter represents also time division and the rhythm to adopt playing that sequence of notes.

 

blues harmonica lessons
If you find only one note inside a quarter of the bar and if you find it written just near the vertical line, on the right, it means that you have to play that note on the downbeat. In this example: play four times the second hole draw note in the same bar and play each note on the downbeat of each quarter of this bar.

 

blues harmonica lessons
If you find two notes inside the same quarter of the bar, first note written just right the vertical line and the second note almost in the center of that quarter, then you have to play two notes in the same quarter, one on the downbeat and one on the upbeat.
In this example: play two times the fourth hole draw inside each quarter of this bar, first on downbeat and second on upbeat.

 

blues harmonica lessons
If you find three notes inside the same quarter of the bar, first one just right the vertical line and the other two notes more or less at the same distance, then you have to play three notes in the same quarter and that means playing triplets, normally with a strong emphasis on the first note of the triplet.
In this example: play four times the same triplet made by: fourth hole draw, fourth hole draw half step bent, fourth hole blow.

 

blues harmonica lessons
If you find four notes inside the same quarter of the bar, it means that you have to play a quadruplet (sixteenths notes), that according to the song tempo needs a good technique playing a fast sequence of notes.
In this example: you have to play four times the same quadruplet in a bar and each quadruplet is made by: fifth hole draw, fourth hole draw, fifth hole blow, fourth hole blow.

 

blues harmonica lessons
If you find two notes inside the same quarter of the bar (that is the space between two following vertical lines), first note just right one vertical line and second note just left the following vertical line, then you have to play those notes with a “shuffle” rhythm, that belongs a triplet division rhythm where the central movement is missing. Practically the result is that you find two notes written nearby, close to the same vertical line, and you have to play them in a fast sequence, where the second note is on the downbeat and the first note is anticipating the second.
In this example: play second hole draw on the downbeat, rest, play in sequence second hole draw and third hole draw (third hole draw is on the downbeat and second hole draw is anticipating third hole draw), rest, play with the same shuffle rhythm third hole draw and fourth hole draw, rest, fourth hole draw and sixth hole blow.

 

blues harmonica lessons
As you can understand, Easyharp Tabs are really blues harmonica “advanced tablatures”, that with the help of audio files will drive you playing the right notes at the right time with the correct rhythm.
In this example you find notes to play for the length of two bars; each bar is played on the tonic chord of a blues progression. I suggest you to use a metronome beating the time (4/4) or to beat your foot on the floor while you are playing.
So, in this example, in the first quarter of the first bar, you’ll play a second hole draw a whole step bent on the downbeat and a second hole draw on the upbeat.
In the second quarter of the first bar, you’ll play at the same time third and fourth hole draw slightly bending, almost for the entire length of this quarter.
In the third quarter of the first bar you’ll play a quadruplet, that is a fast sequence of the written four notes. In the fourth quarter you’ll play a second hole draw on the downbeat.
Second bar is very similar to the first one, almost same notes to play and almost same rhythm; the difference is that the quadruplet is made by different notes and in the fourth quarter you don’t have to play any note.

 

I suggest you to study all the songs you find inside Easyharp Tabs, one by one. Try to make yours written notes, maybe memorize the notes written inside each bar of each song, one by one and practice with a metronome at a slow speed, start tapping your foot like a metronome every beat. Don’t worry if at the beginning you’ll find some difficulties coordinating your foot with your playing, step by step you’ll teach you foot beating the time while you are playing and you’ll discover very quickly great improvements not only playing music with your harmonica but also managing time and rhythm.

I wish you a lot of fun studying my Easyharp Tabs: it’s the result of many years studying and playing blues harmonica standard songs and I’m sure that step by step you’ll get deep and deeper inside your wonderful instrument language and soon you’ll find yourself playing blues harmonica at a consistent advanced level.

Have fun!

P.D.

 

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