Hello and welcome to this week’s harmonica lesson where I am going to use Sonny Terry’s version of Bring it on home to me as a song study.
Specifically I am going to show how you can learn from a harmonica player’s style. This means that you will be able to steal their tricks and apply them to your own improvisations.
You will need a harmonica in the key of A and we will be playing in the key of E.
Learn the original
If you want to learn the original tune you can click here to go to my lesson.
It is not entirely necessary to learn the original however. We are going to look at some strategies for improvising in the same style as Sonny Terry.
How to study a song
Listen to the song and ask yourself the following questions…
What is the chord progression?
Ask yourself whether the chord progression is a 12 bar or if it is something different.
In this case it is an 8 bar blues which uses the I, IV and V chords. The chord progression is actually written on the tab I did for the tune in my lesson.
What scale and note choices are being made?
Ask yourself what scale is being used and if there are any interesting note choices.
In Bring it on home to me, Sonny Terry is mainly using the major pentatonic scale with an occasional blues scale note added (the 4 draw bend).
What are the key rhythms and phrase styles?
Ask yourself is there are any interesting rhythms or phrase styles.
Sonny Terry has a repeating triplet lick which is played four times throughout the tune.
You can pick your own notes and steal his rhythm and repetition to make your own solo.
Practice all of these ideas with the backing track below…
Apply this to any artist
Study as many harmonica players as you can. Ask yourself these questions and see what are the important elements of their playing style.
Thank you so much for taking part in this lesson. Please feel free to share it with your friends on Facebook and/or Twitter!
Tom Amann says
on your rate your progress ,beginner, intermediate,I found interesting. In the 70’s I played harmonica. I could play well at times as long as I had someone to jam with. With your lessons I am a stone cold beginner I never cold play solo or use sheet music, however I can bend notes , back in the dAy I could play blue with out stopping by playing in out bending in both directions.I had bangs ,people who I met on the spot, willing to provide equipment, transportation and the like If I would be in their band. Like I said now I am a dead beginner with the exception that I still know how to bend notes so I’m not sure that is an accurate measure of beginner or intermediate. Being able to solo I think is a better test. any way thats my take. thanks for the lessons. maybe I’ll be able to blow blues solo because of them !
Frank Horvath says
I was wondering if you could send me another lesson for Georgia On My Mind, I hit the delete button not paying attention and erased it.
Frank Horvath says
that will be great
As usual this is another great lesson.
I especially like how you explain to play the root notes on their own first, and then improvise in between.
I know I’ve said it before, but thanks again for your time, I really feel that I am beginning to improve. Looking forward to the next lesson.
Congratulations Tomlin I think you were only at about 2000 when started whit you .Its be because of your genuine affiliate presentation with high quality lessons. Really awesome effort and you deserve it.
Simon Milne says
Another really useful lesson. However, although you do normally put the chord progression on the tabs, the chord progression is not on the tab I got from you for Bring it on Home To Me. Nor can I see it on screen in the lesson. Perhaps I have an old tab? A good player would probably not need it but it would really help in my case….
All the best
Another great lesson. Congratulations on the 20000. Really would like to work on this. Do have a bit trouble with the A harp. Or should I say more success with the C . Don’t know if you have any suggestions or is just persevering…
Also is there any chance of downloading the backing track as I just got myself a looper and it would be great to get this in a loop to work on.
Little old blues man says
Thank you for the lesson, I like the way you break it down, easy to follow and understand,thanks
Art Anthony says
Thank you for your fresh approach to teaching. You are gifted and I hope to learn from you in the future.
thanks Tomlin . i’m still working on the first video and tab sheets on this great tune.
Thank you Art, I’m glad you enjoy the lessons 🙂
Thank you 🙂
Hi Andrew, Thank you 🙂
Here are some lessons that will help with the A harp – http://www.tomlinharmonicalessons.com/why-does-my-harmonica-sound-airy/
hi Simon, the chord progression is marked in roman numerals on the tab 🙂
Thank you Robert and thank you for following for so long 🙂
Thanks Steve – I’m glad you enjoyed the lesson 🙂
Hi Frank, no problem here it is – http://www.tomlinharmonicalessons.com/how-to-play-georgia-on-my-mind/
Hi Tom – thanks for getting in touch. It’s definitely difficult to self-assess and also to create a level system that suits every individual. I would usually pick the lowest level that seems to make sense and work through everything at that level before moving on to the next level.