How to improvise in the style of Sonny Terry’s Bring It On Home To Me

Apr 19, 2017 | Backing Track, Intermediate Harmonica Lessons, Jamming & Improv

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.

Backing track

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

Happy harping!

Thank you so much for taking part in this lesson. I hope it was useful for you. If you enjoyed this lesson, please share it with your friends.

See you again for the next harmonica video!

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