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How to Play Chord Vamps & Basic Train Rhythm on Harmonica

Learn how to play chord vamps and basic train rhythm on the harmonica from music teacher Marcus Milius in this Howcast video.


"Hi, my name is Marcus Milius. I play harmonica. I got a degree at the University of Southern California, a Bachelor's of Music, in Jazz Studies - Chromatic Harmonica. I play and teach harmonica here in New York City, and I'm happy to show you what I do.

We're talking about how to play chords on a harmonica, chord vamps and a basic train rhythm. There are basically two chords on the diatonic harmonica. There's a blow chord, which is a one chord and a five chord, which is a draw chord. However, most people tend to play this in second position, which on a C harmonica, the key of G. So, when you're in the key of G, you'll be starting on the draw chord, which is a one chord and then blowing for the four chord. And something that any harmonica player worth his salt needs to know is a basic train rhythm. The easiest one is just going to be a blow/draw pattern. You're going to draw twice, that's inhale twice, and then blow twice. So, sounds as simple as this. And then again, two blow chords. Pick up the tempo and play it as eighth notes, that will be one, two, three, four. And so then, you just make it a little faster and get that, add some hand effects.

Another simple chord vamp can simply be on the draw chord, a Charleston rhythm. A Charleston rhythm is on beat one and the and of two. And that will sound like this. One, two, three, four, bop, bop, one, two and three, four, one, two and three four. Charleston. And that's real nice because you have room in between to add some embellishments.

Another great chord vamp would be the Diddley beat, made famous by Bo Diddley. And that sounds like this. One, two, three, four. And some other, to do a littler deeper research on this, you might want to check out Sonny Terry or his predecessor DeFord Bailey, who were great at adding chords to their playing and playing unaccompanied without a band."

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