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How to Play Blues on the Harmonica

Learn how to play blues 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.

To play Blues on the diatonic harmonica, you want to be doing more draw notes. You want to play in second position, so if you've got a C harmonica you're playing in the key of G , 5 notes up. Uh, you'll want to resolve to 2 draw now, because this is your tonic now, and use more draw notes. Here's your 2 draw, and here's your draw chord, and that's your tonic note, uh, and your tonic chord. So you'll want to resolve most of your melodies and your notes to the draw. Simply by playing in second position, playing in the key of G on a C harmonica, and playing with accompaniment in the key of G, then you're automatically going to sound a lot bluesier. Second position, or cross harp is a bluesier sound. And to make sure you are doing that, you want to resolve to the tonic of the new key, which is 2 draw. So you're going to be up doing a lot more draw notes uh, on the low end of the harmonica so you can get that tonic chord for the key of G. Um, so do lots of bends as well, which are all in the draw on the low end. Holes 1, 2, 3, and 4. And that will give you a bluesier sound. And you want to bring the air in, for instance, for 1 draw, like you're gargling water. So, so the back of the tongue would go up, in the back of your mouth, and the front of the tongue goes down and back. And then for the two draw, bring the air in more like you're snoring, and that will help you bend that note. And then the 3 draw is a little more in the front of your mouth. Like you're uh, got a thick milkshake through a straw. And then four draw, like an SH. And adding those bent notes into your playing will help give you a much bluesier sound."

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