Shoji began the rhumba conversation last night by urging folks, especially those who don't also play guitar or bass, to understand the rhumba bassline. He shared the bassline transcription so you can play it on your harp. Even he admitted, and demonstrated, that it is difficult to play this line over and over without variance like a bass player would. Nonetheless, it is very valuable practice time spent working on the line so you understand the rhythm of the rhumba (and begin to appreciate the band behind you more!).
The next part of dissecting the rhumba is understanding that it is not a shuffle but rather a straight eighth groove. What does that mean? Blues is almost always 4/4 time. The four quarter notes in each bar can then be divided one of two ways - evenly into eighth notes, or instead into triplets. The even division gives you a "straight" feel and the triplets give you a swing or shuffle feel.
Shoji ran through a little quiz with us, playing various songs for us to try to ID as straight eighth or shuffle - it's an exercise you should keep at yourself and is great musical and ear training in the car. Put down your harp and learn to listen critically and analytically - fewer accidents and better musicality!
All of which brings us back to the question, having identified our tune, Crosscut Saw, as a straight eighth rhumba, of what to play on it as a harp player. So we listened to Albert King's guitar, learned that he plays almost entirely the minor pentatonic scale on it, and at Shoji's recommendation, we take that to heart. Know that scale and, as RickEy suggests, play it with the rhythmic style Albert King employs.
And, for a couple more hints, listen to Junior Wells and Slim Harpo, both of whom play over rhumbas more than most other harp players.
- Joe will miss sessions in April on the 6th, 13th and 20th. Private lessons will not take place but all Level III and Performance classes will proceed as normal with sub help from Zoe, Grant and Shoji.
Shoji's play-along track for Junior Parker's Sweet Home Chicago as well as two key versions of Crosscut Saw are now up for sale at his website. (users report some delay before the downloads hit your email inbox, so be patient)
Double CD Release
The Filisko and Noden double CD release show happens this Sunday, March 15 at 7:00pm at the Old Town School, so get your tickets now!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew