Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 440 #485)

A Gourmet Recipe of Sound!!!
As in preceding weeks, Joe led a “workshop” style class this week by demonstrating short phrases that illustrate some of the finer points of Sharp Harp, which were followed, in turn, by a group attempt to match Joe’s playing.

Keys to Success:
  • During the solo you can use ornamental bending, vamps and dirty notes to create a more “bluesy” sound. Or you can keep it clean and simple and let the rhythm be the featured element.
  • Be careful of unintentional bending.
  • Its always important to keep your harp accompaniment volume low, so as not to conflict with other soloists. Definitely practice playing more softly than you think you need to.
  • Pay very close attention to the duration of the notes. Like the sophisticated timing, note duration (legato vs. staccato) is integral to the feel that George creates in this song.
  • Overall, Joe emphasized that George’s unbelievable rhythmic precision is what makes this song so fantastic. There are many notes on the upbeat to create a kind of “anticipated rhythm”. Get it right and you sound very cool; pay less attention to it and you will sound sloppy.
  • Notice the large amount of repetition in the song. It’s not a coincidence that many Little Walter songs had a lot of repetition as well. Most novice players do the exact opposite. 
This deceptively short list covers a lot of ground. Keeping Sharp Harp under the microscope is proving to be an invaluable learning opportunity.

Class Notes
  • Performance students - you should be nailing down your recording song now so that the next few sessions are available for refining the tune, nailing beginnings and endings and such.
New Cool Old School Review
The Chicago Blues Guide has a terrific review up of Shoji's new CD, New Cool Old School. Check it out!

- Al Taylor, B1 Blues Crew

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