We continued our study of I Ain't Got You this week by learning to listen.
Shoji walked us through careful, thoughtful, targeted listening as part of studying music.
Step one: Put away your harps.
Step two: Listen to something beyond the harp and vocals. What are the other instruments doing?
Step three: Don't move your body; don't tap your toes or hands; don't sing along. Use your brain only.
He argued that he (and other instructors) don't need to teach you anything - you just need to learn to use your ability to listen.
We listened to the Billy Boy and the Jimmy Reed versions of I Ain't Got You in this way and heard so much we hadn't noticed or thought about before. We heard all the other instruments, even when they were buried in the mix. We found it became unclear whether that's really a harp solo or perhaps a guitar solo on the Billy Boy version. And we got a solid sense of the form of the song.
All by listening.
We should all be doing this constantly with songs we are studying and working to play.
Thanks for the crucial lesson, Shoji!
Apologies for the broken link to the Jimmy Reed transcription of I Ain't Got You last week. It is corrected here: transcription.
- Listen, grasshopper!
Don't miss these cats teaching at the Midwest Harmonica Workshop, running June 9-12:
Nico Wayne Toussaint
Jeremy Moondog J Jongsma
Lamont "Harmonica Harris
Clement D Bashir
Live performances, jam circles, group classes, Q&A sessions, equipment vendors and more. Full details and registration here.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew