Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 493 #537)

Digging in to Top of the Harp!!!

Following up on the improv conversation that started with our recent Dennis Gruenling visit, Highway RickEy laid down his version of Louis Myers' Top of the Harp - improv over a tramp groove. It's a groove Dennis played over while in class, so we're studying Louis' version first and we'll dive into the recording of RickEy next week.

Joe and RickEy shared observations of Myers' tune:

  • Joe calls it "mostly harmonica blues scale" playing with a fair use of the four blow as a pivot note and chance to dump air.
  • Myers does a ton of variation on one note, the fifth. You hear the four draw as head shake, clean, dirty - all imaginable ways, full of tonal and textural variety. 
  • Louis' phrasing varies, not always starting on the one. 

Other general comments:

  • Playing over a one chord groove would at first seem easy, but YOU have to create the movement and make something interesting. Louis' off-rhythm playing and his use of the 2 draw hook are examples of solutions here.
  • Repetition! Listeners tune out without it, so repeat yourself. Use call and response or question and answer as building blocks.
  • Repetition! Did I mention that you should repeat yourself? Think of it this way - if you play an idea and don't repeat it, you could be accused of not liking your own idea.
Here's a link to Highway RickEy's Top of the Harp jamtracks (120 bpm in E).

Class Notes

  • New Session at Old Town started this week - there is still time to register for the 12:30 Level 3 class or if you have train and country blues goals, get into the Rhythm & Chording class.
  • Joe will be out of town on July 17 and 31 - Level 3 and Performance classes proceed as normal though with Grant filling in. 
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew