No Sweat Blues
How to play great riffs on a diatonic harp without bending ?
Let’s have a look at the example below, based on a 12 bar blues progression.
The chords are F7, Bb7, D7, G7, C7. We’re going to look for shared notes, using the myxolidian mode, commonly used on 7th chords. Intervals between pitches are : tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, semitone.
So, for each chord :
F7 : F, G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb.
Bb7 : Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab.
D7 : D, E, F#, G, A, B, C .
G7: G, A, B, C, D, E, F.
C7 : C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb.
F is common to every chord, except D7.
G is common to every chord.
A is common to every chord, except Bb7.
Bb is common to F7, Bb7 and C7 chords, but we don’t want any bend.
C is common to every chord.
D is common to every chord.
E is common to D7, G7 and C7 chords.
Eb is common to F7 and Bb7 chords, but we don’t want any bend.
F# is in the D7 chord, but we don’t want any bend.
Ab is in the Bb7 chord, but we don’t want any bend.
In summary, you can use notes G, C and D on every chord, and even F, which acts as the « blue note » on the D7 chord.
So, the goal is to play a phrase or riff, repeated all along the 12 bars.
Then, we can make the riff longer, add notes…
Tempo is 116, eight notes are played swing style, not exactly as written. See the difference below :
Eight notes played as is :
Eight notes « swing played » :
Example 1, the same riff is played repeatedly all along the 12 bars :
Example 2, based on example 1, alternating the main riff and a modified version of the same riff, changing some notes and, on bars 16, 20 and 24, syncopated notes, « horn section style ».
Example 3, making riff 1 longer, and changing some notes (note : on bars 30, 34 and 36, notes and rhythm are exactly the same) :
Now it’s your turn, get inspired and have fun !
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