Sunday, June 8, 2014

Vamping

Vamping is a technique that mesmerized me as a beginning harmonica player whilst listening to to guys like Kim Wilson  and Jason Ricci. The reciprocating chordal groove center makes it perfect for playing solo. In the video below, I give an intro into the use of vamping and how to utilize it.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Drive

I thought it was about time that I covered one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists: Drive by Bobby McFerrin. Bobby's vocal technique is well known in music circles as being astounding and complex; bassline, harmony, melody line and groove all done by one man at one time. The epitome of solo performance. Although my vocal abilities are not nearly up to par with McFerrin's, I figured that I would give it a go with harmonica and beatboxing.
The harp key here is B-flat played in third position.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Groove is the Center of Ev))erything!


 
1. An adjective describing a rhythmic quality of music that is emotionally communicative and soulful; used for music moving at a steady beat.
                                                                              -Urban Dictionary

When we talk about music as musicians or as listeners, a fundamental principal that draws our attention is groove. What is groove? You may think of it as the beat of the song that really gets you going; that thing that makes you want to dance or nod your head to the beat.  But its much deeper than that. Groove lies beyond just the beat or the time signature. It is how the song sways in relation to the fundamental percussion. That push or pull that a good drummer can accomplish to create or dissolve tension. See the video below as reference: (pay close attention to the relationship between the drummer and what the harmonica is doing).


As harmonica players of all levels, our focus should be not so much on if we can accomplish bends,overblows,overdraws,warbles,( or much of the other harmonica geekery), but rather on the fundamental groove. Technique is anchored by fundamentals, groove being an essential element to the foundation. Here are a few videos from other schools of music to chew on in the furtherance of playing in relation to groove.

B.O.B


 
In the above video, groove is used in the solo context. Pushing and pulling of the beat is completely defined by the performer. 

 
     This song is a good study of the relation between minimalistic rhythm guitar, a drum pattern, and   most importantly what the bass is doing. Harp players take note.                                


Friday, March 21, 2014

Why Harmonica?

A common question that people ask is why would someone want to play harmonica. Its not as "cool" as the guitar, not as "smooth" as a piano, and not as "sexy" as a sax. However to me, it a combination of all these things. A harmonica (when played properly; all Bob Dylan jokes aside) can be a very sensual, smooth and melodic instrument. It is said that it has one of the closest connections to the human voice of all instruments. You see, a harmonica is a "free reed" instrument, which means that the reeds can swing freely back and forth in air, rather than on a "fixed" plane as in that of a sax or a clarinet. This gives it a very vocal quality, allowing you to make notes by both blowing and inhaling through the instrument. These features, combined with the fact that it is portable, make it a very attractive option for one who dares to be bold enough to think outside the box and try something new. 
 Until next time, here are a few videos to give you a sense of what I'm talking about. 



(Stevie Wonder on Harmonica)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Allow Me to Introduce Myself..

My name is Brandon Bailey and I'm a harmonica player. A pretty boring intro I know, but I like to keep things simple. I've been playing harmonica for around 8 years and have built up a small reputation for using a looping pedal and beatboxing to do solo shows. That being said, I like to think of myself as a "harmonica modernist". What's a harmonica modernist? Why, I'm glad you asked.
I consider the modernist to be one who melds the tradition of classic styles and techniques, with the progressive knowledge and music of today to make new sounds in a new way.

This blog is for anyone ( yes that means you) who is curious about the harmonica. I will be posting about a variety of topics which should interest players at any level and in any style. You see, I'm also a harmonica teacher and I don't like to limit my students to any particular way of doing things. My job is to give you a variety of knowledge that can expand your mindset to not only be a better harmonica player, but a better musician in general. So I'll never say that my way is law, nor anyone else's way. Just tools in the box that you can use at will.

I'll keep things short here, but do stay tuned.


-B.O.B