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Artists Study

Different played had different approaches, licks, techniques and tone to playing blues.  Here you can find my study songs that are designed to give you some insights into what players like Big Walter Horton, Rice Miller (Sonny Boy2), John Lee (Sonny Boy1) Williamson and Sonny Terry had going on to give them their special masterful sound.

Artists Focused Study Songs

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Bird Instrumental 3 DownloadBird Instrumental 3 DownloadThe goal with this LEVEL III instrumental is to continue to build upon the Level I & Level II versions of this song that you have memorized. It’s quite likely that you will need a minimum of a year of experience before attempting this. The new techniques you will use are vamping (v) and the rapid vamping (RV) chordal effect heard on tracks 4, 8, 10, 12, 16 & 18. . .
Boogie Instrumental 3 DownloadBoogie Instrumental 3 DownloadThe goal with this LEVEL III instrumental is to continue to build upon the Level I & Level II versions of this song that you have memorized. It’s quite likely that you will need a minimum of a year of experience before attempting this. The new techniques you will use are dirty notes, ornamental bending, vamping and the split-4 block. . .
Bye Bye Byrd DownloadBye Bye Byrd DownloadThis is a beginning-intermediate, 6 chorus instrumental that focuses on the style of harp legend Rice Miller and designed to help develop techniques and abilities that can put the player on a path to better understand the blues harmonica sound.
Lesson includes the song played acoustically and played amplified in it's complete form. . .
Chasin' Lost Sonny DownloadChasin' Lost Sonny DownloadPlease note that there are two things different about this song, “Chasin' Lost Sonny.”  
First, it is twice the price.  That is because it was at least twice as hard to prepare as anything else here in the Filisko Store.  
The second is that there is not a single defined final arrangement for the song but instead, numerous building blocks that you will need to arrange into your own version of Sonny's stylistic.  If you goal is to capture his special style, you will need to do a lot of listening to the numerous versions of this type of piece that he recorded.  Some of those are listed in the song notes.  You will hear these building blocks and countless variations of them.  Please also go back and review the song notes often and continually listen to the sample tracks on the CD. 
Henry's Lament DownloadHenry's Lament DownloadThis is a study of the first known cross harp approach to playing the harmonica that was originally often referred to as “choking.” Henry Whitter recorded a few versions of this in 1923 called “Rain Crow Bill Blues” and “The Old Time Fox Chase” followed by “Weepin’ Blues” and “Rabbit Race” in 1924 and “Lost John” in 1925. . . .
I Need My Baby Blues DownloadI Need My Baby Blues DownloadThis song is a study of the style of Walter Horton and how we would likely play a melodic type of blues. Please pay careful attention to the anticipated / swung notes & chords, the quarter note triplets in the solo page and on page 7, and the consistent use of throat tremolo. As a long term goal, please work towards incorporating the use of bright head tones. ALWAYS be listening to Walter's recordings!!!
8 pages of instruction notations and 26 instruction tracks
Jail W Blues DownloadJail W Blues DownloadLevel III -  This is a study of the style and techniques of John Lee Williamson (JLW) a.k.a. Sonny Boy Williamson #1. His largely acoustic playing style may be the most imitated acoustic blues style in the 1930's, 40's and 50's. Play all clean single notes using tongue blocking and switch for hole #1. John Lee was the master at playing dirty with great precision. He even applied it to the splits not shown in this study. You should first learn this piece clean and then slowly try to incorporate in the "dirt."
Jerry's Cajun Blues DownloadJerry's Cajun Blues Downloadhis is a study of the Cajun approach to playing the harmonica which seems to have first been recorded by Arteleus Mistric on November 7, 1929 and later by players like Isom Fontenot and my dear brother Mr. Jerry Devillier, for whom this song is named.  Key to the Cajun approach is playing lots of splits that outline the chord changes and keep the rhythm pumping accurately with the breath pulse.  This is exactly what the single row Cajun accordion is doing.  It is basically tuned just like the harmonica.  Check out the Filisko Tongue Block Trainer if you need help developing accuracy with your splits.
John Lee's BluesJohn Lee's BluesThis song is a study of the style of John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson #1 who recorded from 1937 to 1948.  If you already have my study song “Jail W. Blues,” you may not need this as it is easier, but has an accompaniment part behind the guitar solo.  His driving aggressive big sound & tone playing approach is the foundation of the Chicago Blues playing style. . . 
Little Boogie DownloadLittle Boogie DownloadThis song is a study of one of the blues harmonica essentials, playing a boogie riff. In the late 1940’s and early 50’s, this style of piece was recorded by Walter Horton, who appears to have called himself “Little Walter,” Forrest City Joe and Jimmy Rogers with more to follow. If you are able to play the first few bars with confidence and good rhythm, you will be able to start the song without a count-off and signal the band in at the IV chord. This song is also a warm-up for the study song “Shakey’s Boogie,” which is a warm up for the classic instrumental“Walter’s Boogie.”
Rice Cool Blues DownladRice Cool Blues DownladThis song is a study of the style and techniques of Rice Miller, a.k.a. Sonny Boy Williamson #2 . . .
Shakey's Boogie DownloadShakey's Boogie DownloadThis song is a study of Walter Horton and how he would play a boogie type of blues. . .
Skip to My Lou DownloadSkip to My Lou DownloadThis is a great song to help comprehend many aspects of the intricate playing styles of DeFord Bailey, Kyle Wooten and other solo players. All the notes are easily available in two octaves and the chords fit and support the melody perfectly in the low octave. This will touch on some of the most obvious ways to ornament what happens underneath and around the melody. . . 
Sonny's Shuffle DownloadSonny's Shuffle DownloadThis song is a study of the 12 bar blues acoustic shuffle playing of Sonny Terry with most of his characteristic unique sounds, techniques, licks and phrases. It is my opinion that Sonny’s default embouchure is a one-hole tongue block
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