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Being able to play positions, playing in other keys on the same harmonica, is a fairly standard requirement for the blues harp player.  Most players use just 1st, 2nd and 3rd.  I have created some unusal study songs that focus on unusual positions like 5th and 6th which are seldom heard in traditional blues, but have a value for minor blues.  3rd position is often thought of as minor, but here I do have one for minor blues and another for standard blues.  The 1st position study song, 1-P Blues, is great study of the entire 10 hole range of the harmonica which is unusual because of how seldom the middle range is ever used in this position.

Playing the Positions

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1-P Blues Download1-P Blues DownloadThis song is a study of 1st position or straight harp blues in the straight eight note rumba groove. The very first known recording of blues harp was actually played in 1st position on January 31, 1924, and up until John Lee Williamson and Sonny Terry started recording in 1937, the percentage of 1st and 2nd position. . .
3 P Blues Download3 P Blues DownloadThis song is a study of what harp players call "third position." It is playing with hole 1, 4 & 8 inhale becoming your new "home" or "root note." Third position was first recorded by Little Walter in December, 1951 and has become a part of nearly every professional’s sound and style, being used somewhere from 10% to 25% of the time. It can become very helpful when navigating through minor key songs but as this piece shows, does not necessarily have to be used exclusively as minor. It works with all blues.
3pm Rumba Download3pm Rumba DownloadThis is a study of the blues rumba played in a minor key similar to Howlin’ Wolf’s song, “Who’s Been Talking” and executed in third position, Bm on an “A” harp. . . .
5-P Blues Download5-P Blues DownloadThis song will help you to play in what is known to most harp players as 5th position. Instead of having the 2 hole inhale as your root, it is now your 2 hole exhale. This position is great for minor keys as the flat 3rd, flat 6th and flat 7th are readily available. While this particular arrangement will work great for "C#m," it also works just as well for the key of "C#," more commonly known as "Db." Your greatest challenge on this piece will be to avoid the "danger tones" which are 1 & 4 exhale and 5 inhale. This piece will also work without a "Quick IV."
6-P Blues Download6-P Blues DownloadThis song is a study of the 6th position with a nod to Rice Miller's "Help Me" and Booker T's "Green Onions." Please do make note that "Help Me" was NOT played in 6th position nor am I implying that it should be. Just happens to work fairly well. The very first known recording of blues harp in 6th was played by Eddie Mapp in a Curley Weaver song called "No No Blues" on May 26, 1929. There doesn't appear to be any other recordings of 6th until Little Walter took a one-chorus chromatic harp solo in an instrumental called "That's It" on July 23, 1953. 6th position is the most uncommon of the 7 modal positions. I personally have found that there is a fair amount of potential for it is as a blues position and hope to convey that potential in this piece.
First Straight Shuffle DownloadFirst Straight Shuffle DownloadThis is a study of how to begin to start and incorporate the skill of first position or, straight harp blues playing.  Up until 1937, about half of the blues playing was in second position and the other half in first.  Currently, blues harp styles are taught starting off with second position.  This is a beginning approach to playing straight harp blues while using all 10 holes.  . 
Minor Third Shuffle DownloadMinor Third Shuffle DownloadThis is a study of minor key blues and third position.  Minor keys are more challenging on the harp than standard blues keys.  Third position is one option worthy of study for minor keys.  It was first recorded by Little Walter on the Muddy Waters song Lonesome Day in 1951. . . 
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