For this post, I transcribed Stevie Wonder’s intro solo on “I Was Made To Love Her,” and adapted it to play on 10-hole diatonic harmonica. Stevie played the original solo on a C chromatic harmonica, and my goal was to try and play it as faithfully as possible on the blues harp.
Which Position and Which Key?
“I Was Made To Love Her” is in F major, but the solo contains bluesy minor sounds. What harp and what position would be good for bluesy minor sounds in F? The meat and potatoes blues solution would be 2nd position on a B-flat harp. All the notes are there, from hole 2-6, but it sounds an octave lower than the recording. And the higher octave, holes 6-9, requires an overblow on hole 6. Another option would be first position, up high on an F harp, from holes 7-10. This puts you in the right octave and all the notes are there, but only if you have strong blow bend skills. Most beginners play blow bends better on low harps, I find, and an F is the highest harp most people own. So in the end, I decided to use 3rd position on an E-flat harp, since it gave me the octave I wanted, with a minor sound, and only one really crucial bend.
Many students tend to favor harps in the keys of G, A, Bb, C. In comparison, E-flat is kind of a high harp. But since most of the song is played in the middle octave without bends, the short, stiff reeds actually work for us, by making the harp more responsive and snappy.
1) Play the 8 draw gently, or it will stall.
2) Go easy on the 5 draw bend, it’s only a quarter tone bend, and you don’t have much wiggle room.
3) The last note, -3″, will require practice. Three draw with a whole step bend can be tricky to dial in on your normal harp, and it will feel different on a higher-pitched Eb harp. But even if you NEVER get that last note, the other 99% of the tune should sound great immediately, as long as you have clear single notes and go easy on the 8 draw and 5 draw.