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A Lesson on Breath Patterns and the Almost Blues Scale
In this lesson, I’m going to offer my perspective as a harmonica teacher on how to handle the song Love Me Do, by The Beatles. I’ll teach you a couple of options for breath patterns, plus a scale, give you some pointers for how to approach each section, and let you use your ears to polish it up into the actual song.
This was one of the first songs I figured out by ear on diatonic as a kid, but I recently learned that on the recording, John actually plays a CHROMATIC harmonica! Happily, you can play most of the song on a C diatonic, even if the bridge does require extra attention. Personally, I’ve worked out three diatonic versions of the bridge – one with bends, one with skipped notes, and one that switches from a C harp to a G harp without bends. It can be done!
Start in the middle of the harp and play:
DRAW, BLOW BLOW
BLOW BLOW BLOW
moving gradually from the middle of the harp toward the lower end.
This will lead you to resolve on 3 blow, which sounds ok, but to build into a stronger blue-style player, you’ll need to get used to resolving to 2 draw. It’s the same note, but on the IN breath. Here’s an a breath pattern with that in mind:
DRAW, DRAW DRAW
DRAW DRAW DRAW
Again, you’ll start in the middle of the harp, and work your way lower, but this time, where you shifted to 3 blow in the first example, you’ll aim for the 2 draw for the last five puffs of air.
The “Almost Blues” Scale
-2 -3 4 -4 -5 6
For a bluesier sound, try to land slightly bent on 3 draw, and feel free to bend the 4 draw. Not bending yet? You’ll need clear single notes and practice with your bending technique. I’ve got downloadable harmonica video lessons on both.
Don’t stress about it, though. The vocal melody, when the singing starts, is simply the last three notes of that scale, starting on 4 draw, walking up up to 6, then walking back to -4, and back and forth. No bends required there.
The refrain can be played using the first two notes of the scale, 2 draw and 3 draw, but again, it’ll sound gutsier and bluesier, if you can hit 3 draw in a slightly bent position (a half-step, to be precise).
Bends vs. Overblows vs. Harp Switching
The bridge “Someone to love…” alternates between a major key sound and a bluesier, more minor sound. To play this on a single harp requires either precise control of bends on 2 and 3 draw in the low octave, or an overblow on hole 5 when playing the melody up in the middle octave. Neither is a good option for a beginner.
Work on your bending skills, starting with playing draw bends in tune, but consider harp switching in the meantime:
You’ll be trying to find the melody up in the high octave…
G harp – start on 8 draw, go down the major scale to find the other three notes.
C harp – start on 6 blow, go down the almost blues scale to 4 draw.
Repeat these two phrases and you’ve got the bridge, no bends or overblows required!
This file is the author’s own work and represents his interpretation of this song. It’s intended solely for private study, scholarship or research.