The Beatles – Love Me Do

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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.

Harmonica Keys
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!

Breath Patterns

Start in the middle of the harp and play:

DRAW, BLOW,
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, BLOW,
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.

14 Responses to “The Beatles – Love Me Do”


  • i am a beginner and have one difficulty. what (-3′) means?
    thanks!

    • Hi Danka, thanks for writing. -3′ means 3 draw, with a half-step bend. If you’re a beginner, you’re probably not bending yet. Just try to play the 3 draw clearly, and it should sound fine. For more info, go to the top of this page and click the link for “How To Read Harmonica Tab.” Good luck!

  • I tried playing the bridge but…those aren’t the right notes. On a C diatonic harmonica, you simply can’t hit those notes. You need a C chromatic harmonica (or extreme bending skills on a C diatonic) to play the harmonica notes in the bridge.

    • Hi Sauce, thanks for your comment. I’ve taken a second look and updated the tab. If you take the bridge up an octave, you can play it without bends and just leave out one note. In the low octave, fine-tuned bends are required that are out of reach for beginners, but a good project for intermediate diatonic players. Or you could get a chromatic :)

  • C works great, till you come to the bridge.? find a G works with the bridge. I’m not sure but would think J>L> might have used a C & G Who knows for sure > P. MC. perhaps

    • Harp switching is a good idea for the bridge! There are four phrases. First phrase – G harp. Second phrase – C harp. Third phrase – G. Fourth phrase – C. We’d have to adjust the tab to reflect the harp switching, but that would allow you to play the bridge without requiring bends.

  • What does this – sign mean? Thanks!

  • you know I tried to play this but my harmonica doesn’t play -2 I really don’t know why if you could do you think you have any advice with that? my harmonica and my dad’s does that so yeah if you could that would be great thanks

    • The 2 draw takes some practice. Make sure you’ve got a clear single note on the 2 blow, then gently inhale. There’s probably not a problem with your harmonica, it’s just a skill you have to learn.

  • Can this be played on a tremolo harmonica?

    • Hi Aaron, tremolo harps don’t bend notes, so you’d need to look at my “no bends” tab and adjust to match the tremolo harmonica. Or get a diatonic harmonica! Good luck.

  • Is there a reason to play a 2 draw instead of a 3 blow? I find the 3 much easier during the intro since it’s closer to the other notes

    • Hi Nathan, I choose 2 draw over 3 blow in most cases, because it’s such an important note in cross harp blues playing. Jumping on and off the 2 draw from a hole or two away is a good, meat-and-potatoes harmonica skill to develop. Plus, you can add bends and vibrato on the 2 draw, expression that’s not available on 3 blow. All that said, 3 blow is sometimes way more efficient, and can help in the balance of IN/OUT breathing. However, in 9 out of 10 cases, I’d still suggest working a little harder and learning to make jumps on and off the 2 draw. It’s that important!

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