Here’s a fun variation on the basic Leapfrog scale pattern – it’s a step backwards, then a leapfrog forward.
Imagine a frog that moonwalks backwards one place, then hops over the next frog.
For our example here, let’s use the 1st position major pentatonic scale, played on a C harmonica, in the middle octave to minimize bends.
Major Pentatonic Scale
C D E G A C 4 -4 5 6 -6 7
C A G E D C 7 -6 6 5 -4 4
Going up, this should sound kind of like the opening riff from “My Girl,” by The Temptations.
Moonwalk Leapfrog Pattern
First we go up…
D C E D -4 4 5 -4 G E A G 6 5 -6 6 C A D C 7 -6 -8 7
…then we come back down.
A C G A -6 7 6 -6 E G D E 5 6 -4 5 C D A C 4 -4 -3" 4
Extra High, Extra Low Notes
Notice that because of the leapfrog approach, we end up shooting past the C on both ends, and grabbing an extra note on the outside edges of our octave. Going up, that means a high D on the 8 draw and coming down, that means a low A on the 3 draw, whole step bend.
That low A is the only bend required when you play this pattern in the middle octave. Play it if you can, and if you don’t have that bend yet, focus on playing the rest of this pattern fluidly.
A good next step with the Moonwalk Leapfrog pattern would be to try it with the second position major pentatonic scale, starting at 2 draw. Then try the 12th position major pentatonic scale, starting on 2 draw, whole step bend.
I like taking the same scale through different positions, because your ear will recognize the sound, even though you’re starting relatively higher or lower. That’s why we’re focusing here on one sound, the major pentatonic scale.
But of course, this will also work with the minor pentatonic scale. Build your cross harp blues skills by trying this on the second position minor pentatonic scale, and the relative minors of the positions previously discussed – 4th position minor pentatonic (same as 1st pos maj pent), 5th position minor pentatonic (same as 2nd pos maj pent) and 3rd position minor pentatonic (same as 12th pos maj pent).
Did I just totally make your head spin by talking about other positions and scale relationships? That’s ok. Take the first part of this article and get comfortable with it. As you move along, you might want to spend some time studying scales and patterns in terms of scale degrees, for example, in the key of C, the note C is 1, the note D is 2, the note E is 3, etc. This will help you move musical ideas (scales, melodies) more easily from one position to another.