A Simple Turn-Around

(12 Bar Blues - How to fake it)

This simple turn-around is played when the 12 bar blues does the V-IV-I-V progression at the end of a verse. It's called the turn-around because ends the verse while leading into the first set of chords for the next verse.

You will over the years learn many variations on the turn-around. Every harp player can be recognized by his or her own signature turn-around style, but you will always come back to this simple one. It is especially useful when you are accompanying a guitarist or singer. You will be playing a layer of music below the lead instrument in these cases and they will do the fancy stuff. You want to do an underlying basic riff that will make the leader sound good without grabbing away attention.

This uses the 1 and 2 holes and is very easy to play. First the V chord note.

This is not just six notes. Since blues uses a "flat-tire shuffle" you want to make the notes follow the shuffle pattern. A flat-tire shuffle is the rhythm that a flat tire makes - "da-bop da-bop da-bop da-bop da-bop da-bop".

You must articulate the notes by saying the sounds (dah-de, dah-de, dah-dah). The last dah is emphasized and held.

Now the IV chord note.

Here you say "doo-de, doo-de, doo-doo" holding the last doo a little longer.

Now we're back down to the I chord which as you remember is based on the 2 hole draw.

 

Here again you say "doo-de, doo-de, doo-de, doo-de". This now steps right down into the V chord without a pause with the last part of the turn-around.

You articulate this as "dah-de-dah-dah" holding the last dah until the I chord starts up again.

The tab icons are set so that if you click (or touch) them it will play a harmonica note. All songs are set to play with a "C" harmonica in cross harp (2nd position) so the song or riff will be in the key of "G".
The exception will be the riffs where the little menu comes up and it allows you to play in first or third position or correct the key. You still will use a "C harp, but they song key will be "C" or "D" accordingly.

 

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The JT30 Page Popular links

I began collecting data about the microphones used by blue harp players before there was an internet. I began organizing it into JT30.com in the late 1990s. I accumulated more stuff than I remember. This is some of it.

Street Theory

A Harp Player’s Guide to Music Theory

Learning Harp

Picking Up Blues Harp

A guide to learning to play Blues Harp

Microphone Information

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Harp Amps

I've been collecting Harp Amps for a while. This is the old Harpamps.com website. There is lots of information here. Here a coupld of links.


Harp Tab

A collection of songs and riffs that I’ve worked out over the years, plus some libraries of stuff I’ve converted to tablature. I’ve included most of the notes and instructions that helped me when I was learning to play blues harmonica.

Basic Riffs Simple harp tabs for songs Blues riffs and phrases.

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Harp Frequently Asked Questions