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Tip of the Day: Position playing in a blues context on a diatonic harmonica (key of A) by Thomas Toussaint

David Barrett Admin's picture

Your tip today comes from fellow student Thomas Toussaint. After seeing the latest video interview with Lee Sankey he was inspired to share his approach to understanding chord change relative to position playing.

Video: https://youtu.be/XsuXx1YXYIA

In this video I'm playing examples of how to approach the chord changes in a 12 bar blues progression (either with a 5/4/1 or a 2/5/1 turnaround) thinking in terms of positions.

I'm using a well-known boogie woogie bassline with the following intervals (relative to the chord they're played over): Root/third/fifth/sixth/flat seventh and back. I might not be 100% consistent and play root/third/fifth/sixth/root occasionally or a slight variation but I tried not to deviate from it too much.

With this consistent walking bassline in mind, here's what I do:

00:08 Example 1: 2nd position with a 5/4/1 turnaround
2 3 4 +5 5 +5 4 3 (1 chord, 2nd position)
2 3 4 +5 5 +5 4 3
+1 +2 +3 3" 3' 3" 2 +2 (4 chord, 1st position)
2 3 4 +5 5 +5 4 3
1 2' 3" +4 (5 chord, 3rd position)
+1 +2 +3 3"
2 3 4 +5 5 +5 4 3 2

00:47 Example 2: 2nd position with a 2/5/1 turnaround
2 3 4 +5 5 +5 4 3
2 3 4 +5 5 +5 4 3
+1 +2 +3 3" 3' 3" 2 +2
2 3 4 +5 5 +5 4 3
3" 3 +4 4' 4 +4 3 3" (2 chord, 4th position)
2 3 4 +5 5 +5 4 3 2

01:24 Example 3: 3rd position with a 5/4/1 turnaround
1 2' 3" 3 +4 3 3" 2' (1 chord, 3rd position)
1 2' 3" 3 +4 3 3" 2'
2 3 4 +5 5 +5 4 3 (4 chord, 2nd position)
1 2' 3" 3 +4 3 3" 2'
3" 4' +5 6 (5 chord, 4th position)
2 3 4 +5
1 2' 3" 3 +4 3 3" 2' 1

02:03 Example 4: 3rd position with a 2/5/1 turnaround
1 2' 3" 3 +4 3 3" 2'
1 2' 3" 3 +4 3 3" 2'
2 3 4 +5 5 +5 4 3
1 2' 3" 3 +4 3 3" 2'
+2 2' +3 3"' 3" +3 2' +2 (2 chord, 5th position)
1 2' 3" 3 +4 3 3" 2' 1

02:41 Example 5: 1st position with a 5/4/1 turnaround
+1 +2 +3 3" 3' 3" +3 +2 (1 chord, 1st position)
+1 +2 +3 3" 3' 3" 2 +2
2" 3" +4 4 5 4 +4 3" (4 chord, 12th position)
+1 +2 +3 3" 3' 3" 2 +2
2 3 4 +5 (5 chord, 2nd position)
2" 3" +4 4
+1 +2 +3 3" 3' 3" 2 +2 +1

03:18 Example 6: 1st position with a 2/5/1 turnaround
+1 +2 +3 3" 3' 3" +3 +2
+1 +2 +3 3" 3' 3" 2 +2
2" 3" +4 4 5 4 +4 3"
+1 +2 +3 3" 3' 3" 2 +2
1 +2 2" 2' 2 2" +2 1 (2 chord, 3rd position)
+1 +2 +3 3" 3' 3" 2 +2 +1

Thanks Thomas!