Skip to main content

Tour the Site

Click here to watch a video tour of what the inside of the site looks like. Take the tour now. >>

Levels of Achievement

Click here for our system of mastery for all skill level blues harmonica students.

Line Thirteen

Brothergerr's picture

I had a lot of fun trying to put together this entry. I am very new to tongue blocking and this is also my first ever attempt to put a musical piece together, but it was a blast. The song is played on a quite battle worn Special 20 harmonica in the key of G. The song uses octaves, tongue slaps and pulls, bends (especially on the 3 hole draw), hand effects and vibrato, and tongue switching. I tried to be selective and not throw in every single technique for the harmonica, but instead just try and get a groove going in the song and express the sounds in my head. The title of the song was inspired by my daily commute on line 13 here on the Beijing metro system which has ups and downs and stops and starts. I wanted the piece to have that kind of feeling; almost like rolling through the country side. I wanted to work on it as long as possible and hence why I am uploading it so close to the wire. The downside of doing that is that today I have a blocked nose which made breathing very difficult, but I got there in the end. HAHA!

Thanks to Dave Barrett for giving us the opportunity to do this in such a supportive environment.

Best of luck everyone!



Madcat's comments:

Peter Madcat Ruth's picture

Fun piece... The repetition is nice. The speed-up at 1:16 was a bit of a surprise, but train trips are full of surprises.
It might be nice to have another theme (hook) with a greater contrast to the main theme (hook).

Thank you for your comments

Brothergerr's picture

Thank you for your comments Peter, all of the feedback that I have received from yourself and the other players is invaluable. Glad you enjoyed my little composition. :)


Joe Filisko's picture

Yeah! Good groove and fantastic use of repetition. The acceleration worked for me and the "G" was a good choice. I was also liking the minor pentatonic theme you had going on. Made it very low down, especially with that fast nervous vibrato you had going on your 3. I would like to challenge you to try and not use the 2 exhale note and use the 2 inhale full bend instead. You could resolve on 3 exhaling instead of 2 inhaling. Another trick is to try and incorporate more BIG full chords into it. Instead of a 2 inhale or 3 exhale, use the BIG inhale chord for maximum tone and chugging horsepower. JF

Thanks JF!

Brothergerr's picture

I think that it is just awesome that something I wrote and recorded gets the chance to pass by the great Joe Filisko's ears. I really appreciate the feedback you have given and I will experiment with the advice that you gave me on the two hole draw and chords. At the time I opted to use the two hole blow during that section, simply for speed, comfort and breath control, but it will be interesting to see how the whole step bend on the 2 hole will affect things and to play with how best to fit in that large inhale chord. Thanks again!


Love the tempo changes

JayMcC28's picture

Hey, I love the tempo changes throughout the piece. After reading your intro it totally makes sense. Nice job.

Thanks for the comment, I am

Brothergerr's picture

Thanks for the comment, I am glad you liked it!

Comments - Tom Ball

Tom Ball's picture

This one uses several different techniques to good advantage. Your tongue blocking is well done, both for slaps and for splits/octaves. The piece is aptly titled in that it does indeed resemble the way a train travels – ie gaining and then losing speed. I bet this would be easier to play on a higher harp, but your choice of a G sounds great. Yeah, man!

Thanks for taking the time to

Brothergerr's picture

Thanks for taking the time to listen and to comment. I had experimented playing this piece on higher harps but it just didn't have the same sound as the G harp or at least it did not come across that way on the early test recordings. The low sounds of the G harp gave a better "clacking" noise as I opened and closed my hands rapidly at certain points in the composition. All this wonderful feedback we are getting from top players like yourself is just pure gold. Thanks again!

Comments - David Barrett

David Barrett's picture

You have nice tone. All of your tongue block techniques sound good and the head that you present in the beginning of the song is catchy. These types of pieces use change to bring interest, with repetition being the glue that holds it together... and you did just that. Great job on your first contribution.

Thanks David for taking the

Brothergerr's picture

Thanks David for taking the time to listen to my entry and give some feedback. Much appreciated.

Great sound!

Spl20's picture

I really enjoyed this rhythm, very catchy!!


Brothergerr's picture

Thanks for the feedback, glad it got your foot tapping!

Cool Stuff!

tomsnow's picture

I really enjoy your sound and the riff sounds great too! Good Idea. I'd like to hear more of your playing. You gonna be a Great tongue Blocker with a deep and rich tone. Very Bluesy. The real stuff!

Glad you enjoyed it!

Brothergerr's picture

Hi tomsnow,

I am really glad you enjoyed what I put together. It is only the second time I recorded anything. The first time was my submission to David Barrett of Walk With Me. I can still hear mistakes in my playing in that piece, but I decided that if I did not submit that recording then it was never going to happen. :)

Great work!

jodanchudan's picture

Your comment about making it sound like a train rolling through the countryside is spot on - I think you've captured the feel of a journey very well and your technique does a great job of conveying that. I think this would be a great thing to listen to on a commute!


Brothergerr's picture

Thanks for the nice comment jodanchudan ( head-stomach ;) ). It was a lot of fun to put together and went through several versions before I finally settled on this one. In saying that if David Barrett had not put a deadline on this competition I would still be noodling around with it.


kevin jean's picture

doesn't sound like TBlocking is new to you...Very professional job!

Glad you liked it.

Brothergerr's picture

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for the nice feedback. I am really only in the early stages of learning how to TB well and bend well using TB, but I have spent many hours experimenting what TB has to offer in terms of allowing a player to supporting a melody and play rhythm at the same time. It has been really fun, but there is still so much left to explore and I am really looking forward to it. I am really finding that TBing adds that fullness that I had always heard on the classic blues cuts and it just makes playing feel that much more powerful. :)

Very tasty!

robfraser's picture

That's a smart piece man. Great TB'ing and I love the main riff and that expressive 3 draw! A nice combination of steady rhythm and variation to keep the number interesting right to the end. Very catchy!

Thanks for the feedback. I

Brothergerr's picture

Thanks for the feedback. I think you just ticked the box of everything that I was hoping to achieve with my entry. :) There is a lot of repetition, but each repetition is varied slightly and that was a challenging thing for me to keep track of as I played, so thanks for noticing. Glad you liked it!

Thanks for the nice comment

Brothergerr's picture

Thanks for the nice comment Hank. The original concept for the song ran to about four minutes and had more in it, but after some time I realized it would be better to strip it down to the essentials and keep it short and interesting. My TBing needs so much work, but sure that's why I am here! Back to the study songs for me. :)

Lucky Thirteen

hank stefaniak's picture

Man, that's jam packed with good techniques. For a new t b'er, you sure have picked it up well. I like the way you kept it moving!!