Hans Scale - Junior Year Tunes Lesson 2

The previous blues lessons taught many riffs, or musical phrases, which combined to form solos. The current lessons teach a different set of musical phrases, designed to help play tunes. In particular, we continue with "first position" playing, where the tune is in the same key as the harmonica. Recall that the blues lessons focussed on second position, for example, using a C harmonica to play blues in the key of G.

The fundamental musical phrase is the scale. We looked at the major scale in an earlier lesson. Now we play a more advanced scale exercise, which will better prepare us for phrases encountered in the tunes. I learnt this exercise from my teacher, Hans-Dieter Michatz, and so I call it the "Hans scale"

It begins with a C scale plus one note, going up, then coming down. Use a C harmonica, starting on hole 4. The notes are

4B 4D 5B 5D 6B 6D 7D 7B 8D 7B 7D 6D 6B 5D 5B 4D 4B

and sound like this


Now play this phrase

4B 4D 5B 4D 4B 4D 5B 4D 4B 4D 5B 5D 6B 5D 5B 4D

sounding like this


The entire exercise is the first phrase, played twice, followed by the second phrase, played twice, followed by the first phrase again, played twice. It sounds like this


This is a powerful exercise, which I have used for many years in my own practice.

When you can play the exercise cleanly, then play it with this backing


Hopefully the backing makes it easier to keep in time. The backing speed is 60 beats per minute.

Here are backings for the same exercise at

70 beats per minute


80 beats per minute


90 beats per minute


100 beats per minute


110 beats per minute


120 beats per minute


It may take many months of practice before you can play the exercise cleanly at the faster speeds (I had to practice a lot before I could do it). Be patient. Do not move to a higher speed until you can play perfrectly at the slower speeds.

The tune for this lesson is Soldiers Joy. This uses the exercises from the previous lesson, as well as the scales from this lesson. It is important to memorise this tune, along with all the others, as you will play them better.

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