When The Saints (USA)

Mardi Gras Harlequin Mask iI want to be in that number

It’s time to learn some traditional jazz on the harmonica! Here’s a song that everybody will recognise. It’s called When The Saints Go Marching In. That’s a long name, so we’ll shorten it to The Saints.

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The Saints started life as an American gospel hymn that was sung quite slowly. Once the Jazz Bands of New Orleans got hold of it though, they really made it swing!

New Orleans Trombone iiiAt funerals in New Orleans, a marching jazz band often accompanies the coffin through the city to the cemetery, playing in a slow, sombre mood. On the way home however, the band jumps into Dixieland tempo, which is sassy, happy and raucous. Let’s look at the tab and learn how to play things Dixieland Jazz style.

Doing The Saints
You can click here for the ARROW TAB. Purple music is for four hole harmonicas. Orange music is for ten hole harmonicas. The number tells you which hole to play. D is draw (breathe in). B is blow (breathe out). We’re using a C major harmonica. Start slowly, memorise each phrase and gradually put it all together.

Mask 21B   2B   2D   3B      1B   2B   2D   3B
Oh when the Saints,  go    marching   in
4B   5B   5D   6B      4B   5B   5D   6B

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1B   2B   2D   3B   2B   1B   2B   1D
Oh when the Saints go marching   in
4B   5B   5D   6B   5B   4B   5B   4D

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Mask 32B   2B   1D   1B   2B   3B   3B   2D
I     want    to     be    in    that number
5B   5B   4D   4B   5B   6B   6B   5D

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2D   2B   2D   3B   2B   1B   1D   1B
Oh when the Saints go marching    in
5D   5B   5D   6B   5B   4B   4D   4B

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Mardi Gras Lamp Post iCome on, take me to the Mardi Gras
The biggest celebration of the year in New Orleans is, of course, Mardi Gras. In the UK, this is Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. In other countries, it’s Carnival or Fasching. This was the time of Lent when people would fast before Easter, turning their thoughts to the forty days and forty nights Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness. Which is where the term quarantine comes from. Today mortals try to forego something for lent, like chocolate, alcohol or coffee. which is a great excuse to go crazy again when the Easter Bunny calls.

You’ll hear from the entry clip, there is a lot of improvisation going on, which is the nature of Dixieland Jazz. Once you’re confident playing the standard phrases above, it’s time to start getting loose with the groove and swinging around some safe notes – and perhaps a few more adventurous ones.

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In the meantime, grab some friends, some backing music and make like a New Orleans Jazz Band. You could even try marching together in a carnival parade.

Key harmonica skills

  • Straight Harp (Root in blow 4)
  • Single note melody playing
  • Rhythm and timing
  • Dynamics
  • Improvisation and jazz

Practise Track

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