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.
At 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
Purple music is for four hole harmonicas. Orange music is for ten hole harmonicas. You can click here for the ARROW TAB. 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.
1B 2B 2D 3B 2B 1B 2B 1D
Oh when the Saints, go marching in
4B 5B 5D 6B 5B 4B 5B 4D
2D 2B 2D 3B 2B 1B 1D 1B
Oh when the Saints go marching in
5D 5B 5D 6B 5B 4B 4D 4B
Come on, take me to the Mardi Gras
The biggest celebration of the year in New Orleans is Mardi Gras. In England 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. Today people try to give something up, like chocolate. They can go crazy again when the Easter Bunny comes!
You’ll hear from the entry clip, there is a lot of improvisation going on. Once you’re confident in playing the standard phrases shown above, how could you start to improvise? For those who are stronger players on a 10 hole harmonica, your improvisation could include some high end blow bends.
Key harmonica skills
- Straight Harp (Root in blow 4)
- Single note melody playing
- Rhythm and timing
- Improvisation and jazz