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"Mary Jane's Last Dance"; What key harmonica?


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  • "Mary Jane's Last Dance"; What key harmonica?

    Yes, I know that "Mary Jane's Last Dance" is super tired and every band plays it, but it still works, and the girls love it, which is why every band plays it.  We just learned it and our singer wants to play the harmonica part.  What key harmonica would be used if the song is in Am?


  • #2
    You could use a couple different ones but a G harp is probably best. Could maybe use a C harp as well


  • #3
    G harp for blues in C.
    G is the 5th of C,
    C is the 4th of G.
    So when you say 4th or 5th depends on your frame of reference.
    I prefer to think in terms of what key is the music in. If the music is blues in F, I pick a harp that is the 5 of F. C is the 5 of F, so you use a C harp to play blues in F.
    F is indeed the 4 of C but that seems backward to me.


    • #4

      Most everyone is saying the right answer, but here's the theory spin:


      When you are trying to get a bluesy sound, the mixolydian mode works great. Speshilly since the mouth harp can bend notes and double stops.


      When you play a major scale starting on the fifth degree to the 12th degree of that scale, you are playing the mixolydian mode in the key of the fifth degree's letter name. Examp: the 5th degree of C major is G. Playing the notes of the C major scale starting on G and ending an octave higher (on G 8va), is the G mixolydian mode. In other words, in G mixolydian, C major is it's "parent" scale.


      The diatonic mouth harp (blues harp) only has the notes of a specific major scale on it (Examp: G harp only has the 8 notes of the G major scale on it).  So, in order to play the mixolydian mode, you must use the harp to play the "parent" scale....So when you are jamming in G blues, you use the C harp to get the mixolydian sound.


      Bending and manipulating the reeds, help to create different sounds and in certain situations, different modes depending on where you start and which notes you bend. Howard, the original harp/keyboard guy from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones could get all 12 chromatic notes out of a blues harp with bends and could play any scale on one diatonic harp. But then again, he was a freakin jeenyus....just ask Little Walter.

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