Rick Estrin

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Half Steppin'

Seventh Chorus Breakdown

This week we've got verse 7 of Half Steppin'. This is a riff verse with a strong rhythm component. The riff that we're playing on the I uses the 2/5 split, or partial 7th chord, alternating with some of the same type of little foundational chords we were using to keep the groove afloat in verses one and two. Then, we go down to holes one, two and three for the IV but maintaining thematic continuity by using a similar phrasing to the riff from the I. And this week, as always, it's essential to feel that groove!





Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
key of E
Chicago Blues
A Harp
Rick Estrin

Backing Track

Print Print Chords & Tab

A Harp in the Key of E.

Loop 0:25 Verse 7 Acoustically

Loop 1:07 Breakdown of First 4 Bars

Loop 3:08 Breakdown of IV Chord and Back to I (Bars 5 and 8)

Loop 7:07 V Chord and Turnaround Breakdown (Bars 7 - 12)

Loop 10:28 Practice Loop of All 12 Bars

Loop 11:27 Variation and Feeling the Groove

Loop 12:54 Slow Practice Loop of All 12 Bars

Loop 14:14 Closing Thoughts





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Tominou Mar 12, 2017

Hey guys, (and ladies)

I noticed that little roll of your head too some weeks ago, for my part a twist mouvement of the harmonica accompanies it and I was sure it increased the vibrato effect. Sometimes I've tried to imitate it but it's not natural and I'm totaly ridiculous doing it. Now I know I can stop it, thanks Bill and Rick.

Last day I was looking at an hamilton watch in a form of a triangle, very expansive price. It made me think about yours, Rick, and my reflexion was: with that one on my arm, would I be cooler, would it be easier to get the tricks in my pocket like my master says?

So much time passed to learn from you, it's difficult not to be tempted to become your clone!

This sequence 2-5 quickly alternating with part of the lick rhythm then entire rhythm lick, is nice to hear and hard to play, like often...

Listening to your amplified performance, I can see and hear 2 times you slide on the harp ending a note, It may be useful to someone to make the chorus sounding nice (it is without of course).

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Jan 28, 2019

Hi Tomi - Teaching here on Sonic Junction has been a learning experience for me too. Some of what I've learned is that there're a few things I that I do unconsciously, that I was previously completely unaware of. All I can tell you about the watch is that it's more durable and sweat-resistant than some other watches I've worn on gigs. 

Bill Blatner
Bill Blatner Mar 05, 2017

Thanks.  Good to know for practicing purposes.  The vibrato seems so important to me, not as an affect but as a way of feeling that a note is resonating in the context of the chord.  I first got the vibrato puckering and it happened without trying.  It comes from a vibration of my tongue in a way I can't do when tongue blocking because my tongue is occupied.  It has the same feel as singing a note and having it ring in that way.  Getting that resonating feel from a throat vibrato is still getting there for me but it happens often enough that I know how right it feels and it keeps me working on it.  I really notice all the places, big and small, where you do it.

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Mar 05, 2017

Hi Bill - Yeah, feel free to ask me anything. It's funny for me to learn about things that I'm completely unaware I'm doing.

Bill Blatner
Bill Blatner Mar 04, 2017

Hey Rick,

I love the cough.  Junior Wells was a master at that right?  Making percussive sounds in between harmonica notes?  I hope you disinfect that harmonica though.  We want you back.

So I notice when you get a quick vibrato, especially on the two and three hole bends, you do a little head shake.  Is that actually part of the technique of getting the vibrato, or maybe something that helps keep the groove, or maybe you're just styling?  Like at the end of the phrase in the 4-chord when you hit the 3-hole bend - that vibrato makes it sound so great.



Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Mar 04, 2017

Hi Bill - That's news to me! I'll take a look and get back to you.

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Mar 04, 2017

Yes Bill - I checked and you're absolutely right - again! I was unaware I was doing that. I'm not sure why I do it - I think it's mostly just some feel/involuntary body language thing. I tried playing the lick while keeping my head completely stationary and I couldn't notice any discernible difference in the sound or the effect. The vibrato is generated from my throat. l actually do another thing like that. When I hold a long slow vibrato, my jaw goes slightly up and down. Same deal - Somebody asked me about it and I was completely unaware I was doing it. I looked in the mirror, and could see I was doing it. Then I made a conscious effort to keep my jaw still and sonically, the difference was basically undetectable.

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