When people start out playing harmonica, they’ve generally been inspired by hearing the instrument in a song. Often as not, they’re hoping to learn how to do this themselves. And after learning the basics, they often run into a brick wall when it comes to finding ways to use what they’ve learned to accompany a song effectively. For many instrumentalists, technical playing skills come to be regarded as an end in themselves, rather than as a means to an end. But for the listener, the song is usually more important than the musical skills of the accompanist.
Harmonica Masters Workshops founder and musical director Steve Baker has spent a lifetime playing harmonica in a wide range of musical styles, often far removed from the blues. He’s able to do this because he learned to systematically break down a tune into its vital functional elements, enabling him to select accompanying melodies and licks which fit to the character of the song. In his class at the Harmonica Masters Workshops 2019, Steve will share with students the methods he uses to figure out appropriate and musically interesting accompaniments for songs, whether in the realm of the blues, or in rock, pop and country music.