The Ins and Outs of Rhythm Harp

Peter Madcat Ruth

Percussive Techniques for Blues Players

60-minute video, includes written material on pdf file A "C" harmonica will be needed to play along with this lesson.
  • Code:DLRTHHA22
  • Skill Level:Near-Beginner (2)

Dynamic rhythm technique is as important for blues harpers to know as lead playing, and Peter Madcat Ruth is a master of this genre. On this entertaining and enlightening lesson, he teaches the driving rhythms, percussive sounds and other traditional back-up techniques that will propel your blues harmonica playing to new heights.

Through a series of interactive exercises, progressing from the most basic concepts to advanced polyrhythms, you'll explore a variety of techniques for getting your harmonica going as a rhythm instrument. Madcat breaks down the complexities of breath control by teaching his own unique system of spoken syllables. These will be the building blocks that you'll use to construct the foot-stomping drive that characterizes so many of the great harp players, from Sonny Boy Williamson to Sonny Terry.

Madcat teaches his "home base" rhythm (so called because you can always come back to it after improvisational adventures), train sounds, the boogie-shuffle ("John Lee Hooker style"), Sonny Terry's dramatic "hoots and hollers" and other compelling rhythmic variations. Along the way you'll acquire essential harp techniques such as tongue rolls, hand wah-wah, articulated percussive sounds, and much more.

Peter Madcat Ruth started his musical career in the Chicago area in the early 1960s, playing folk and blues on guitar and harmonica. By the late 60s he had immersed himself in the Chicago blues and was studying harmonica with the great Big Walter Horton. Madcat moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where he became a key presence in two of Ann Arbor's finest progressive rock bands, New Heavenly Blue and Sky King. By the mid 70s he was touring the world with jazz pianist Dave Brubeck before going solo and infusing the folk/blues tradition with elements of rock and jazz. In the 90s, Madcat toured extensively with the duo Madcat & Kane.

In 1997, Peter Madcat Ruth was named Harmonica Player of theYear by the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica (SPAH). Madcat is now considered one of the best harmonica players on the planet. He continues to tour with Madcat & Kane, Chris Brubeck's trio Triple Play, and other ensembles.


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