Some Blues song keys


 

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Some Blues song keys...

The following listing gives you a reference of the harp keys used on some famous songs. There is a lot of discussion and confusion  about the key terminology, so I'll try to explain: For a harp player he must know the song key to pick up the correct harp and play, so if the song is in key of E (it means that the band is playing in E), he will take the E harp if he plays in 1st position (recommended if you play on the high register), an A Harp if he plays on 2nd position (recommended if you play on the low registers) or a D Harp if he plays on 3rd position (take a look to the cross-reference table). On the listing below I will write both, the harp and the song keys. I'm getting this information from different sources, some from: "Blues Harmonica Collection" by David McKelvi and "The Definitive Blues Collection" A joint publication of MCA Music Publishing and Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, there are some differences on the song keys between this books, on that case I'll write "The Definitive Blues Collection" song key between parenthesis. The last book contains the lyrics and scores for piano and guitar, not for harmonica, but is an excellent reference, and if you know the key you can improvise and follow the song with your harmonica, it contains 96 blues songs!. (Note that some song keys refers to the original version, may differs with the actual performance key).

Diatonic or Chromatic Harmonicas

Little Walter

  • Ah'w Baby: Song key: G, C Harp, 2nd position.
  • Back Track. Song key: F, Bb Harp, 2nd position.
  • Blues With a Feeling. Song key: A, D Harp, 2nd position. (Song key: F)
  • Boom, Boom Out Go The Lithts, by Stan Lewis. Song key: E, A Harp, 2nd position.
  • Can't Hold Out Much Longer. Song key: G, C Harp, 2nd position.
  • I Hate To See You Go. Song key: G, C Harp, 2nd position.
  • Juke. Song key: E, A Harp, 2nd position.
  • Just Your Fool. Song key: A, D Harp, 2nd position.
  • Off That Wall. Song key: G, C Harp, 2nd position.
  • Mean Old World. Song key: F, Bb Harp, 2nd position. (Song key: G)
  • You're So Fine. Song key: E, A Harp, 2nd position.

Sonny Boy Williamson II

  • All My Love In Vain. Song key: G, C Harp, 2nd position.
  • Cool Disposition. Song key: B, E Harp, 2nd position.
  • Checkin' Up On My Baby. Song key: A, D Harp, 2nd position.
  • Cross My Heart. Song key: C, F Harp, 2nd position.
  • Don't Lose Your Eye. Song key: B, E Harp, 2nd position.
  • Don't Start Me Talkin'. Song key: G, C Harp, 2nd position.
  • Down Child. Song key: C, F Harp, 2nd position.
  • Fattering Frogs For Snakes. Song key: B, E Harp, 2nd position.
  • Help Me. Song key: F, Bb Harp, 2nd position. (Song key: E)
  • I Don't Know. Song key: D, C Harp, 3rd position.
  • Keep It To Yourself. Song key: A, D Harp, 2nd position.
  • Let Me Explain. Song key: G, C Harp, 2nd position.
  • Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide. Song key: G, C Harp, 2nd position.
  • Nine Below Zero. Song key: C, F Harp, 2nd position.
  • Ninety Nine. Song key: F, Bb Harp, 2nd position.
  • One Way Out. Song key: A, D Harp, 2nd postion.
  • Unseen Eye. Song key: G, C Octave-low harmonica, 2nd postion.
  • The Key. Song key: C, F Harp, 2nd position.
  • Too Close Together. Song key: F, Bb Harp, 2nd position.
  • You Killing Me. Song key: D, D Harp, 1st position.
  • Your Funeral And My Trial. Song key: D, G Harp, 2nd position.

Other Sonny Boy Williamson added by Shaggy (Peter Shanks - Australia)

Nice page Javier, here's a few Sonny Boy Williamson keys I've figured out (all on 'The Essential sonny boy Williamson' and EXCELLENT double cd by MCA. CHESS CHD2-9343).
They're all played in second position harp - Ill just list the Tile and harp key here:

  • Born Blind, Bb Harp, 2nd position.
  • Little Village, F Harp, 2nd position.
  • Keep Your Hands Out of My Pocket, Bb Harp, 2nd position.
  • The Goat, D Harp, 2nd position.
  • Santa Claus, D Harp, 2nd position.
  • Temperature 110, F Harp, 2nd position.
  • Lonesome Cabin, F Harp, 2nd position.
  • Somebody Help Me, F Harp, 2nd position.
  • Trust My Baby, Low C Harp, 2nd position.
  • Too Young to Die, G Harp, 2nd position.
  • She's my Baby, F Harp, 2nd position.
  • Stop Right Now, Bb Harp, 2nd position.
  • Too Old to Think, F Harp, 2nd position.
  • Bye Bye Bird, Low C Harp, 2nd position.
  • Bring it on Home, A Harp, 2nd position.
  • Decoration Day, F Harp, 2nd position.
  • Trying to Get Back on my Feet, D Harp, 2nd position.
  • Close to Me, Bb Harp, 2nd position.
  • I Can't be Alone, F Harp, 2nd position.

Jimmy Reed

  • Baby What You Want Me To Do. Song key: F, Bb Harp, 2nd position.
  • Bright Lights, Big City. Song key: A, A Harp, 1st position.
  • Honest I Do. Song key: A, A Harp, 1st position.

Various

  • Baby Please Don't Go, by Joe Williams. Song key: G.
  • Blues Before Sunrise, by John Lee Hooker. Song key: Bb.
  • Boom Boom, by John Lee Hooker. Song key: C.
  • Crossroads, by Robert Johnson, arranged by Eric Clapton. Song key: A.
  • Frisco Blues, by John Lee Hooker. Song key: Eb.
  • Hear Me Talkin' To Ya, by Louis Armstrong. Song Key: C.
  • How Long, How Long Blues, by Lerroy Carr. Song key: C.
  • I Just Want To Make Love To You, by Willie Dixon. Song Key: Eb. (Not sure)
  • I'm A Man (Lester Davenport), by Ellas McDaniel. Song key: G, C Harp, 2nd position.
  • I'm Ready, by Willie Dixon. Song key: E.
  • I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man, by Willie Dixon. Song key: F.
  • I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man, played by Muddy Waters, or E.Clapton. Song key: A, A Harp, 1st Pos.
  • Ice Cream Man (James Dalton & John Brim), by John Brim. Song key: A, A Harp, 1st position.
  • Mean Woman Blues, by John Lee Hooker. Song key: Eb
  • My Babe, by Willie Dixon. Song key: Eb.
  • Rattlesnake (Elmore James & John Brim), by John Brim. Song key: E, A Harp, 2nd postion.
  • Rollin' Stone, by Muddy Waters. Song key: Eb.
  • See See Rider, by Ma Rainey. Song key: C.
  • Sitting On Top Of The World (Howlin' Wolf), by Chester Burnett. Song key: F, Bb Harp, 2nd position
  • Somekestack Lightning (Howlin' Wolf), by Chester Burnett. Song key: E, A Harp, 2nd position.
  • St. Louis Blues, by W.C. Handy. Song key: C.
  • Walkin' By Myself (Jimmie Rogers), by James A. Lane. Song key: A, D Harp, 2nd position. (Song key: Eb)

Users Added

  • My Babe, played by Little Walter. Song key: F, Bb Harp, 2nd pos. Added by Nick Spring (11-26-96)


Subject: Charlie Musselwhite's Rough News

Here it is directly from Charlie:

#1 - Both Sides of the Fence - has a 4th position chromatic solo
#2 - I Sat & Cried - 2nd position diatonic
#3 - Sleepwalk - Filisko low D in 1st position
#4 - Natural Born Lover - 2nd position
#5 - Darkest Hour - guitar and harp 2nd position
#6 - Harlem Nocturne - D chromatic in 1st position
#7 - Drifting Boy - diatonics in 1st & 2nd position
#8 - Rough Dried Woman - 3rd position
#9 - Feel It In Your Heart - 3rd position chromatic
#10 - Rainy Highway - slide guitar
#11 - Clarksdale Boogie - guitar in open tuning
#12 - Rough News - G chromatic in 1st position
Danny

 

I think he used mostly Marine Bands [...]
Born in Chicago is in the key of A on a D harmonica.
As my memory serves, I think:
"blues w/ a feeling" is  G on a C harp
"Thank you Mr. Poobah" is A on a D harp
"Mojo" E on a A harp
 

The following were submitted by  OhioSevere aka Harpin in Dayton:

  • If You Want To Get To Heaven by Ozark Mountain Devils in "C"
  • Red House  by Jimi Hendrix  in B flat
  • Keep Your hands to Yourself  by Georgia Satellites  in "A" (Great break for a harp solo while the guitarist solos and during the hook after the 4 chord which is "D")
  • He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones starts in "G" modulates to "G" sharp after first verse.
  • Satesboro Blues, by The Allman Brothers is in "D"
  • One Way Out by The Allman brothers is in "A"
  • Ain't My Cross to Bear  by The Allman Brothers is in "B" (great song which screams for harp)
  • Call Me the Breeze by Lynard Skynard is in "A"
  • On the Road Again by Canned Heat obviously in "E"
  • L.A. Woman by The Doors is in "A"
  • Little Red Rooster by The Rolling Stones is in "G"
  • I'm A Man by The Yardbirds is in "G"
  • Life's Been Good by Joe Walsh is in "A"
  • Creep from Radio Head is in "G" (nice chords for harp work G Bminor C C minor)
  • Run Through the Jungle by Creedance Clearwater Revival  in "D"
  • Boom Boom Out Go the Lights by Pat Travers Band  in "E"
  • Slow Ride from Foghat in "A"
  • Pride and Joy  by SRV is in "E" flat (though it's played like E on the guitar)
  • Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel is in "A" minor
  • The Wizard by Black Sabbath is in "A"
  • Paranoid and War Pigs by Black Sabbath are in"E"
  • Bad Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce is in "G"
  • I'm The Only One by Melissa Ethridge is in "G"  (but switches to A minor sort of in the bridge though still relative to resolving in G)
  • Give Me One Reason to Stay Here by Tracy Chapman is in "F" sharp
  • Zombie by The Cranberries in "E"
  • Ode To My Family by The Cranberries in "D"
  • People are Strange by The Doors in "E"
  • Train Kept a Rollin' by Aerosmith and The Yardbirds in "D"
  • Lucky Man from Emerson, Lake and Palmer in "D"


     

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