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Mel Bays Improvising Blues Harmonica' by David Barrett & John Garcia

From the Mel Bay School of the Blues Lesson Series, comes this new and enjoyable Improvising Blues Harmonica. The instruction is available in a nice, solid paperback format with accompanying instruction CD. The authors, David Barrett and John Garcia, are both well-known in the jazz world and their writings are highly respected.

Those who have not come into contact with the Mel Bay School of the Blues will find this a fine introduction to a list of instruments including piano, among others. The Mel Bay School of the Blues is unique and dedicated to the study of blues as well as the numerous styles blues has influenced. Those interested in blues harmonica will find this book fascinating, and an enjoyable learning adventure.

The content is programmed in a user-friendly, hands-on approach. Starting with the Foreword which corresponds to CD track number one, it is followed by material covering harmonica notation, and a discussion about what is improvisation.

Chapter 1 covers chorus forms, including the first four measures, repetition, AAA and AAB chorus forms, chord changes with context. Chapter 2 covers licks, riffs, melodies, and phrases with an insightful analysis of modes, arpeggios, chord scales, major and minor pentatonic, blues scale soloing, and intervals. Chapter 3 is about putting together what went before and what the player of the harmonica has learned, and applying it in a meaningful manner. The section on phrase chains is intriguing. Hook and parts of the harmonica are discussed as to importance, and a review of the elements adding unity are analyzed. Chapter 4 is about song analysis and the Chicago Style is covered. Chapter 5 is about focus and learning solos. Other material covered includes blues standards, appendix on scales, and recommended books for further reading.

David Barrett and John Garcia have crafted an imaginative book about blues harmonica, and this is one of the very finest instruction works to come along in years. It makes learning about blues harmonica fun while educating at the same time. Congratulations to the authors and Mel Bay Publications for this excellent book. For further information on Mel Bay Publications, contact the publisher at

Highly recommended. This is the perfect way to learn about improvising blues harmonica.

Additional Info

  • Book Title: Mel Bays Improvising Blues Harmonica'
  • Author: David Barrett & John Garcia
  • Publisher: Mel Bay
  • Year Published: 2008
  • Book Type:: Musical Instruction
  • ISBN: 9780786673216
  • Rating: Four Stars
  • Number of Pages: 80
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