I did a session not long ago for a producer in Austin, TX, for an uptempo Western swing style blues.  I played what I thought was some pretty rippin’ harmonica–four tracks of fast, smooth country style.

I just got the track back from the producer with a request for a harmonica part that’s higher and faster–a request that supposedly came straight from the artist.  I’ve been scratching my head.  First, the piece is in E, which means that the likeliest harp for it is an A harp–a fine harp for blues, but not the world’s highest-pitched instrument.  I’ll have to try a D harp in 3rd position, or an E harp in 1st position next.

That leaves the “faster” part.  Folks, I played that thing pretty damn fast the first time around.  I’m kind of wondering where I cram more speed in. 

It’s occurred to me that maybe what this artist wants is something like John Popper–a million notes per minute, more like a texture than a melody.  I can do that, but it’s not exactly going to sound like Western Swing music.  But apparently some harmonica player sits in with this guy frequently, and that player plays high and fast.

The big question, of course, is why the artist didn’t just hire that harmonica player for this session.  But we’ll leave that question for later, since the only one who can answer it isn’t writing this blog.  In the meantime, I’m going to think high and fast for the rest of the day.