“Work Song”: Butterfield vs Clarke class recording


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Trumpeter/Cornetist Nat Adderley recorded “Work Song” in 1960 and this jazz standard was adopted by a handful of harmonica giants. Don’t let the word “jazz” scare you away. This gorgeous melody is very approachable in 2nd and 3rd position.

Check out this YouTube playlist containing each version of the song including the original composition and a backing track in F minor which can be used for 2nd position on a Bb harmonica.

Paul Butterfield played it in the key of F minor on a Bb harp (2nd position), while William Clarke tackled the song on a C chromatic in the key of D minor (3rd position).  There’s not too much bending that’s needed to accomplish the melody in either position really which makes this beautiful melody appropriate for all level players!

For this class, we will learn the melody in the key of F minor on a Bb harmonica, (2nd position); as well as in the key of D minor on a C harmonica (3rd position). We will work with diatonic harmonicas primarily but I will discuss a bit of Clarke’s approach on the chromatic for those who are interested in learning how to play it on chromatic. Transferring from diatonic to chromatic (and vice versa) isn’t too tough. By learning this melody in both 2nd and 3rd position you’re really getting a clear picture of how to transpose not only melodies but any musical idea from one position to another.


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