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What keys did Little Walter play in?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:46 pm
by bignick
This may seem like a stupid question but I have been jamming (on guitar) to the double-disc box set of Little Walter and I just wondered what keys he favored?

I'm sure that you harp guys can help me out. I really love blues harmonica and love to try to mimic some of Walter's licks on slide.

If you need songs as a reference:

Juke
My Babe
Blues with a Feeling
Key to the Highway

and damn near the whole 2nd CD - it sounds really really raw and I love it.

etc

Re: What keys did Little Walter play in?

PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 5:09 pm
by barbequebob
Which 2 CD set are you referring to?? Right now there's also a 5 CD set out with all of his stuff other than the sessions he did with Muddy, Jimmy Rogers, John Brim, etc, basically the entire Chess masters.

On the tunes you've listed, here are the song keys and harps and positions being used:

Juke tune is in E, he's using a Marine Band in the key of A, played in 2nd position, which is E.
My Babe same as above
Blues with a Feeling tune is in A, he's using a Marine Band in the key of A, playing in 2nd position, which is A.
Key to the Highway, tune is in G, he's using a Marine Band in the key of C, played in 2nd position, which is G.

The Marine Bands were all tuned to 7 limit just intonation at the time (all the way up to 1985), and presently, the only harps availalbe today tuned this way stock are the Hering 1923 Vintage Harps and the just tuned version of the Suzuki Fabulous.

Re: What keys did Little Walter play in?

PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 5:23 pm
by jeffl
Bob, did you get that "Blues With a Feeling" right? Did you mean to say 2nd position is a D harp to play the tune in the key of A? Or did you mean the tune is in E?

Re: What keys did Little Walter play in?

PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:47 pm
by barbequebob
Blues With A Feeling is played in the key of A, and the harp he 's using is a Marine Band tuned to the key of D, played in 2nd position, which is A. Thanks for noticing and here's the correction.