[Harp-L] What key is the band in?

Greg Heumann greg@xxxxx
Wed Nov 2 10:59:18 EDT 2016

Hi, Mike

Lots of answers. I’ll share the David Barrett “Using your harmonica as a pitch pipe” method. This is what I do. It takes a little practice but all you need is a C harp and you can figure out the key to a tune quickly with no help from anyone. To do this:

1) You need to memorize the names of the notes on the 1st 4 holes of your C harmonica. The blow notes are C-E-G-C and the draw notes are D-G-B-D. Other notes of the scale are there too - bend the 3 hole a half step you get Bb, a whole step you get A - etc. 

2) You need to be able to hear what is the “root note” of the “I” chord of the tune. You can easily learn to recognize it - it is the one note that goes with everything. Humming it helps a lot at first. 

3) So identify the root note, and then find that note among the 1st 4 holes. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom! That’s the key of the song. 

When I first started doing this it took some time, got it wrong once in a while… now I can figure the key of most tunes and pick the right harp to play along with it in about 5 seconds. 



"You’re going to like the way you sound. I guarantee it."

> From: "Mike Schmitt" <mike at xxxxx>
> To: <harp-l at xxxxx>
> Subject: [Harp-L] What key is the band in?
> Message-ID: <09ec01d234aa$e9f5cb10$bde16130$@com>
> Content-Type: text/plain;	charset="us-ascii"
> Are there any tips to figure out what key the guitar player is in? It seems
> like who ever starts the song does not share it and by the time I ask the
> song has already started. Maybe it's just an experience thing? 

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