In this article, I’ll show you how to play the complete intro to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”, which is played with a diatonic harmonica tuned in the Key of C.
For those who already read music, I also include the complete score (sheet music) with its corresponding tab.
In general, this is a very accessible song to play, since it does not require special techniques such as bending; each note is reached directly and this makes it ideal for a beginners’ level.
All you need is an adequate control and good execution of the “double stops”; that is, playing two cells that are together, at the same time. To verify, for example, the correct sound of the blow 4 and 5, you can firmly cover all cells using the index fingers of each hand but leaving those two holes free, and then try to reproduce the sound without the fingers, this time blocking with your lips.
In this case, we´re talking about double notes that are not so difficult to play since they are found mainly in the middle register of the harmonica (between cells 4 and 7). The double stops used throughout the song are (from lowest to highest): 3 and 4 blow, 3 and 4 draw, 4 and 5 blow, 4 and 5 draw, 5 and 6 blow, and 5 and 6 draw.
Volume variations are also used during the song, applied in the passage from measure 7 to 8 (crescendo) at the beginning of the third staff and in the last two measures (in the resolution of the introduction) by applying a diminuendo or decrescendo. Diminuendo or decrescendo is a dynamics’ instruction that indicates a gradual decrease in volume. The crescendo is the opposite. In the score, you’ll see two lines forming an angle that opens to the right when a crescendo is suggested and to the left when a decrescendo is needed. The most technically challenging issue in this song is the embouchure changing passage from single note to double notes.
Simplified version using single notes
Original version using double notes
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