How to Read Harmonica Tablature

Tablature provides an easy way to read and write music for specific instruments, in this case the harmonica.

There are two main things to notice about this tablature: (1) the notes on the top line are “blow” notes and the notes on the bottom line are “draw” notes. As a reminder, at the beginning of each line there is a “B” on top for blow and a “D” for draw; and (2) the numbers represent the hole numbers on the harmonica.

The example above contains 4 measures. The 4/4 at the beginning of the tab designates that each measure contains 4 beats.

The first measure (after the 4/4) contains only 2 notes. These notes (2 draw and 3 blow) are both half notes and each are played for 2 beats.

The second measure in this example begins with 4 eighth notes. Notice that the eighth notes are tied together. Eighth notes receive only 1/2 beat, therefore it would take 8 eighth notes to fill an entire measure. In this measure though the 4 eighth notes are followed by 2 quarter notes that each receive 1 beat. The count on the second measure would be as follows: 1 and 2 and 3    4.

The third measure contains 4 quarter notes. Each quarter note receives one beat so this is a much simpler measure to play that the previous one.

The final measure in the example is a whole note. A whole note receives 4 beats so you hold it for the entirety of the measure.