When learning to play in a new position it is a good idea to get to know where to the most important notes are. If you know where the chord tones of the I, IV and V chord as well as a few scales you are in good shape. Third position is a popular especially for minor blues so knowing some third position scales is a good idea.
Most of the time we reference a C harmonica when talking about specifics. Playing a C harmonica in third position will put you in the key of D. This means that the root note of any scale will be on 1, 4 and 8 draw. One way of looking at it is that third position is second position two holes up. For reference, take a look at the circle of fifths and try to make out for yourself why third position on a C harmonica is the key of D.
The blues scale
A you may already know the blues scale in scale degrees is:
Root b3 4 b5 5 b7 root (one octave up)
In D this transles to:
D F G Ab A C D
In tab for the middle octave this becomes:
4 5 6+ 6′ 6 7+ 8
Quite an easy scale actually, only one bend and it is hole 6 which is not too difficult unless you use a high pitced harmonica. Also you don’t have to bend for the b3, it is there for free which is a big reason third position is very suitable for minor blues.
The lower octave require quite a bit more bending skills:
1 2” 2/3+ 3”’ 3” 4+ 4
The minor pentatonic scale
The minor pentatonic scale is almost the same as the blues scale but the lowered fifth is not part of it. The tab then becomes:
4 5 6+ 6 7+ 8
The major pentatonic scale
The major pentatonic scale will be imcomplete in the middle octave as it contains the third instead of the minor third. In scale degrees it is:
Root 2 3 5 6 root (one octave above)
In D this is:
D E F# A B D
The F# is not available in the middle octave (unless you do overblows) and becomes this in tab:
4 5+ (missing) 6 7 8
It can be played completely in the lower octave but it require more bending skills.
1 2+ 2′ 3” 3 4
Applying third psoition scales
Playing in a new position require quite a lot of practice but if you translate some of the riffs you already know to the third position scales you will have a good start.
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