Harpo Woogie

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Portrait of Harpo by Salvador Dalí

Harpo Marx recorded this song for his 1958 album “Harpo at Work.” His version is played at break-neck speed (and sped up?) and has a bit of a surreal feel to it with its changing instrumentation, rhythms, and Harpo’s improvisation on the melody. In my musical transcription of the song, I had to slow it waaaay down to decipher the notes in play. I also standardized his variations on the melody, so that repeated portions played the same.

Harpo felt free to take two passages that theoretically should match and play around with them until they were each quite unique. By standardizing the melody for the sheet music, I was following the lead of previous published works where his improvisations were cleaned up a bit when compared to Harpo’s recorded version. I also transposed it from D into C to make it easier for me to figure out the chords used and make it easier for the novice to play.

Learn more about Harpo and his discography at Harpo’s Place, a website run by Harpo’s son Bill Marx.

Download fake-book style sheet music to “Harpo Woogie” here: Harpo Woogie

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