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Santa brought me my first harmonica....Now What?

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by pellertpale, Jan 4, 2005.

  1. pellertpale

    pellertpale ReMember

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    I have a blues book by Mel Bay, and a Marine Band harmonica in C. Any tips? The book said the ten holes are just C,E,G over and over if you blow, but if you draw they change. I have musical theory experience from guitar playing so I get the C,E,G part, but I still have no idea how to play it.
     
  2. Bullwinkle J Moose

    Bullwinkle J Moose Quick! Duck!

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    Suck in and blow out air with your lips over the holes and move the harp from side to side. Learn where the notes are and play songs. That's about it.
     

  3. California Jack

    California Jack Millennium Member

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    First realize that most blues is played "cross harp". That means you would use your harp to play blues in the key of g. Learn to bend notes. On the low end you will be sucking in mostly,on the top blowing out mostly.

    Next, buy and listen to a bunch of Sonny Boy Williamson II and Little Walter cds.
     
  4. pellertpale

    pellertpale ReMember

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    Should I use my tongue to block the holes or my lips or both.
     
  5. Bullwinkle J Moose

    Bullwinkle J Moose Quick! Duck!

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    You can use your tongue if it works for you, but you might ought to try just using the lips until you get the layout of the notes down. In other words keep it simple until you get to a plateau (or a rut), then you might try exploring new territory. It's not too hard hitting a single note or a chord using the lips alone. An old hippie harp player I knew in the 60's always emphasized breathing from the diaphragm [sp?] while playing.
     
  6. California Jack

    California Jack Millennium Member

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    If you want to play blues than use your lips. Don't know if it is possible to bend notes when using tongue. Besides, certain licks (good pu huh?) require the use of the tongue. Listen to Howllin Wolfs Memphis recordings to hear what I'm talking about.

    Blocking holes wioth the tongue is onlly good if you want to play songs like Camptown Ladies or Silent Night.
     
  7. Biker13

    Biker13

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    Soaking your harp in water for a while before you play makes the notes much easier to bend. Also, check out some John Mayall. "Room To Move" in particular. And most of all, have fun!
    Biker13;c
     
  8. California Jack

    California Jack Millennium Member

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    I've always believed the water soaking deal to be a wives tale. It somehow doesn't make sense to me. After all, the reeds are made of metal.

    Jack
     
  9. nickg

    nickg

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    here's a good harmonica story.

    a friend of mine was in the boy scouts and they were doing a camp out. one of the instructors had a harmonica. my friend asked if he could borrow it to play for a while and the instructor gave it to him.

    during the day they were out on a hike and my friend had to take a dump real bad so he ducked behind some bushes and did his business. on the way back from the hike he reached in his back pocket for the harmonica and noticed it was gone. so he back tracked looking for it and DAMN if it wasn't just sitting there sticking up in the, uhh, turd pile.

    so he picked it up, dipped it in the creek to wash it off, and went back to camp. there he gave it back to the instructor.

    later that night they were sitting in their tents and all of a sudden my friend heard the lovely strains of the harmonica. he just started cracking up and NEVER told anyone what he was laughing about.

    the first time he told me that story we were laughing so damn hard i almost wrecked the damn car while driving.

    a couple of years later a friend of ours who was a dj at one of the radio stations here in town made a compilation tape for us. after hearing this story from my friend he prefaced the beginning of the tape with "alright boys and girls...it's time for 'turds and harmonicas' part one."

    years later we STILL crack up about that story. it's been told to many people and they ALL laugh hysterically at it.

    so just be careful where you put that thing!!! ;f ;f ;f
     
  10. Biker13

    Biker13

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    Not a wives tale according to my harps. Course, I haven't bought a new one in quite a while. I always bought the Blues Harp by Hohner. Have they changed?
    Biker13;c
     
  11. nanookalexkaye

    nanookalexkaye Supports Troops

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    Rubbish...Balderdash!
    Don't soak your harp. ever. period.;5
    I have played harp for over 15 years. I play classical, blues, country, polka, folk, middle eastern, rock-n-roll and bluegrass.

    Do this if you want the fastest track to learning harp...

    1) Buy a "Learn to Play Harmonica Instantly" book/tape/VHS combo pack ASAP

    2) Learn to play simple songs by heart (i.e. Marry had a little lamb, Michael Row your boat ashore, Vivaldi Four Seasons...etc)

    3) Once you know one or several songs by heart, implement differnt playing techniques such as tremelo, vibrato, chording and bending to the songs you have memorized

    4) Explore. Find the notes for other familiar songs and play them until you know them well

    5) Practice. Practice. Practice. I have practiced many hours
    every day for many years and it has paid off greatly

    6) You say that you play guitar??? Gt a harmonica rack to hold the harp while you play. Although it will be awkward at first, it will strengthen your mind by using your right and left sides of the brain stimeltaneously. I play my Cajun accordian with my harmonica on a rack.

    7) Rent the movie "CROSSROADS" with Ralph Machio

    8) Buy blues CD's focusing on harmonica masters

    9) Do not buy expensive harps for years...here are the best in my opinion

    Hohner Special 20, Suzuki Folkmaster, Suzuki Pro-Master, Hohner Marine Band, Hohner Chromanica
     
  12. Biker13

    Biker13

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    I ditto the Crossroads movie and have to say that this is the first time I've ever been.....BALDERDASHED!
    Heh heh.
    Biker13;c
     
  13. nanookalexkaye

    nanookalexkaye Supports Troops

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    Well spoken...
    ;Y
     
  14. frettedfive

    frettedfive KE5BSR

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    I'll say that Biker13's harmonica soaking idea holds water (pun VERY MUCH intended ;)).

    You want a harp that is as air-tight as possible in order to bend. With harps that have plastic combs, such as the Hohner Pro Harps and Lee Oskars that I play, this isn't a problem. However, wooden-combed harps will often have air leaks between the reedplate and comb that can reduce your ability to get good bends.

    Since the comb on the Hohner Blues Harp is made of wood, soaking it in water will cause the wood fibers to swell and provide a tighter seal between the reedplate and the comb. With a tighter seal it will be easier to get the notes to bend.

    I wouldn't suggest doing it too often, though, as repeated swelling and drying of the comb could cause cracks.

    Just my $0.02

    I tried to learn harmonica years ago when I was much younger but with no success. I picked one up several months ago and have found it much easier to learn this time around. The key, for me at least, was learning how to play a single note consistently (I use my lips to block, not my tongue). Once you've done that, playing along with songs on the radio or on CD's will do wonders for getting your chops and your ear up to speed.

    I also found using a rack and playing along with my guitar to be a lot easier than I expected it to be. It's also extremely rewarding, and will get you numerous pats on the back from friends when you provide entertainment at get-togethers (after they've told you how stupid you look with "that thing" around your neck, of course :cool: )

    Best of luck to you in your musical pursuits! ;c
     
  15. nanookalexkaye

    nanookalexkaye Supports Troops

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    .02 doesn't buy you much. Some pepole give advice on things that they do not know much about.
    Years ago, harmonicas were all hand-made and the air channels inside the combs were not as exacting as modern harmonicas. The practice of soaking harmonicas is a very dated practice. Modern harmonicas are designed to more exacting tolerances and do not require soaking. Some of the best sounding harmonicas now use plastic and aluminum combs that are not affected by moisture. If you look into to it, you will find that soaking harmonicas only shortens the life and affects the playability of the instrunment.
     
  16. pellertpale

    pellertpale ReMember

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    I appreciate all the help and support one other thing I was wondering about was the pattern for the draw notes. There doesn't seem to one.
     
  17. git_r_dun0405

    git_r_dun0405 5FDP

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  18. nanookalexkaye

    nanookalexkaye Supports Troops

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    The pattern is arranged that way because a 10 hole diatonic harmonica consists of three different registers (octaves).
    Also, some of the progression contains gaps, or missing notes.
    On a 10 hole Diatonic harmonica, the lower register does have missing notes. These missing notes require the player to bend the reed with the draw of their breath. This bend creates the missing note while giving the traditional whining blues sound.
    You will notice similarly missing notes on the upper register, where the bent notes are created when you blow instead of drawing air. Once you have found all of the hidden notes, you can really start practicing lics and songs.
     
  19. nanookalexkaye

    nanookalexkaye Supports Troops

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  20. Biker13

    Biker13

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    Whatever, Friend. Fact is, if I soak my Blues Harps in water for a little while, I can bend those notes like a Mofo.
    Biker13;c