Just bought a harmonica!

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Just bought a harmonica!

Postby Dualflip » Wed Jun 29, 2011 2:18 am

Well i bought a harmonica the other day, its a diatonic harmonica, also known as blues harmonica. I would like to play blue-ish style, nothing too fancy, i know its a hard instrument, but i have a good musical background, i play piano, used to play classical (nothing to be considered near professional) and still play some from time to time, I know music theory, etc.. so i guess its not like someone starting from scratch. On a side note, the other day i was recording a great Violinist, during a break, he started playin the studio's Steinway grand, he played like i never did during all my years of piano study, when i asked him since when he started playing piano, he said "not much, maybe 2-3 years ago", i was like :shock: :o but thats not all, he plays cello, viola and violin like a mad man, I guess its something you are just born with...
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Re: Just bought a harmonica!

Postby BBTempo » Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:00 am

Jose, remember to play the Blues, you have to "Cross Harp", and suck in, not blow out as much. Also it's a 4th or 5th away from the key the song is in, depending on if you look at the "Blues Harp" key compared to the song key, or the song key compared to the "Harp" key. Good luck and have fun!! :mrgreen:
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Re: Just bought a harmonica!

Postby Dualflip » Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:52 pm

Hey Bob, seems like you know a lot more than I do, what do you mean with Cross Harp?, Ive been watching some youtube tutorials and they are pretty good, the wonders of modern technology!
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Re: Just bought a harmonica!

Postby BBTempo » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:55 am

Jose:

"Cross Harp" means you are playing a harmonica a 4th above the key of the song, rather than playing one in the same key. Bob Dylan-type harmonica is usually played in the same key, without "sucking" in so hard as to "bend" the reed like one would "bend" a guitar string. Playing "Blues Harp" or "Cross Harp" not only do you play a fourth above the key of the song, (or a fifth below the key of your harmonica), but you "Suck in" to "Bend" the notes, for a pentatonic type scale rather than the diatonic scale used on the Dylan-type harmonica played in the same key.

For a longer, more detailed explanation, try this link: http://www.grothmusic.com/online/crossharp.htm

Have fun!!
:mrgreen:
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Re: Just bought a harmonica!

Postby Dualflip » Thu Jun 30, 2011 11:31 pm

Ohhh boy, well thanks for the info Bob, i will look into it, in the meantime ill just practice basic stuff.

Thanks!!!
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Re: Just bought a harmonica!

Postby BBTempo » Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:25 am

My pleasure, Jose!!
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Re: Just bought a harmonica!

Postby dbbubba » Sat Jul 02, 2011 9:46 am

I was taught to play blues harp by a friend back in the mid '70s and I can still do a little bit of stuff.
Everything Bob said is 100% correct.
I forgot that it was called "cross harp."

I would recommend starting with notes down at the lower half of the harmonica as opposed to the higher notes.
It is easier to get the classic "blues sounding" melodies from the middle of the harp on down to the low end notes..
I can only play down there now because I have forgotten all of the "tricks" that get you from about the middle of the notes on up to the top notes.
Still, if you listen to most good blues harp players you will notice that they really don't play many "licks" as the go up into the higher register.
They just go up there and land on that top note which is usually the root.

Of course, you CAN play neat stuff up in the top half, but it WAY trickier.
It has always seemed to me that what works on the bottom half does not work on the top half.
Then again it could be my lack of ability to play and/or laziness. :D

To prove that a great player can wail in the top register of a blues harp listen to what Charley McCoy does in the 2nd (fast) part of "Orange Blossom Special."
Also note that playing over that chord progression requires switching between TWO harps!
Changing harps like that is HARD, but he has played that song in probably every show he has done for thirty plus years.
Still, it SMOKES!

Blues harp players:
Find some James Cotton stuff for great blues.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZXMWklGf84
Mickey Raphael played great C&W stuff behind early Willie Nelson. It is all mostly support licks.
There is also Charley McCoy for classic C&W.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUW4LYEJ ... re=related
John Popper of Blues Travelr wears me out REALLY, REALLY quickly with that one thing he constantly plays.... IN EVERY solo!
Bob Dylan just plays B.S. licks, but his harp was on a neck holder thing, so he couldn't play anything much if he wanted to.

If you want to get really frustrated listen to some Toots Thielmans.
He used a chromatic harmonica which has the little plunger thing that allows you to play the full chromatic scales.
Awesome version of "Blackbird" by Jaco Pastorius and Toots Thielmans.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd6DTRywF7Q

Just find that classic beginning note by sucking in and then from there it is just a bunch of in and out blowing.
Also, the cool blues tones require a Shure green bullet (or equally shitty mic) through a small amp like an early Fender Bassman.
You gotta' overdrive that sucker until it is about to explode, but not feedback.
Danny Brown
(I was going call myself Mr. B because I like people to say "MISTER" when they say my name, but then I pitied the fools.)
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