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Question about Harp tablature

PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:06 pm
by zstevensclay
I'm learning a lick that goes.

4d, 4dbend, 4d, 5dbend, 5d, 5b, 4d, 4dbend, 4d.

My question is, should I play each note seperately (with a seperate puff of air), or is it better to go from a bent note to a regular note without any pause between notes?

And also assume if your playing two of the exact same notes in a row your always using a separate puff of air for each correct? For example two consecutive 5 draws, 2 4 blows etc.

Thanks guys

Re: Question about Harp tablature

PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:37 pm
by jeffl
It's hard to answer your question without knowing the phrase context you're referring to. In general though, what you're asking about seems to be what type of note attack to use. There are different types of attacks for notes on many different instruments. I use mostly the tongue blocking method of creating notes on harp.
How you attack a note is determined by the phrase and how you interpret that phrase. For "hard" attacks, I'll use either a "ka" attack(using the back of the mouth), or a "ta" (tongue) attack (or a combination in sequence) , depending on which sound I want. Although, sometimes, just starting a column of air, with the aid of your diaphragm (gut muscles) will provide a soft attack When moving to the next note you can choose hard attacks, or what is called a "slur", where you just slide to the next note. If you're sliding between draws, this can take some practice.... hitting a second draw after a first one requires good muscle memory in order to hit the 2nd pitch accurately...especially if it's a reed that can be bent more than a half-step.
Otherwise, no, you can use the same continuous supply of air to play as many notes as you can, as long as it makes musical sense... you can slide from note to note if it sounds good.

I should qualify my remarks by saying that I never learn licks by tab; even though I can read music notation and tab, I've always learned licks by ear, and I rely on about 45 years of experience playin' harp to guide me in how I approach phrases. I recommend stepping back from the tune to ask yourself if your approach to it is complimentary or clumsy.

Re: Question about Harp tablature

PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:05 pm
by zstevensclay
Thanks Jeff.


When I practice I'm mainly using a pucker. The tab indicated for example two separate quarter notes the played consecutively, the first being a 4 draw bend and the second being a 4 draw. Since my mouth is already on the 4 hole and I'm playing a bend, would I stop that note completely and after the briefest pause play the 4 draw. Or would I instead play the 4 bend, and simple stop the bend and keep drawing to get the 4 draw, essentially playing an elongated 4 draw that starts off bent? Based on the the tablature is written is there a positive answer for this question?

Re: Question about Harp tablature

PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:10 pm
by jeffl
You can't tell from the tab, as far as I know. I primarily tongue block, and I might do a soft "ta" attack on the second note, or I might use a softer "ka" attack, using the back/rear roof of my mouth to start the second note. That's exactly what you find out from the phrase's context in the piece: you play what sounds good; try it numerous ways.
But, without some kind of attack, you may find it difficult to hit the draw bend accurately following the draw note. I'm not saying don't use the slur approach; I'm saying that the slur approach will probably take more practice in order to hit the draw bend accurately.