prepare to laugh - two questions

The lowdown on the Mississippi Sax. Just for Google, this section is about harmonicas.

prepare to laugh - two questions

Postby TC90 » Fri Jan 26, 2007 12:53 am

First, I started a thread a while back about racked blues harp, and I want to thank all who replied. I've been practicing on a C harp I found in a box in the basement (we're in the extended process of moving). I picked a blues tune in G and have been playing along with that. Now for my question. Is there one key harp that is easier to learn on, kind of like the Key of E for blues guitar? There are a couple songs I would like to play along with that are in the key of C, but am not sure if an F harp would be a wise purchase for a beginner, or if the key doesn't matter at all. I have an A harp around somewhere, but can't locate it :cry: I'm a disorganized mess. And do harps start in A as lowest and proceed up to G as highest?

Second (third) question, what do you blues harpers think about Dylan and Young as harmonica players? From reading other threads, it seems I may have started out playing too hard, using force instead of finess. Made me wonder if Dylan and Young blowin' like crazy into their harps has set a bad example for the world, and if maybe somethin' should be done about it. :D

Keep Bluesin'! 8)
User avatar
TC90
Regular
 
Posts: 149
Joined: Sat Dec 09, 2006 1:17 am
Location: Lincoln, NE

Postby t bone bruce » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:00 am

TC, The normal range of harps start with G as the lowest, and F# as the highest, although you can get a high G, and low keyed harps. Most blues players use 2nd positon playing most of the time. If the songs in C you could use your C harp in 1st position up on the high end a la Jimmy Reed, or use an F and play cross-harp.
Some beginners find the lower keys a little harder to play, getting accurately drawn notes, especially drawing hole 2. But playing lower keys gives you good breath control. Barbeque Bob will tell you that lots of players use too much breath force, and he's right. Work on tone and volume will come with it. I can play louder tongueblocking than I can puckering, using the same breath force, and if you don't tongue block I'd recommend it. It feels weird at first, but suddently you get used to it. Then you wonder how you played without it.

With regard to Dylan and Young, personally I don't care for their harp playing much. Occasionally I get asked to play in that style at jams, and I'll do it, no problem. I just think they're much better songwriters than harp players. People expect harp to sound like that, because they've had the exposure to Dylan & Young, and not the Walters and Sonny Boys....
User avatar
t bone bruce
Regular
 
Posts: 133
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am
Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Postby TC90 » Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:21 pm

Thanks for the information t bone. What do you mean by first position and second position. Is second position cross harp?
User avatar
TC90
Regular
 
Posts: 149
Joined: Sat Dec 09, 2006 1:17 am
Location: Lincoln, NE

Postby jeffl » Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:29 pm

TC,Dylan and Young play in straight harp or first position most of the time, so they're often not bending the crap outa their reeds. Secondly, they are basically guitar players who are not concerned with the nuances of harp playing; it's a style of harp that was adopted by alotta old folk players and what we would call Americana today. Steve Earle and Tom Petty fit in this mode as well. Quite often they're just blowin' and suckin' on the harp to add some break to the monotony of hearin' one instrument all the time. I like all of those guys jus' fine (and have plenty of their music),but they are not blues harpers in the broad sense of the term.
jeffl
Contributor
Contributor
 
Posts: 4051
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:04 pm

Postby t bone bruce » Sat Jan 27, 2007 12:25 pm

TC, I should have made that clearer. 1st position or "straight harp" is playing the harmonica in it's intended key, as Jeffl said. 2nd position is "cross harp" -playing the harmonica in the fifth above the intended key, for example A harp in E. if you have access to a "circle of fifths" you can see the relationship between keys.
User avatar
t bone bruce
Regular
 
Posts: 133
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am
Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Postby bosco » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:09 pm

TC-

Please go to the Mainpage of BigRoad Blues (before you get to the forum) and click on the HARP link or use this one-

http://www.bigroadblues.com/harp/index.html

It used to be protocol around here that all beginning harpers read the Harp primer to avoid asking "dumb" questions. Of course your questions are not dumb, but ones we've already answered hundreds of times.

It will take you about 20 minutes to read the 5 Harp lessons, answer about 90% of your questions and save us a lot of typing.

Enjoy...sorry I didn't mention it sooner!

Bosco
User avatar
bosco
Contributor
Contributor
 
Posts: 1505
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 12:36 am
Location: Michigan

Postby jeffl » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:27 pm

Hey Bosco,it even amazes me that as long as I've been playin' (since 1967) there's still real basic stuff I never learned 'cuz of my limited exposure to other harpers mainly. I wish that I'd have gotten around more advanced harpers at a much younger age so that I woulda learned how much there was to learn. There's such a lack of harpers in Minnesota that I jus' wasn't exposed to alotta the more technical elements of playin',which resulted in me havin' a limited bag of techniques. I get by alright,but I think I coulda been alot better if I'd have worked harder at it years ago.
jeffl
Contributor
Contributor
 
Posts: 4051
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:04 pm

Postby TC90 » Fri Feb 02, 2007 6:01 am

Thanks all for the replies. Guess I thought people would respond if they wanted to, and I enjoy the conversation. Anyway, guess I'll do more reading and less typing.

See ya,

TC
User avatar
TC90
Regular
 
Posts: 149
Joined: Sat Dec 09, 2006 1:17 am
Location: Lincoln, NE

Postby bosco » Fri Feb 02, 2007 2:21 pm

Guess I thought people would respond if they wanted to, and I enjoy the conversation. Anyway, guess I'll do more reading and less typing.

Sorry TC, I didn't mean for my post to sound like a reprimand.

The BigRoad Harp lessons were written by Dr. Mojo, the original owner and creator of this forum and I find them well written and VERY informative. Once you have the essential info and a basic understanding, you're prepared to discuss blues harp at the next level. I enjoy your participation in the harp forum and all of the conversations pertaining to blues harp!

Bosco
User avatar
bosco
Contributor
Contributor
 
Posts: 1505
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 12:36 am
Location: Michigan

Postby jeffl » Fri Feb 02, 2007 2:55 pm

In theory,no,there is NOT a key that is easier to learn on. In practice,however, the lower to mid- pitched keys are more common to learn on, and are easier to practice the basic draw bends on. For 1st position or straight harp playin' (so if yer workin' on Dylan,etc.) , G,A, or C will do. In fact, A and C are economic keys to start out with, 'cuz both of 'em are commonly used for straight and cross harp. Jerry Portnoy uses an A harp (teaching crossharp lst) in his instructional course, but I've seen alotta basic tutorials using a C harp as well.
jeffl
Contributor
Contributor
 
Posts: 4051
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:04 pm


Return to Blues Harp

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest