Getting a different feel

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

Getting a different feel

Postby JakeyVimto » Fri Sep 28, 2007 11:36 am

Hey all, I been adding a couple of non blues songs to my repetoire, and i tried to play my harp in a rack to accompany a couple of them, most notably 'Alone again or' by Love. I'm just starting to think I could try to make harp breaks that sound more like a horn, as my usual licks aren't fitting well.

I've read DC saying he mimics horn lines sometimes, I thought maybe this could be a plan.

I just wanted to ask if anyone has some tips on how to go about this, if its better to stay cross harp or to go back to straight. Or if you think I might be barking up the wrong tree and should just go through more blues licks until I find ones that will go?
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Postby bosco » Fri Sep 28, 2007 1:01 pm

Jakey-

I can't speak for DC, but I when I refer to mimicing horn lines in the traditional sense, I'm not talking about harp solos. The horn lines are used as an acompianest in the ensemble, to back singing and other solos, most notably at the change or the turnaround. Of course it would be impossible to back your own singing with racked harp horn lines.

The harp has a full voice of it's own for soloing and even horns don't play the same way when they're cut lose for a solo. Still, it wouldn't hurt to listen to some horns for ideas and borrow some licks. The most copied horn player's trick is repeat a phrase when improvising a solo. That way, the first phrase sounds intentional no matter what notes you played. :wink:

I would stick to 2nd position for the blues feel you get from bending notes. There's not much blues happening in 1 st position, a better alternative is to explore 3 rd position and mix that in for variety with your 2 nd position playing.

keep on harpin'...

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Postby dcblues » Fri Sep 28, 2007 1:11 pm

I play horn lines as part of a horn section - alto sax, trumpet and harp. I mainly play second position when I do this. There is one song I play first position to do this and I really should look into using third on some songs.

Not all of the notes are there, so on some of them I only play part of the line. I use the chromatic on one, and I plan to start doing this more. I really need to learn how to overblow, and I'm planning to learn one of these days. I'm also still trying to figure out what the heck Pierre Beauregard was doing with Powerhouse to make a sax and harp sound like a horn section. And I really should get some early War cds to get some ideas from Lee Oskar.
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Postby jeffl » Fri Sep 28, 2007 1:22 pm

If you want one source to listen to in order to hear one way of playin' horn backing parts on a tune, listen to Lee Oskar's work with the band "War" from the 70's. Another one would be to listen to all of Muddy Waters's harpers over about a 25 yr. period: because he was the front man, his harpers (a veritable chain of "Hall of Famers") were able to comp during the vocal verses. Listening to harpers who are primarily sidemen, not frontmen, will immerse you in the art of "comping", or playing behind the music as an accent, much like the horn sections. Because I'm not a great singer, I've always been a side man, and I love breaks and soloes, but I've always loved comping much more. Comping puts you in the rhythm section with the bassist and drummer and allows you to help drive the band. It's not easy either, because much of it is rhythmic fills, including single note pops, or slurs, and involves the discipline to play behind the beat and not rush the band outa the groove.
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Postby JakeyVimto » Fri Sep 28, 2007 2:06 pm

Obliged to your kindness sirs.

I think its dawning on me that if im playing guitar and harp on my own, the harps gonna sound like a harp. Hey, I'm not the brightest, but I get there.

I think I'll go back to trying to play the best harp break I can in these songs and just keep trying until it sounds good. I like the idea of finding a phrase and repeating it Bosco, maybe if I bite the vocal melody and repeat that it will give the performance a little more structure than me just riffing around.

Thanks for all the recommendations for backup play. I'd actually like to do more backup harp, but i know too many indie schmindie oasis style guitar players and not enough who knock down a solid groove, so I end up playing guitar too. Looks like I could do a little studying here.

Any more ideas, please keep em rolling...

j
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Postby jeffl » Fri Sep 28, 2007 2:16 pm

Jakey: you might wanna check out Walter Tore's soundclick page,too. You can find the link in the "Gary Primich RIP" thread in this harp forum. Walter plays a ton of racked harp behind his guitar and vocals. While his style is his own, it will give you an idea of the level of expressiveness and force that can be achieved with a racked harp. I highly recommend givin' him a listen. I more or less gave up playin' racked harp with keyboards 'cuz I got frustrated with not bein' able to do the things I wanted to do while playin' that way. First position is much easier to play racked,imo, than 2nd or 3rd.
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