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"Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 3:10 pm
by dcblues
You guys ever get this when you tell someone you're a harp player? I don't know how many times I've had people ask me if I play anything else, like they're surpised that someone would only play harp.

Another one is they assume you play the music of the only popular harp players they can think of. One of my coworkers introduced me to a woman we sometimes work with and told her I was a great harmonica player. She said, "Oh, I bet you play a lot of Neil Young!" I told her I've never played any Neil Young that I can think of and that I'm mainly a blues player.

And, slightly related, guitarists/band leaders at jams always assume you only play second position. I don't know how many times someone has told me something like "This song is in G, so get your C harp." No, I don't want to know what second position harp to use, I want to know what key you're in so I can decide how I want to play.

Just a couple of pet peeves to get off my chest this morning. :)

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 3:54 pm
by bosco
You guys ever get this ?

d. all of the above


It seems to be univeral, the comments and assumptions you hear being a harper. Neil Young and cringe, Bob Dylan. Gasp.

"Just tell me what key the song is in" is my standard response as well. Half the time they're wrong anyway. The intro might start with G, but the song ends up being in another key. Or they'll tell you A, and it will actually be in A minor. Does that make a difference? :roll:

Although technically they're pet peeves of mine as well, I've grown to accept them as they are so common and universal that I've come to the conclusion that folks just don't know any better or that they are being offensive.


PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 4:56 pm
by boogiechillun85
I'm kind of a hack harp player.. but I'll bring it out once in a blue moon and do a solo harp thing. I've gotten "hey, are you gonna do some Bruce Springsteen?!" a few times...

What are you gonna do? Every time I bring out the banjo all people ask for is "The Ballad of Jed Clampet" or "Dueling Banjos." Such is my lot in life...

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:00 pm
by dcblues
Neil Young and cringe, Bob Dylan

Actually, I like Dylan's harp playing. It's not blues, but it's melodic and it really accompanies his style well. I got started on harp by listening to Dylan, but obviously moved on to blues.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:08 pm
by jeffl
And then there's the other side: When our jam bunch played a club a few weeks back, I sat down on the bar's piano ( a great axe,btw!) and jumped into "Before You 'Cuse Me" and we pounded out a romping rendition of it, considering it was the first tune of the night. The rhythm player looks at everybody and goes, "Holy Crap! That guy plays the piano..!", like a harper has all he can do to figure out what to do with 10 holes. And, you're right Bosco, about guys tellin' you what key harp to grab. All I wanna know aheada time if I'm jumpin' in is "what's the key?", "Is there a modulation to another key (rare)?", and "Are you guys tuned down a half step", 'cuz I've been tripped up by that one on occasion.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:46 pm
by barbequebob
Unfortunately, since what most people see are really bad players by a 90 to 1 margin, plus the fact that there are so many harp players that know so little or no basic music theory, and what makes it so much worse, many of these same players unknowingly have been perpetuating this stereotype of the harp player being the dumbest, most useless musician on the bandstand, and until harp players clean up their act ASAP, this is something they'll have to live with for many decades to come, and I place the majority of the blame on harp players themselves and so I get tired of hearing harp player's Rdoney Dangerfield Syndrome ("I get no respect"). I know harp players despise hearing this but unfortunately, it's the cold, hard, brutal truth!!!!!! Again, until we as harp players don't do anything to change this perception, sadly, it'll never go away!!!!!

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:19 pm
by jeffl
You're right Bob, unfortunately. I think part of the problem is that it's fairly easy to learn one or two simple riffs on harp, and then play them on all the stock 12 bar tunes--over & over. Most other instruments take a little more effort to get to the point where you can play anything at all. I'm real thankful that I actually learned music theory on trumpet, and learned all the concert keys and scales, and played organ in a dance band before I even picked up the harmonica at about 16 yrs. of age. I was also fortunate to have a dad who was a great musician and played "mouth organ" as one of his instruments. Even at that, my learning curve has still been fairly steep during the last 10 yrs. as I've done alot more amplified playing, vs. the primarily acoustic blues I played for the first 10 yrs. of my trip. Also, one benefit of playing in a gigging band, or jamming with veterans who have gigged, is that you learn alotta things from other musicians; not that much about your instrument, but alot about terminology, general band dynamics, listening and communications skills, equipment,etc.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:58 pm
by allanlummox
I have seen harp players get loudly, publicly annoyed at the assumption that they knew little to no theory and turn around and start hooting along in the wrong key, too.

I mean not YOU guys. But those other harp players.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:13 pm
by jeffl
If I'm gonna play in the wrong key, I'll grab somebody's accordian,lol!

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:24 pm
by dcblues
When I play in the wrong key, I just blame it on the guitarist. :)

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:52 pm
by allanlummox
Yea, but do ya keep playing anyway?

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:53 pm
by allanlummox
I mean, one or two tugs, ok, after that, yer jerkin'.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:18 pm
by ricochet
Hey, man, how about some Blues Traveler? :lol:

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:55 pm
by jeffl
Really though...I mean, really; does anybody keep playin' in the wrong key? I can't believe that happens, does it...? I've jumped in on tunes playin' cross harp and realized the licks I want are in straight harp, or 3rd position, but then you jus' reach for another one. Or, sometimes I need two harps for the licks I want, but you usually know that aheada time. I've seen Rod Piazza switch harps a dozen times in the same tune, but I don't think he drinks when he plays,lol! If I did that at my weekly jam, I'd soon have my harps so jumbled up in the case that I'd have to get my reading glasses back out. In the earliest days of my old jam bunch, about 15 years ago, we had a coupla guitar players that would get too juiced up and smoked out, and sometimes they'd cacophonize everything, but there were so many guys playin' that it all sounded like mud anyway. Our tolerance for sloppy crap has diminished considerably since then, even though the level of inebriation probably hasn't.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:59 pm
by allanlummox
Early days of a better world, then.