3rd, 4th, 5th Position

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

3rd, 4th, 5th Position

Postby JakeyVimto » Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:11 pm

Evening all,

I scoured the internet for information regarding learning to play from a new position. 2nd is getting comfortable, 1st is ok when needed, so which one next?

According to some sources, 3rd position is the most commonly used and most useful, other sources claim 4th position is the one to try, while 5th is 'maybe the most versatile of the minor positions'.

Anyone care to lend some personal testimony to guide me in this decision?

In confusion as always,

cheers,

j
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Postby eline » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:05 pm

Yes, 3rd position is probably the next mostly used position as it lends itself nicely for minor keys. Something to keep in mind though, 5th position is related to the 2nd position in that it’s the relative minor key. A lot of guitar players will play in the relative minor position when the song they're playing is in a major key. You just need to make sure that your starting/stopping on the keynote (for us harp players it’s 2 draw or 3 blow); we all know this. In other words, you’ve already been playing in 5th position in a lot of ways. Now all you need to learn is starting, stopping, holding, emphasizing, strong/key notes of that particular scale. This will take a little theory. You should try and understand tonal centrality and the relationships of the other notes to the keynote. Learn what the flat 3rd, 4th, and the 5th at minimum. The Harp Handbook talks a little about how the 5th position is related to 2nd. A few of the things it says are that many of the same techniques and phrases that are used in cross harp can be used here as well. Also, if you leave out the 5 draw and the 7 blow you get the minor pentatonic scale. Many of the lower octave bends are useful notes as well. This can be a great key for blues and rock.
In Reality, much of what was said here is true for the other positions, but some of the strong notes are going to be harder to obtain, as they require good intonation with your bends. Anyways, hope this helps.

NOTE BAD FOR A DUMB HARP PLAYER (See “Do You Only Play Harmonica” and other stupid…)
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Postby JakeyVimto » Sun Dec 02, 2007 11:55 pm

Cheers eline, i understand most of what your saying there, and a little bookwork will fill in the gaps.

Not bad at all man, I'm hoping some more theory will make me as 'dumb' as you!

Cheers for the heads up,

j
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