Chromatic makes me tongue block! Plus a question for BBQ Bob

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

Chromatic makes me tongue block! Plus a question for BBQ Bob

Postby JakeyVimto » Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:29 pm

Hey-o people,

Grabbed a cheap Swan chrom and finding the differences quite severe! Just my technique etc is not right for chromatic, so I'm having to adjust.

Weirdest thing is, on diatonic harps, I find tongue blocking annoying and awkward to the point that I barely ever use it. But with chrom, it seems to be the only way I can play a series of clean notes in succession! Does this happen to anyone else?

Also this experience is hammering home the recurring mantra of BBQ bob - most harp players use to much force! I've realsed I do...

So just wanted to say, Bob, your absolutely right! Would you recommend any exercises or alterations to my technique to regulate my breath control, or is it just a matter or keeping it in minding and working on it?

Cheers,

j
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Re: Chromatic makes me tongue block! Plus a question for BBQ Bob

Postby barbequebob » Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:35 pm

JakeyVimto wrote:Hey-o people,

Grabbed a cheap Swan chrom and finding the differences quite severe! Just my technique etc is not right for chromatic, so I'm having to adjust.

Weirdest thing is, on diatonic harps, I find tongue blocking annoying and awkward to the point that I barely ever use it. But with chrom, it seems to be the only way I can play a series of clean notes in succession! Does this happen to anyone else?

Also this experience is hammering home the recurring mantra of BBQ bob - most harp players use to much force! I've realsed I do...

So just wanted to say, Bob, your absolutely right! Would you recommend any exercises or alterations to my technique to regulate my breath control, or is it just a matter or keeping it in minding and working on it?

Cheers,

j


On chromatic harps, breath control is even more important because if you play it too hard, the note will totally blank out because the harder you physically play, the more the pitch drops even to the point of bending them unecessarily. My best advice is this: play just loud enough so that you don't wake the baby up who's sleeping in the next room and gradually work it down so that you can control everything with any breath level. The one other thing I strongly recommend to all harp players is to take breathing exercises from a reputable vocal coach and then eventually learn to do thm in reverse for the draw notes. I did that and not once have I ever regretted it!!!

If you're having a tough time with the tongue block, 99% of the time the beginner's problem is that they tend to place their tongue on the harp as hard as their breath force and what you need to do is woodshed more and place the tongue VERY LIGHTLY on the harp and you'll eventually get more control of things. With chromatics, you may also need to adjust your embouchure more and open more widely. With too much breath force, 99 times out 100 along comes a wet mouth problem to boot. Your embouchure may also be far too tight and so that forces you to play uptight and that throws everything totally out of whack. There's no overnight solutions but hard work but this will get remedied in time. You'll need to get the tongue together to do octaves properly so this is very important to learn!! Much like vocals, harp playing needs a relaxed body to do things correctly and playing very uptight just opens up more bad habits and playing techniques. This is the exact same thing that also applies to a vocalist

With country music, I find it easier to play much of that TB'd, and then adopt the classical playing method to get more up to the playing speed more often associated with country, tho puckering still does work for that.

BTW, you can get clean single notes on both chromatics as well as diatonics with puckering as well. The classical chromatic player stresses the TB more because if you learn to move the harp more in an arc rather than moving your head, your playing will agility for more complex phrases where speed may be necessary will increase big time.
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Re: Chromatic makes me tongue block! Plus a question for BBQ Bob

Postby JakeyVimto » Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:52 pm

Hey cheers bob, thanks for the advice.

I'll be working on that for sure.

j
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