Can't get the notes (with bendings)

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

Can't get the notes (with bendings)

Postby Stefanie1 » Fri Jun 08, 2007 5:42 am

Hello people,people say I'm rather good in freestyling already but I'm afraid to learn it the wrong way ..So I found me a real good teacher...One of the things I should learn this weeks is to play the notes starting with the number one and learn how to bend...So now in front of me I have a c harp 1 blow=DO 1draw =RE 2blow =MI and here I'm stucked already I know there should be 2 bendings ...But like I said it seems I don't get further than the MI...Can anybody help me and tell me what exactly to do...Thanks in advance
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Postby songdog » Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:22 pm

I'm assuming you have a diatonic harp in C as opposed to a chromatic.

The diatonic harp is a weird instrument in that you cannot play a major scale from one end to the other.... even with bending. If you want to play DO RE MI on the C harp then you will find those notes between holes 4 and 7 (C to C).

There is a blues scale for the diatonic harp but it won't be DO RE MI.
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Postby dcblues » Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:28 pm

You can play an 8 note diatonic scale on holes 1-4 on the diatonic by bending the 2 and 3 draw.

Work on your bending techniques and get those notes. The 2 draw can be bent down to two semitones and the 3 draw can be bent down to 3. Bending technique can be hard to describe, but for me it's all in the tongue and throat. Your teacher should be able to expain it better and if you do some searches on the web you can find some good free lessons.
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Postby jeffl » Fri Jun 08, 2007 3:57 pm

Stefanie, it's good to have you back. Don't get frustrated with the bends. Learn to control the easiest first semi-tone bends first, while beginning to find the other bends. As you get control of the simpler bends, the tougher ones will begin to come. Practice both sliding to the bend, and attacking it at its lower pitch. You need to be able to be accurate at hitting the lower pitch on the bend, and sustaining it at the right pitch, before you worry about hitting the tougher bends. This is just a matter of repetition and focus, and it will come.
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Postby barbequebob » Fri Jun 08, 2007 5:50 pm

A common fault of many beginners with their bends and the accuracy of the bends often comes from using far too much breath force and to go along with that, learning how to properly manipulate the shape of the inside of your mouth, regardless of whether one puckers, TB's, or any other method one uses for getting single notes. Try using much less breath force and I will almost guarantee that the bends will become easier to play, and the other added benefit will be that the harps become more responsive and you won't blow them out so quiickly.
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Postby Stefanie1 » Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:19 am

Thanks folks for the nice advice!
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Postby jay » Tue Jun 12, 2007 6:51 am

This really helped me when I was first learning to bend.

Start with the 4 draw. Whilst drawing in on the 4 hole SLOWLY tilt the back of the harp up towards your nose. At some point you will hear the note drop down by a semitone. If the sound chokes off altogether, or the harp pops out of your mouth you have gone too far.

I know that its not the correct way to bend, but it really helps you to visualise the change that you need to make to the angle of the airflow that causes the bend. Once you have done this a few times you'll be able to hit the 4 draw bend without tilting the harp, then you can move on to the others.
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Postby bosco » Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:57 pm

Not so sure about that advice Jay, even though I'm glad it worked for you.

I have read more than once that tilting the harp is bad for your harps for just that reason. Unaturally angling a harp increases the reed surface that catches air maximizing your opportunity to bend a reed. I ruined a couple of harps that way when I was starting out.

The proper technique is a straight airflow across the reed and the bend is made by dropping your jaw and increasing the size of your mouth and throat cavity.

Keep at it, Stef!

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Postby jay » Tue Jun 12, 2007 1:14 pm

Indeed, you probably could ruin a harp this way, but you'd only need to do it once, maybe twice before you realise what you need to do INTERNALLY to get the reed to bend without tilting. Its just a tool to illustrate what needs to happen, if I'm making any sense.........
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