Playing minor-key harps

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

Playing minor-key harps

Postby tobiepsg » Mon Dec 08, 2008 7:45 am

I've been carrying Am and Fm for a while, as we end up playing songs in these keys every now and again. I was quite shocked trying them out for the first time, as apparently you can not play them 'normally'. I hardly ever use them and rather switch to their respective relative-major-key harps. Who else are using these? What the heck's up with them? :?
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Re: Playing minor-key harps

Postby Bournio » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:14 pm

I've not got one but I think they're designed for playing cross harp... So your Am harp is actually Am in cross harp
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Re: Playing minor-key harps

Postby allanlummox » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:22 pm

I use them racked all the time -mainly a Marine Band or a Lee Oscar for Bbm.

Yes, those come labeled for their cross key - the harps are marked as Ebm, although the lee has both designations.

I use them for minor key songs like Louis Jordan's "Is you is or is you ain't my baby" or Tom Waits "Down in the Hole".

Hohner has started making Minor Special 20's, and my long range plan is to change all my keys for those and set them up with Turbo Lids, which increase the overall volume of the harp.
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Re: Playing minor-key harps

Postby barbequebob » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:22 pm

All LO minor key harps are labeled in cross harp. If you're gonna start using different tunings other than the standard tunings, I stronly urge that one does something that too many harp players are often too lazy to do, and that's learn where the notes are, and what bends/overblows are available because there is going to be a learning curve, and harp players 75% of the time fall into classic, but horrible stereotype, especially in terms of music thoery knowledge, as being dumbest musician on the bandstand. Why learn this? Just doing the stereotypical thing of put it your mouth and blow and then hope for the best, when you use different tunings ain't gonna fly and you're just gonna look like a total idiot in the process doing that.
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Re: Playing minor-key harps

Postby DeFord Harp Slider » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:24 am

I love the Lee Oscar minor tuned harps. The first time I played my first one in the music store the owner picked up a guitar and started playing "Summer Time" and I was immediately playing note for note and fills with him. There was nothing to learn, it was as natural as playing any major harp in 2nd position. I had worn out a few chromatics not being able to get the hang of playing one at all. After playing the minor key harps it all came together for me.
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Re: Playing minor-key harps

Postby DeFord Harp Slider » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:40 am

I forgot to mention that there are 2 types of minor tunings offered by Lee Oskar. The natural minor is the type that is made for playing blues, western type folk and country music and is very easy to play. The harmonica Minor tuning is for middle eastern, eastern European and possibly music played on other planets. Those things are insane to play and if you can play one you could clean up performing at Bar Mitzvas. posting.php?mode=reply&f=13&t=8945#
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Re: Playing minor-key harps

Postby barbequebob » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:39 pm

No matter what, if you're gonna make really good use out of them, do what most harp players are often TOO LAZY to learn, and that's music theory.
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Re: Playing minor-key harps

Postby DeFord Harp Slider » Wed Dec 17, 2008 3:26 am

I agree with you BBQ Bob about the benefits of having some basic knowledge of music theory and what you say applies to a lot more guitar players than harp players here in east Texas. When Willy Nelson was picking cotton on the outskirts of Abbot Texas alongside black people that were singing as they worked. He said that he knew then that he would never know as much about music as those people and they weren't knowledgeable of music theory. I'm an old man who is fortunate to be able to play all kinds of music with guys that are a lot older than I am and all of us are still learning. Blues is a form of folk music and as such is more about expression than formality. It either works or sucks, and for us old guys it usually works, even though a few of us are limited in formal training. Lee Oskar Natural minor harps are labeled for 2nd (cross harp) position and Harmonica minor harps are labeled for 1st (straight harp). I must own up and admit that if I had spent more time learning theory, my early years of trying to play with music with friends that were as lacking in knowledge as I was, would have been a lot less frustrating. Happy Holidays to you and yours. DeFord
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Re: Playing minor-key harps

Postby tobiepsg » Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:49 am

DeFord Harp Slider wrote:Lee Oskar Natural minor harps are labeled for 2nd (cross harp) position and Harmonica minor harps are labeled for 1st (straight harp).

I'm sure mine has the minor stamps on the right hand side, so they're for 1st position play. One the other hand, then they would have played straight forward like all other 1st position harps :? . I'll have to double-check them when I'm home again.
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