Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

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

Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby drewfasa » Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:00 pm

Hi everyone,

I recently started learning to play the harp and am working my way through Winslow Yerxa's Harmonica for Dummies book, which as far as my limited knowledge goes seems quite good indeed.

Anyhow, I'm just starting to be able to bend while tongue blocking but only on the bottom 5 holes, sometimes 6, but the blow-bends seem impossible while tongue blocking, I feel like I just can't get a small enough chamber while tongue-bloocking to bend the higher holes. Does anyone else have this problem? Is it possible to bend the highest holes while tongue blocking on a C - harp?

Forgive me if this topic has been covered, I used the search function but didn't find anything.

Many thanks to any of you wise old sages who can help me!

-Drew
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby dcblues » Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:46 pm

Some players tongue block every hole and every bend. I never figured out how to tb the blow bends, so I pucker when I play them. I know of very few players who are 100% tongue blockers. I probably tongue block on maybe 70% of what I play.
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby MakaInOz » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:53 am

"any of you wise old sages " - one out three ain't too bad I guess (being neither wise or a sage)

Drew, its not obvious whether you can't get the blow bends at all, or whether you can LP them but not TB them.

I'm a LP'er who started only TB'ing for octaves, but I find I'm using TB for a lot more these days. As DC implied - while there are zealots for both who'll swear you should only TB or only LP, most harp players I know use both (in varying percentages). So if you find something that works, that'll do! I know of some harp players who's solution is to never venture beyond 6.

If you can't get the blow bends to work at all, have another look at Winslow (there's a lot in that book that isn't apparent in the first reading), and have a hunt around Youtube. I don't immmediately recall any blow bend lessons on there, but there are so many lessons by so many good players I'm sure you'll find one. Perseverence!

Good luck
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby harmonicatunes » Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:12 am

The harmonica world is divided into 3 parts

1)Those that tongue block only
2)Those that lip block (or pucker) only
3)Those that do both

I'm part of the 3rd camp.The blow bends are challenging, and are best done using lip blocking to start with, in my opinion.
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby drewfasa » Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:21 am

Thank you very much everyone for your replies so far. I can do the blow bends by puckering (sorry should have made that clear), although I find 9 and 10 quite tricky still. It feels like the blow bends require such a small mouth cavern than any attempt to TB it just turns into a LP anyways.

Can you folks do all the blow bends while TBing? If TBing the high bends is just folly, than I'll stop wasting my time, otherwise I'll keep at it as I prefer TBing.

Thanks again for all your help!
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby jbone1 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:33 pm

i puckered exclusively for a couple of decades and then tried tb. these days i use it for a lot but never for blow bends. i have a serious mishmash of styles going between the two forms. i pay little attention to how i do something when i'm playing. maybe i should address it in minute detail but i just never have. i know that when i find a new trick i incorporate it in and it pops up when i'm improvising on some song or other at some point.

there is a fourth category re: playing style. u-block! something i have never done btw.
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby ricochet » Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:58 pm

Not everyone can do that. The ability to roll the tongue up into the U shape is a genetic trait.
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby Bournio » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:09 pm

I just tried U blocking haha.... that's interesting. I pucker, never managed the tongue blocking(didn't someone post a thing on here ages ago about the perils of tongue blocking? It was a really funny thing!)
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby drewfasa » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:40 pm

Ricochet,

you look like someone who could answer another question that's been on my mind. I'm thinking about growing a moustache, in the hopes that it will help me play guitar a-la Warren Haynes and Dickey Betts, but I'm worried it might get in the way of my harp playing. Are there any mechanical disadvantages to having a nice moustache and beard when playing harmonica?
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby ricochet » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:42 pm

Not at all. The harp's a nice way to pluck out any too-long moustache hairs around the mouth. :mrgreen:
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby jeffl » Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:12 pm

I'm a nearly 100% tongue blocker who uses lip pursing on upper register bends. I've used tongue blocking up there but I couldn't get the tone right...I'd get kind of a fuzzy sound and couldn't get those clean James Cotton upper register blow bends without pursing. I wouldn't be surprised if BBQBob knows where the fuzzy tones come from... I felt like I was cheating the technique...catching just a part of the hole in order to get the bend.
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby MakaInOz » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:15 am

Drew,
I've had a moustache pretty much since I could grow one. I joined the air force at 17 and wanted to be one of those 'Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines', so I even had the curled up ends.

Every now and then I lose a moustache hair to a harp, but its pretty rare. You know when it happens though!

My first harp instructor had facial hair like Rico, so its not too much of an issue.

I get more damage from the harps I leave in the car for red light practice. They're only cheapos, but the last two have cracked the comb in the middle of the harp (it gets pretty warm here in summer) and when that crack catches your lip it hurts as much as losing a moustache hair does.
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Re: Question about tongue block bending - New Comer

Postby colmanL » Thu Aug 27, 2009 1:13 pm

here`s another way to play from the 6th hole up.put your tongue on the hole to cover half of the opening
this cuts down the air force and gives a great tone.the trick is to blow light,with this you can have great dynamics.
i got in to this because of blowing with to much force.it is great for fast slippery licks.
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