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Aquamarine

Harmonica tips

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I have knowledge on the subject...just not much time at the moment. But yeah, you need a 10 hole blues harmonica or harp as they are commonly called. The key of the harp should be on it somewhere, generally on one of the ends.

I know Plant plays a C harp on Poor Tom. I am not sure about the other songs. I play the C harp as well as the G harp. Go and buy yourself a key of C blues harp (I recommend a Hohner Special 20).

I will post some techniques, good links etc later...when it is not 3:31am!! :o:lol:

:wave:

That's the only one I know too..

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OK, thanks--I'll get down to the music store down the street at the weekend, and see if they have one. In the meantime I'll keep trying. I think it might be getting a bit easier, but getting just the one hole isolated seems to be the tough part.

You're a great teacher! :thumbsup:

:thanku:

Aww Thank you. Just keep the practice up. Take the harmonica away from your mouth...look at the hole (try the 4th or 5th hole) then play that hole. Really pucker those lips but make sure they have a good contact with the harp and the hole. Pucker your lips so that when you blow through them you can feel the pressure in you head and chest because you are pushing air out of a tiny hole. Now transfer that to the harp. It will take patience but you will get it.

By the way, what is your first name...it would be easier calling you by your first name rather than calling you Aqua all the time. :lol:

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By the way, what is your first name...it would be easier calling you by your first name rather than calling you Aqua all the time. :lol:

I'm Helen, Richard. *curtsies* Better not let your fan club know you keep telling me to pucker my lips! :lol:

I'm still practicing that, btw, and I see what you mean about the pressure thing. But I'm still working on the individual notes, haven't worked my way up to anything resembling a tune yet. However, I'm blaming my instrument ;) , and am still planning to get a better one in a day or two.

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I'm Helen, Richard. *curtsies* Better not let your fan club know you keep telling me to pucker my lips! :lol:

:hysterical: :hysterical: Oh, that cracked me up. haha! No, we best not tell them that. We will keep it under wraps Helen....our little secret. :D

I used to play with a C harp that I bought some time ago. It was ok to play, but I found myself in a similar predicament to you...I kept blaming the instrument, and rightly so...cheap instruments don't sound that great, especially when it comes to something like a harmonica that has delicate reeds. Once you get a new harp, you will feel better about the instrument and better about yourself. It will give you added enthusiasm too. :thumbsup:

Let me know when you get sorted.

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Let me know when you get sorted.

Monday! That's when I'll get to the music store. I really do think the shrieks and howls that are coming out of this instrument aren't ALL my fault, as even when I think I get the puckering thing right, it still doesn't sound that good. :unsure: Sort of tinny. So I'll make a note of what you recommended and hope the store carries them, since I think they cater mainly to high school bands. :rolleyes:

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Monday! That's when I'll get to the music store. I really do think the shrieks and howls that are coming out of this instrument aren't ALL my fault, as even when I think I get the puckering thing right, it still doesn't sound that good. :unsure: Sort of tinny. So I'll make a note of what you recommended and hope the store carries them, since I think they cater mainly to high school bands. :rolleyes:

Yeah, I would expect a tinny sound from a cheap harmonica. Hopefully they will have one. If not just ask what the guy there reccommends. But even then the chances are he won't have a clue what he is talking about. :lol::thumbsup:

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Allrighty! So, I am now the proud owner of a Hohner blues harp (bloody hell! the price of these things is about 6 times more than the last one I got, which shows you how old it it, I suppose). It's heavier than the other one and feels different, so I'm playing around with it, and this time I did remember to take off my lipstick first. :rolleyes: Still having a lot of trouble getting it to play one note, and it seems to play a different note when I inhale. :huh: Is it supposed to do that?

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Hi, it sounds like Red Eyed Richard plays a lot more than I do.... But, for some free lessons and some great demonstrations/advice etc. I would visit Adam Gussow's website, he has about 80 free lessons on youtube etc. You can see and hear all the things you are talking about. (And just like me not long ago- struggling with.) It is a terrific site www.modernbluesharmonica.com The guy even answered my novice silly emails, pretty cool!

From one beginner to another...good luck to you! :)

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Hi, it sounds like Red Eyed Richard plays a lot more than I do.... But, for some free lessons and some great demonstrations/advice etc. I would visit Adam Gussow's website, he has about 80 free lessons on youtube etc. You can see and hear all the things you are talking about. (And just like me not long ago- struggling with.) It is a terrific site www.modernbluesharmonica.com The guy even answered my novice silly emails, pretty cool!

From one beginner to another...good luck to you! :)

Thanks a lot, willibee, I will take your advice! Seems like there are a couple of good sites out there--so between them and Richard, I'll get the hang of it eventually. :D

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Congradulations Helen on your new purchase...glad you got a good harp. I bet you can feel the difference. I hope it is in the key of C. :)

Here is a good site for you to check out too:

Music Moose

The harmonica lessons on there are pretty good. Just keep working at that single hole blowing. And yeah...lipstick is not a good idea, not that I have ever had a problem with that. :lol:

Try and find some kind of online resource for looking after your blues harp, you have to make sure you keep it clean and well looked after if you expect to get a long life out of it.

And to answer your earlier question...yes, you get two different notes when inhaling and exhaling. You will learn these as you go along. :thumbsup:

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Congradulations Helen on your new purchase...glad you got a good harp. I bet you can feel the difference. I hope it is in the key of C. :)

Yes indeed, says so right on the box! :thumbsup: I asked for a C harmonica specifically. Apparently if you buy a Lee Oskar you can buy replacement reeds (or whatever they are) for when the old ones wear out, but I thought that might be looking a bit far ahead . .

Thanks a lot for the link, and I promise to keep the thing clean and lipstick-free. Still working on the notes, but glad to hear it's actually supposed to sound different when I inhale--however, it does complicate matters a bit, at the moment. :blink:

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I will get to posting some hints and tips for you and also some tunes that can get you started. I will try and get those on for you as soon as possible, but please apprieciate that it takes time to compose these kinds of things, but I will enjoy giving you some guidance, and then maybe one day when you are playing the blues amazingly I will be able to smile. :D

haha!

So I shall post some stuff as soon as I get chance Helen. In the meantime, keep working on the puckered lips (lipstick free). :lol: Also, get a feel for the harp...

...exhale on the first hole, inhale on the first hole, exhale on the second hole, then inhale on the second hole....and continue to work up on all ten holes. Remember, inhaling and exhaling, not blowing and sucking. Also, play around with those chords...play holes one, two and three (only those three)...then play 4, 5 and 6. Exhale on them then inhale on them. Get used to those few chords because you will be able to do a crued rock and roll 12 bar blues thing in no time.

I'll be back. :thumbsup:

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I will get to posting some hints and tips for you and also some tunes that can get you started. I will try and get those on for you as soon as possible, but please apprieciate that it takes time to compose these kinds of things, but I will enjoy giving you some guidance, and then maybe one day when you are playing the blues amazingly I will be able to smile. :D

haha!

So I shall post some stuff as soon as I get chance Helen. In the meantime, keep working on the puckered lips (lipstick free). :lol: Also, get a feel for the harp...

...exhale on the first hole, inhale on the first hole, exhale on the second hole, then inhale on the second hole....and continue to work up on all ten holes. Remember, inhaling and exhaling, not blowing and sucking. Also, play around with those chords...play holes one, two and three (only those three)...then play 4, 5 and 6. Exhale on them then inhale on them. Get used to those few chords because you will be able to do a crued rock and roll 12 bar blues thing in no time.

I'll be back. :thumbsup:

Thanks a lot, Richard, and there's no rush at all, just at your convenience--I really appreciate you helping me out with this! :) Plus it will take me some time to get the hang of those notes, but I'm playing them like you described, and will report on my progress. I'm still doing the one-hole-at-a-time thing at the moment, but getting a bit better. :thumbsup:

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I have a Hohner harp and a 20 hole special from some Jap company. The 20 hole is a little outta tune on the low end, so a little hard to play down there, and i love deep tones (give's it more soul to bend some notes down low). by the way, in my book, a 20 hole special = 2 rows of 20 holes. dunno if that's accepted jargon or not, but now you know what i'm talking about when i say "20 hole special". As far as "playing" goes, yeah i can.

But i'm a musician, and to me playing means understanding your instrument to the point where it's easier to play your instrument than to "*nudge nudge wink wink* play your instrument". And as far as harping goes, I do not by ANY means consider myself a player in this sense. I know where notes are, and if you give me some time to practice, i'll get it as long as it's not too hard. But ask me to improv, and I might chuck the thing at you. Harp is something hard to learn... just like any other instrument it takes YEARS to learn how to improv. Once you can play exactly what you hear in your head... once it becomes a way to physically amplify your creative mind... that's when you can play. And that is going to take a long long time, much practice, a whole lot of listening to different musicians, and a little more than some internet sites.

The websites and diagrams and books and whatever are definitely a good place to start though. But once you get familiar with how it works... get your nose out of some book, find some music to listen to, sit down, and just play until your lips bleed (seriously.)

Edited by tang991

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I have a Hohner harp and a 20 hole special from some Jap company. The 20 hole is a little outta tune on the low end, so a little hard to play down there, and i love deep tones (give's it more soul to bend some notes down low). by the way, in my book, a 20 hole special = 2 rows of 20 holes. dunno if that's accepted jargon or not, but now you know what i'm talking about when i say "20 hole special". As far as "playing" goes, yeah i can.

But i'm a musician, and to me playing means understanding your instrument to the point where it's easier to play your instrument than to "*nudge nudge wink wink* play your instrument". And as far as harping goes, I do not by ANY means consider myself a player in this sense. I know where notes are, and if you give me some time to practice, i'll get it as long as it's not too hard. But ask me to improv, and I might chuck the thing at you. Harp is something hard to learn... just like any other instrument it takes YEARS to learn how to improv. Once you can play exactly what you hear in your head... once it becomes a way to physically amplify your creative mind... that's when you can play. And that is going to take a long long time, much practice, a whole lot of listening to different musicians, and a little more than some internet sites.

The websites and diagrams and books and whatever are definitely a good place to start though. But once you get familiar with how it works... get your nose out of some book, find some music to listen to, sit down, and just play until your lips bleed (seriously.)

Very very well said...the true skill of a musician is measured by how well he/she knows the instrument. I have sat and watched a pianist play a piece of beautiful music...and totally respected them for it. Then I asked the person to play something else....so they shut the book, picked up another book and opened it to page 20 and played another piece. And they did this time and time again. When you can sit down and just play...that is when you begin to get real fulfillment.

You will get to that point at some stage Helen, but practice is essential. :thumbsup:

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:beer: Having impeccable book technique is amazing. But it's quite another thing to have incredible creativity and ability.

Thank you much Richard.

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:beer: Having impeccable book technique is amazing. But it's quite another thing to have incredible creativity and ability.

Thank you much Richard.

Yeah, I said to the girl "can you play something like this?" And I sat down at the piano and jammed out an improv honky tonk tune. She was blown away. She then said "I can play this." and prompltly turned to page 27 of her book. Shame really.

Have a beer back. :beer:

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Very very well said...the true skill of a musician is measured by how well he/she knows the instrument. I have sat and watched a pianist play a piece of beautiful music...and totally respected them for it. Then I asked the person to play something else....so they shut the book, picked up another book and opened it to page 20 and played another piece. And they did this time and time again. When you can sit down and just play...that is when you begin to get real fulfillment.

You will get to that point at some stage Helen, but practice is essential. :thumbsup:

Well said Richard. Not to get terribly off topic but I've always found the most interesting musicians play more from the heart, if that makes sense. Technique is important but really "feeling" it to me adds so much more to what you're listening to.

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I have knowledge on the subject...just not much time at the moment. But yeah, you need a 10 hole blues harmonica or harp as they are commonly called. The key of the harp should be on it somewhere, generally on one of the ends.

I know Plant plays a C harp on Poor Tom. I am not sure about the other songs. I play the C harp as well as the G harp. Go and buy yourself a key of C blues harp (I recommend a Hohner Special 20).

I will post some techniques, good links etc later...when it is not 3:31am!! :o:lol:

:wave:

Would it look something like this ?

SPECIAL20.JPG

The radio played "You Shook Me" the other night. That's some amazing harmonica work by Mr. Plant !

And....some fabulous crooning as well !! :D

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I know exactly what you all are saying about what really makes somebody a musician. The only concern in my case is whether I actually live long enough to get that good at it. :lol: In the meantime, on with the lipstick-free practice.

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Dang, this makes me want to give it a whirl again. RER is a great teacher! :)

I gave my last good harp to a dear friend who passed away.

I think my next music store buy will be that, a ukulele and some bongos.

I could never play a real tune with the harps I've had, but they are just so fun to play WITH. :thumbsup:

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Dang, this makes me want to give it a whirl again. RER is a great teacher! :)

I gave my last good harp to a dear friend who passed away.

I think my next music store buy will be that, a ukulele and some bongos.

I could never play a real tune with the harps I've had, but they are just so fun to play WITH. :thumbsup:

I Have a uke too, make sure you get a good one though, it'll probably run you at least 60 dollars, the cheap ones might be inexpensive, but i swear to you that they are not AT ALL worth it, even for a beginner. Sorry if you've been playing for years or something and i'm insulting your intelligence. I've wasted 30 dollars on a cheap uke (not that much money to lose, i know. but hell, 30 bucks coulda bought me a lot of other things)

And yeah harmonicas are just fun to honk on once in a while. Just get it out and try to make some soul spill on out.

C'mon now Richard, it's gonna take more than one beer for either of us to get plastered.

have a few more! :beer::beer::beer::beer::drunk:

Edited by tang991

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Dang, this makes me want to give it a whirl again. RER is a great teacher! :)

:thanku: We could probably start a harmonica club or something. Give it a cool title like "Harmonica Corner with ReR". :lol: Yeah, you should pick a harp up again and have a bash.

C'mon now Richard, it's gonna take more than one beer for either of us to get plastered.

have a few more! :beer::beer::beer::beer::drunk:

Why thank you. :D

I best post some advice really. I shall set to it shortly. :thumbsup:

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Right, cracking on. I hope you can make sense of the following Helen:

I never actually told you to play some of the high notes as well Helen. Remember I was saying about exhaling gently down on holes 1,2 and 3, and then inhaling gently on those holes...well they are the low notes. Then I said about inhaling and exhaling on the holes 4,5 and 6. They are the middle holes and they will produce a slightly higher set of sounds. Now cover the holes numbered 8, 9 and 10 and do the same again, inhale and exhale to produce the high sounds. OK...good. Remember I told you about using your fingers to block other holes, well you could block off the holes 3 and 7 with your first fingers and play inbetween them to play 4, 5 and 6. NOTE: You do not use your fingers in normal harmonica playing...but as a beginner you can block those holes and play the notes so you know exactly what it should sound like. Then you can take your fingers away and play the three notes...if it sounds the same then you are playing the correct notes which also means that you are making sure no air is going through the holes you don't want to be using. So if I ever again refer to using your fingers, then this is what I mean.

Right, please remember that we are starting at the very beginning of harp playing here. Some of the things you will be practicing will bore the hell out of you, but you will be getting used to the harp by playing these techniques. But we will start playing some recognisable tunes in the future.

Exercise

Once you have done the above (which shouldn't really take too long) then you can mess around with your harmonica a bit. You could maybe manage to get your own tune out of using just these 6 different chords (IN 123, EX 123, IN 456, EX 456, IN 8910, EX 8910)* just by playing them randomly. Now, keep your lips gently in place against the harmonica and move the harmonica from side to side against your mouth while inhaling and exhaling at random. A good tip is to lightly wet your lips with your tongue first to avoid friction...just don't go over the top otherwise you might drown yourself and ruin your harmonica. :lol: Just make sure they are wet enough for it to slide really comfortably. Now try to keep your lips in the same formation that you used to cover three holes at a time, even as your hamonica is sliding through them. This exercise, although kinda boring and noisy, helps to train your mouth. Generally the natural tendency for your mouth is to move slightly to one side as you slide something through it...well you in this instance are making sure your mouth doesn't do that. You will be able to get this to the point where you could play EX 123, then IN 8910 without the harp leaving your lips. You would play EX 123 then, with your lips nice and wet, be able to slide all the way up and inhale on 8910. And you will know where the notes are as you get used to the feel of the harp.

*IN = Inhale EX = Exhale...then the numbers obviously refer to the holes but I haven't bothered using spaces or commas, so 8, 9, 10 looks like 8910...don't try and play 8, 9 and the 1st hole and then get stressed out looking for hole 0. :lol:)

Remember...no blowing or sucking!!!! Use about as much air as you would use when talking at normal voice level. You may also notice that less air flow is required to produce the same volume of sound on the higher holes than is needed for the low or middle ones...so change your style accordingly.

Conserving Air

You will find that you will use less air when playing if you consciously direct all of your breath through your mouth, rather than through your mouth and nose simultaneously. Practice breathing through your mouth only if you need to while keeping the passage between your nose and mouth shut tightly. Nose closure is especially important when doing inhaling exercises.

I presume you are already familiar with the term "rhythm" and the term "beat". If you want me to define these terms then feel free to ask as they will be used in the future.

Playing to the basic beat

Ok Helen, I suggest you start by tapping your foot to a basic 4/4 beat. This is where you count "one, two, three, four" over and over again, making sure the spaces between each number is exactly the same. Perhaps count out loud as you tap your foot, say each number as your foot hits the floor. You will obviously run out of air eventually if you do this, so I suggest you catch a quick breath after each "four". Like this:

"One" "Two" "Three" "Four" (breathe) "One" "Two" "Three" "Four"

After doing this, catch your breath on the fourth beat rather than imbetween the four and one like above. So do this:

"One" "Two" "Three" (breathe) "One" "Two" "Three" (breathe)

It is customary for musicians to do what's called a 'count' or 'count off' before a song is started. The drummer will either click his sticks together four times to set the beat or count going, as well as set the speed or what's called 'tempo' or the piece. So before you start exercises, get your foot tapping and count one two thee four before starting playing. You could do this with your lips already lightly pressed against the harp.

Now, place your lips over the middle holes (456) of the harmonica and continue to tap your foot steadily. Send a short exhaled breath of air through the harp, once for every "one", "two", "three" and "four". You could even whisper the words one, two, three and four through the holes in this instance. This exercise is for you to get used to playing to a beat. Again, you will find that you will run out of air...so do what you did in the previous exercise. In the place of playing on the "four", use that time to swing the harmonica a fraction of an inch away from your lower lip, while keeping it in position against your upper lip, and breathe in. Return the harmonica to its original position in time for the next "one" beat. In this instance, make sure you don't inhale back through the harmonica on the "four".

For your information, each individual "four tap's worth" of these rhythm patterns you've been learning can be called one "bar" or "measure". So each set of 1, 2, 3, 4 is a bar.

As a variation to the above exercise, Helen, you could try steadily exhaling in one long breath for the beats 1, 2, 3 and then inhale on the fourth beat. So you get a long note three beats long and then a break for one beat as you catch your breath. You could even now try exhaling on the 1, 2 and 3 beats and then inhaling on the notes on the fourth beat. So, playing through 456, you get:

Exhale Exhale Exhale Inhale Exhale Exhale Exhale Inhale

Make sure you play around with these exercises on holes 123, 456 (as we have just been doing) and also on 8910. Well done Helen.

Staccato Effects: Puffing and Tonguing

Ok, finally for this post I will look briefly at this section. This is a great weapon in the arsenal of a harmonica player. The musical term "staccato" (from the Italian word for "detached" I believe) refers to notes that are clear and seperate from each other. They are independant, rather than flowing one into the other, they are often choppy and defined.

There are two ways of breaking up the airstream coming from your lungs into the harmonica so that it can be used to form a series of clear, distinct sounds. You can send seperate short, exhaled puffs of air through the harmonica...a bit like if you were going to blow out a match or candle (remember to be gently with your breathing on this one though). This technique would obviously be called "puffing". Or you can use your tongue to break up the airstream, as you did when saying "one", "two" and "three" through the harp.

In my opinion, and I think it is the general opinion, tonguing is a more effective and versatile way to create seperate sounds, SO MAKE SURE YOU PRACTICE IT!!! There are a few phrases you can play through your harp to get used to tonguing:

Place the harmonica in your mouth (in this case cover the 456 holes again, but be sure to try the others later on) and try saying "ta-ta-ta" through the harmonica. Experiment with different sounds, like these ones: Try "cha-cha-cha", "da-da-da", "ba-ba-ba", "la-la-la" or "ka-ka-ka". You will find that slightly different movements of the tongue are required to produce each syllable. I think "da", "ka" and "ta" are the easiest to use. These are great to play around with and I will be back with some good staccato exercises later on.

WOW! That was one hell of a long post. :lol: I hope it helps anyway. I have explained the best I can really...just hope you can make sense of it. Any problems, tips and advice you need on what I wrote feel free to post questions.

Happy playing Helen. Catch you later on. :D

B) Richard.

Edited by redeyedrichard

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