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Blues Mouth organ/harmonicas

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A Question for All You Harmonica Players.... (5) 24 Jul 99 - 03:11 AM
Roger in Baltimore 24 Jul 99 - 06:46 AM 24 Jul 99 - 08:15 AM
Mike Billo 24 Jul 99 - 09:56 AM
MandolinPaul 24 Jul 99 - 06:15 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 24 Jul 99 - 07:43 PM
Pete Curry 24 Jul 99 - 08:48 PM
Lonesome EJ 24 Jul 99 - 11:30 PM
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Subject: Blues Mouth organ/harmonicas
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 03:11 AM

Hi, I am very intersted in learning blues mouth organ. Does anyone know of any good recordings or hints on how to play. I actually play folk tunes but would like to learn some blues. Are there any books or anything on how to learn?


from Brad.

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Subject: RE: Blues Mouth organ/harmonicas
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 06:46 AM


The first step in "gettin' down" with blues harmonica is that you no longer call it a harmonica; it's a "harp", "blues harp" or "French harp".

Elderly Instruments has a section on Blues Harmonica. I am not personally familiar with any of the books, but I would recommend the John Sebastian book (with CD) put out by Homespun Tapes. I do so because I have felt they put out a good product.

Good luck with your new goal. Enjoy the music!

Roger in Baltimore

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Subject: RE: Blues Mouth organ/harmonicas
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 08:15 AM

I'll echo Roger's reccomendation of the Sebastian CD. There is another book/CD called "Begionning Blues Harp" by Don Baker, pulbished by Wise Publ. It is more detailed and more slowly graduated than the Sebastian one. It has one fatal flaw, however. They didn't put "bands" on the CD, so there is no way to find a specific piece. (I made a tape of the CD and use the numbers on my tape recorder.)


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Subject: RE: Blues Mouth organ/harmonicas
From: Mike Billo
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 09:56 AM

I've been playing Harmonica for about 35 years(Jeez! Has it been that long? I should be a lot better)and when I started there was exactly ONE insructional book. "Blues Harp" by Tony Glover, Oak Publications. I believe it's still in print, and is an excellent starting point. The most comprehensive Harmonica instruction I've ever seen (regardless of what style you want to play)is the Diatonic Reference at What a terrific resource.

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Subject: RE: Blues Mouth organ/harmonicas
From: MandolinPaul
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 06:15 PM

Hey Brad,

The way I first got started was sitting down with an A-harp and a Jimmy Reed album. I think it's the only key he owned, and he had a very basic style that's easy to follow.

After you're done with Jimmy, grab B-flat as well, and play along with Sonny Terry.

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Subject: RE: Blues Mouth organ/harmonicas
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 07:43 PM

I worked from a couple of different book/tape combinations, the Klutz set "Blues Harmonica for the Musically Hopeless" by Jon Gindick, and "Country and Blues Harmonica" by David Harp. But I didn't really go anyplace with it until I started playing with records in the 4th key harmonica for the key the number was in: C for G, G for D, D for A, A for E, and so on (the Bb and the F mentioned above are for F and C--although you can get another couple of keys out of each harp, these combinations give you the most musical flexibility. So sit down with your C harp, play along with your friend on a tune in G, emphasize the draw notesx (starting with 1,2,3,4 holes) for the G chord, the blow notes for the C chord, and the 4 and 5 draw notes for the D7 chord. You can also, of course, play along with your favorite CDs if you can work out the keys the songs are played in. This is especially good--just set your player to repeat and you can drive your family crazy by playing the same song over and over for a couple of hours. After you've got the basic harmonic structurew down you can start trying to bend notes (moving your tongue to increase the volume of air in your mouth) and pick up other techniques, such as tongueing, using your hands for a wah-wah sound, etc.

Just listen to yourself a while and it'll all make sense--but if you need additional help, try one of the above courses (both John Sebastian and David Harp have lessons on video as well as tape)(and what is it about harmonica teachers and CDs, anyway--I bought Charley McCoy's Blues and Country Harmonica course and it was the same thing, no track stops.


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Subject: RE: Blues Mouth organ/harmonicas
From: Pete Curry
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 08:48 PM

BSeed's sentence beginning "So sit down with your C harp..." contains everything you need to know to get started playing blues harmonica. Interestingly, many musicans such as Charlie McCoy in Nashville, Greg "Fingers" Taylor with Jimmie Buffett, Mickey Raphael with Willie Nelson, etc. use the "cross-harp" technique (C harmonica to play in the key of G, etc.) regardless of what style music they are playing (blues, country, rock, folk)­probably because, as BSeed points out, in this style drawn notes predominate, and drawn notes can be played with considerably more feeling, shaping, expressiveness and control than blown notes. Good luck! P.S. I would resist the urge to all the harmonica a harp. There is already a musical instrument bearing that name.

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Subject: RE: Blues Mouth organ/harmonicas
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 11:30 PM

I think it was Toots Thielemans, or some other Chromatic player, who said of the diatonic harmonica "it's a no-brainer. You can't really play a wrong note." He was essentially right, though it's a long way from not playing wrong notes, to playing the right ones, to actually mastering the diatonic. I'm somewhere in step 2.


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