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Left or right playing harmonica?

McGrath of Harlow 26 Sep 10 - 03:02 PM
Tootler 26 Sep 10 - 03:07 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Sep 10 - 03:55 PM
Tootler 26 Sep 10 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,henryp 26 Sep 10 - 04:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Sep 10 - 06:13 PM
Steve Shaw 26 Sep 10 - 07:08 PM
The Fooles Troupe 26 Sep 10 - 09:51 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Sep 10 - 08:22 AM
Mr Happy 27 Sep 10 - 08:46 AM
Arnie 27 Sep 10 - 10:34 AM
Tootler 27 Sep 10 - 04:35 PM
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Subject: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 03:02 PM

It occurred to me today to wonder, does everyone play the harmonica left to right? I mean with lower notes on the left, like with a piano.


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Subject: RE: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: Tootler
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 03:07 PM

I would say the norm is to play low notes to the left and the numbering of the holes on harmonicas tends to support this, but there are people who play the other way round. Sonny Terry is an example of a well known harmonica player who played with the low notes on the right.


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Subject: RE: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 03:55 PM

Interesting - and on this page I found a clip of Sonny playing with Pete Seeger as well as Brownie McGhee. Amazing - sounds like he's duetting with himself some of the time.


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Subject: RE: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: Tootler
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 04:00 PM

Have you forgotten to add a link?

I agree, though, Sonny Terry is a pretty amazing player.


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Subject: RE: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 04:20 PM

Woody Guthrie played back to front, and so does Andy Irvine.

Andy is currently on tour in England and Scotland; see
http://www.andyirvine.com/calendar.html


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Subject: RE: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 06:13 PM

Have you forgotten to add a link?

I did indeed - but here it is 10 Blues Harp Masters

I wonder if it's just a matter of how they happened to pick it up on the first place, or if there is anything else involved.


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Subject: RE: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 07:08 PM

I play the usual way round but I can't think of why playing the other way wouldn't be just as good. 'Tis true that Woody played upside down, and his growly tone has oft been attributed to that, but I can think of no good reason why it should make any difference at all. I've played the harmonica for many a long year, and I've never understood what those bloody numbers on the top cover are supposed to be for. You can't see the numbers when the thing's in your gob, can you? Pointless. And please don't tell me that it's so that you can use tab. Harmonica tab. Heheh. The quickest way imaginable to slow down your learning!


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Subject: RE: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 09:51 PM

Actually I have seen some button box players - who learned all on their own (by ear?) with no external help - play the instrument 'upside down' - or with the left and right hands playing the other side. Quite good too.

For small Piano Accordions (up to about 40 odd bass - it's a physical thing) - especially if you had previously learned piano (keyboard skills) I found that they were easy enough to play 'upside down' too - you could play a full size that way - but because there are more things to remember their physical locations, all that practice needed is a bit off putting, especially if you want to get above a certain standard. Also if the box has cute things like 'chin masters', they will be out of reach....

The tone is unaffected.


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Subject: RE: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 08:22 AM

I can imagine that left or right handedness might make some difference. Or if you came from a society where you read right to left instead of left to right.


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Subject: RE: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 08:46 AM

I play gob-irons low left, high right but know others who play 'upside down'.

However, I play whistles 'upside down', that is, right hand uppermost


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Subject: RE: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: Arnie
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 10:34 AM

I'm left-handed and play 'harps' the wrong way round, with the low notes to the right. I started playing my dad's harmonica as a kid, and never realised that I was playing the wrong way round until someone pointed it out only a couple of years ago. Doesn't seem to make any difference as far as I can tell.


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Subject: RE: Left or right playing harmonica?
From: Tootler
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 04:35 PM

There's no reason why it should make any difference. It's what you are comfortable with and what you are used to.

As it happens I play low notes left and I imagine it's because that's how I started out. It's so long ago, I've forgotten. It's just how I have always played.


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