Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


How to play the 'Blues Harp'

Related threads:
cleaning mouth organs (25)
Help: Charlie Musselwhite Chromatic Harmonica (10)
Great Harmonica Player Site (11)
A tricky question for paid players (39)
Tech: blues harp on racks (31)
Suzuki Folkmaster Harmonica (24)
How do you clean a blues harp?? (17)
Lyr Req: Veronica Plays Her Harmonica (13)
Harmonica Question (17)
Learning the Harmonica (Blues Style) (8)
Harmonica sites (7)
Anybody know a good harmonica site? (13)
Harmonica mic info. (12)
Any help for a new harmonica player? (98)
bending notes on chromatic harmonica (17)
Harmonica bands (9)
Harmonica advice wanted please! (29)
Help: Harmonica Sanitation (14)
New Harmonica attacks Mustache!!!!! (31)
Chromatic harmonica repair question (10)
24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted (27)
modern Blues Harp: soak or not? (23)
Cleaning a Harmonica (66)
Help: What harmonica do I use? (34)
Help: Good Harmonica for Beginner? (47)
'Solo Tuned' Harmonica Question (23)
Harmonica Players Unite! (56)
Instruments: what type of harmonica for blues (18)
Any handy tips for a beginner - Moothy! (18)
glass harmonica casette (10)
Minor keys and chords on harmonica (23)
Harmonicas for the Homeless (22)
Help: Harmonica Effects Anyone? (10)
Harmonica keys (10)
Harmonica TABLATURE On-Line (9)
Does anyone know any Harmonica Folk Song (11)
fave harmonica bits (47)
tmj and harmonica (4)
Russian Blues Harmonica Site (1)
Tech: Harmonica racks (4)
Review: solar powered harmonicas (20)
A Harmonica History Question (9)
harmonica hygeine (7)
Max (Conk) Geldray Goon harmonica ace (7)
BS: Harmonica (10) (closed)
Seek name of this Harmonica group (10)
Chromatic Harmonica (8)
BS: Stuck harmonica reed? DON'T suck! (11) (closed)
Meisterklasse Harps - Worthwhile? (1)
Help: Civil War Harmonicas (11)
OBIT: Talking harmonica man Lonnie Glosson (5)
More Harmonica Questions (5)
Harmonica advice (9)
Blues Mouth organ/harmonicas (8)
Harmonica repair (3)
Two questions for you harp (harmonica) player (6)
Looking for Harmonica Holder (6)
Australian-style harmonica (3)
Harmonica preferences (16)
A Question for All You Harmonica Players.... (5)


GUEST,Sebastian 15 May 02 - 04:28 PM
Wesley S 15 May 02 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,Mike Billo 15 May 02 - 04:42 PM
GUEST,Ed 15 May 02 - 04:45 PM
Les from Hull 15 May 02 - 05:10 PM
Rollo 15 May 02 - 07:07 PM
michaelr 15 May 02 - 09:25 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 15 May 02 - 10:55 PM
Lonesome EJ 15 May 02 - 11:33 PM
Rollo 16 May 02 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,Foe 16 May 02 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,Foe 16 May 02 - 08:11 AM
Blues=Life 16 May 02 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,Foe 16 May 02 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,Foe 16 May 02 - 09:21 AM
Mark Clark 16 May 02 - 10:59 AM
Lonesome EJ 16 May 02 - 12:38 PM
Les from Hull 16 May 02 - 02:31 PM
Lonesome EJ 16 May 02 - 02:43 PM
Les from Hull 16 May 02 - 06:22 PM
GUEST,Sebastian 16 May 02 - 06:23 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 17 May 02 - 02:22 AM
Whistle Stop 17 May 02 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,Sebastian 18 May 02 - 08:29 PM
Fred Miller 08 Jan 04 - 09:33 PM
GUEST,mike "mouthbender" james 14 Sep 09 - 04:29 AM
PoppaGator 14 Sep 09 - 04:09 PM
Steve Shaw 14 Sep 09 - 04:25 PM
Artful Codger 15 Sep 09 - 08:11 AM
Steve Shaw 15 Sep 09 - 09:13 AM
Artful Codger 15 Sep 09 - 12:32 PM
Tootler 15 Sep 09 - 04:23 PM
Steve Shaw 15 Sep 09 - 07:02 PM
Bobert 15 Sep 09 - 07:19 PM
Artful Codger 17 Sep 09 - 10:29 PM
Lonesome EJ 18 Sep 09 - 12:09 PM
PoppaGator 18 Sep 09 - 02:58 PM
Tootler 18 Sep 09 - 04:43 PM
Artful Codger 19 Sep 09 - 04:13 PM
Steve Shaw 19 Sep 09 - 06:52 PM
Artful Codger 20 Sep 09 - 01:56 PM
The Sandman 21 Sep 09 - 01:08 PM
Steve Shaw 21 Sep 09 - 04:16 PM
Steve Shaw 21 Sep 09 - 04:24 PM
Tootler 21 Sep 09 - 05:53 PM
The Sandman 21 Sep 09 - 05:53 PM
Steve Shaw 21 Sep 09 - 07:55 PM
Lonesome EJ 21 Sep 09 - 09:03 PM
Lonesome EJ 21 Sep 09 - 09:08 PM
The Sandman 22 Sep 09 - 06:50 AM
Tootler 22 Sep 09 - 04:41 PM
Steve Shaw 22 Sep 09 - 07:34 PM
The Sandman 22 Sep 09 - 09:00 PM
Lonesome EJ 22 Sep 09 - 09:40 PM
GUEST 23 Sep 09 - 12:11 AM
Steve Shaw 23 Sep 09 - 04:41 AM
The Sandman 23 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM
Steve Shaw 23 Sep 09 - 08:25 AM
The Sandman 23 Sep 09 - 10:03 AM
GUEST,Rob the roadie 23 Sep 09 - 12:12 PM
Steve Shaw 23 Sep 09 - 02:24 PM
meself 23 Sep 09 - 07:36 PM
Steve Shaw 23 Sep 09 - 08:51 PM
Steve Shaw 23 Sep 09 - 08:52 PM
The Sandman 24 Sep 09 - 08:21 AM
The Sandman 24 Sep 09 - 10:24 AM
The Sandman 25 Sep 09 - 07:06 AM
meself 25 Sep 09 - 11:20 AM
Steve Shaw 25 Sep 09 - 06:17 PM
Lonesome EJ 25 Sep 09 - 09:31 PM
The Sandman 26 Sep 09 - 06:25 AM
The Sandman 26 Sep 09 - 08:08 AM
Tootler 26 Sep 09 - 02:45 PM
Steve Shaw 26 Sep 09 - 04:54 PM
The Sandman 26 Sep 09 - 05:33 PM
The Sandman 28 Sep 09 - 01:17 PM
Ernest 29 Sep 09 - 01:41 PM
The Fooles Troupe 30 Sep 09 - 06:11 AM
Steve Shaw 30 Sep 09 - 11:16 AM
The Sandman 30 Sep 09 - 01:05 PM
GUEST 30 Sep 09 - 01:50 PM
Steve Shaw 30 Sep 09 - 01:57 PM
The Sandman 01 Oct 09 - 08:11 AM
Steve Shaw 01 Oct 09 - 09:07 AM
The Sandman 01 Oct 09 - 10:41 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,Sebastian
Date: 15 May 02 - 04:28 PM

Hello to you blues harp fans!

Today i was in a music shop to buy a harp. The shop assistant told me that a blues harp would fit best for folk and country music. He asked what key I mostly play my songs in. It is D-major. He said what I would need then is a harp in g-major. At home I practiced a little but I wasn't able to play melodies to my songs (in d-major). Did he sell the wrong kind of harp or did i do s.th. wrong?? For my it was logical to buy a d-major harp to play along with my d-major songs but he meant a g-major harp would be the right one. Please help!

If anyone knows a good online tutorial (perhaps in german) where to learn to play the blues harp pleas let me know!

Greetings, Sebastian


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Wesley S
Date: 15 May 02 - 04:40 PM

I'm not a harp player but I've heard that it's true. The term used is "cross-harp" according to a book I saw once. Someone will come along to answer it more fully. Good luck.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,Mike Billo
Date: 15 May 02 - 04:42 PM

To play in D major, you need a D harmonica. To play in the cross harp, "Blues" style in the key of D, you would play a G, just exactly like he gave you.

There are very few melodies that can be played in "Cross Harp" position (of course, Blues purists will argue this point) that are pleasing to the ear.

I've been playing the harmonica for 40 years and have come to the conclusion that I'm not Black, I'm not from the Mssissippi Delta, my woman don't treat me mean and I'm not particularly bummed out about anything, therefore, I don't have the Blues, and dont want 'em.

For good, free harmonica lessons online, do a search for Jack's Harmonica Heaven. There is plenty there to get you started. Good luck.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 15 May 02 - 04:45 PM

This page might help

Ed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Les from Hull
Date: 15 May 02 - 05:10 PM

For folk and country music you need to play a harp in the same key. Blues players use the cross harp method to get the important notes as draw (suck) notes which are usually easier to bend to get that 'bluesy' sound.

This is the difference between playing 'blues harp' which is a term often used for a 10 hole diatonic harmonica, and 'blues harp' meaning playing blues on a harmonica. Your G harmonica will useful for songs in the key of G, so you could start to learn something you do in G first.

Good luck with your harmonica playing - it's lots of fun, especially if you don't have a moustache.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Rollo
Date: 15 May 02 - 07:07 PM

Sebastian, were are you located? I am living in Hamburg. If you happen to live in the area, maybe we might meet and I show you how to "blues-harp".
The others are right: for acompanying a folk song "Wandervogel-style" you need the same tuning as the song. For this kind of folk play you could even think of using a tremolo harmonica.
Using a harp this way gives a very sweet and pleasing sound. But if you want to pepper up the song a little bit, playing a blues harp cross chord is the thing to do with folk and country. It is not so difficult as it seems. And I must admit, what I read in the net is not very easy to understand.
For a beginning you should start playing a song in G on your G-harmonica. Concentrate just on one thing: allways play just one tone at a time. You achieve this by 1. blocking the other holes with your tongue or 2. closing your mouth until only one hole is open to the stream of air. Method 1 is recommended in the books, but method 2 is much easier and does it as well.
When you are a little comfortable with your mouth-harp, and you have a feeling which tones are played by sucking and which are played by blowing into the holes, you should try to play a chord in D. The blown D is located on the 3rd cancella (the correct name for the holes), counted from left (low tones) to right (high tones). You will recognice that there is also a D when you suck the 2nd cancella!
Now start with the blown D on the 3rd cancella, suck the same hole and move upwards hole for hole while first blowing then sucking each hole. End it when you reach the D again, now blown on the 6th cancella.
What you listened to is the blues-scala. You will have recogniced that there are tones from the major key scala missing. Instead there are very sharp tones in between which shouldn`t be there...
If you try to accompany a song with this scala, you will find out that there are gaps. You will not be able to play every tone from the melody. Expecially the E (second in the D major scale) will be missing quite often. Never mind! You can force your mouth harp to fill in this gap! Play the 3rd tone (the fis), you must suck the 3rd cancella for this. While you do this try to FORCE the tone to climb down! Move your harp a little against the lower lip, and try to suck the air a lot sharper than before. You will reach F (from the minor key) very soon, and you even can go down to the E with a little practice.
Everytime you want to play E, use the down-forced Fis. Try it with other melody gaps as well. Soon you will get the feeling for this distinctive "blues harp" sound!
Just a warning: Treating your harp the blues way instead of "wandervogel"-style is like kicking and scratching and shouting animal names while having sex. Treat your harp like a woman: use your hands and your breath to gently warm it up before you get to the hard and heavy parts of the story. If you leave her cold she soon will be nasty to you and loose tuning before time.

I could have written this in german but with respect to the international character of the mudcat forum I stick to english. If you need advice in german mail to thorkel@bigfoot.de and I will try to help you further.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: michaelr
Date: 15 May 02 - 09:25 PM

Nuthin' easier than playin' the blues harp.
You just take a regular harp and cut all the strings that aren't in the pentatonic scale. Then pluck the ones that are left, and you'll be playin' the blues harp!

Or were you talkin' about sumthin' else?

Yowza,
Michael


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 15 May 02 - 10:55 PM

I could play the harmonica, and play it well, since I was a teenager. However, I could not "bend" a note on a blues harp - despite repeated demonstrations and "lessons" from talented musicians.

Last summer, while hiking in the Andes, I had my "epiphany." It was so easy. The explanation can from a young Dutch hiker in our group.The action for bending a note is the same as whistling on the inhale. BINGO!

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 15 May 02 - 11:33 PM

I have begun to accomplish "overtones", or blown notes that bend. This technique is effective on rhythmic, staccato chains of notes when used sparingly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Rollo
Date: 16 May 02 - 06:19 AM

Yeagh, Gargoyle, that´s it! What a simple explanation!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,Foe
Date: 16 May 02 - 07:35 AM

A certain % of people can curl their tongues. If you can do that it makes harp playing easy as you can block all the holes you don't want to sound. Straight harp, playing the same key harp as the song, is also called 1st position. Second position is cross-harp, the harp corresponds to the IV cord. (play E and suck on an A harp). There is also a 3rd position but involves never playing some of the notes. What this means is you can play in three different keys using just one harp.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp' correction
From: GUEST,Foe
Date: 16 May 02 - 08:11 AM

Correction: Cross harp corresponds to the V chord. Play in E suck on a B. Play in G suck on a D.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Blues=Life
Date: 16 May 02 - 08:22 AM

Foe, I've got to disagree. Most books, and my last twenty years of playing, show that cross harp is the IV Chord. Like the man said, Play in E suck on an A. It could be that the V chord works for you. That's fine. but most players go with the IV. Blues


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,Foe
Date: 16 May 02 - 09:00 AM

That was my first thought then I went to a web page www.harmonicalessons.com/overview.html and the chart had cross harp for the key of E as B and cross harp for the key of G as D. Guess I'll have to get my harp holder out and play some blues tonight.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,Foe
Date: 16 May 02 - 09:21 AM

Shows what happens when you sit at a computer all day. I read the chart wrong. IV chord it is.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Mark Clark
Date: 16 May 02 - 10:59 AM

If you wish to play cross harp in the key of D, you do indeed want a G harp (IV chord to D). But if you have a G harp and are asking what key you're in when playing it crossed, the answer is D (V chord to G). It all depends on which way one asks the question.

I'm of the opinion that an accomplished harp player (definitely not me) can play a chromatic scale up and down on a ten-hole diatonic harp by deftly employing “bent” notes.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 16 May 02 - 12:38 PM

I would like to know if anyone has been successful at repairing stuck reeds. I have seen that a repair kit is offered by Lee Oskar, but having purchased several Oskars with the aim of replacing the reed plates when damaged, and then finding it nearly impossible to locate the replacement reed plates, I'm sceptical about the repair kits as well. I like the tone of the Hohners better, so I am using and disposing them. I've tried soaking the harps, but that only swells the wood so that it protrudes and hurts your mouth.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Les from Hull
Date: 16 May 02 - 02:31 PM

You can clean out harmonica reeds fairly easily, if you are gentle enough. You don't really need special tools - a pin will do it. Don't bend the reeds though, unless that reed isn't working and is already bent. If the wood protrudes you can carve it back with a craft knife.

You do need to get rid of some of the 'gunge' from time to time (you know where it comes from!), especially if you draw fairly hard (blues playing) a small piece may fly out down the back of your throat. That's not nice.

I reckon Lee Oskars are better harps and easier to maintain, and you should be able to get a music shop to get the replacement plates for you, although I've not needed any for years.

For people playing straight gob-iron, if you sing in F get a 'low F', which sounds much better that the normal one - it's an octave lower.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 16 May 02 - 02:43 PM

OK, Les. Give me your address and stand by to receive a box of used harps, mainly D's with the 5-hole stuck. No rush on the repair.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Les from Hull
Date: 16 May 02 - 06:22 PM

Well if they're broken, you're not going to break them by trying to fix them are you? Have a look at a good one and see how close the reed is to the reed plate. If the broken ones have the reed bent, you need to try to bend to the position of the good one. If they're just gunked up, get the pin out.

Most gob-iron players will know when an instrument isn't worth fixing any more. I've plenty of old Hohner Super Vampers from the Sixties and Seventies that aren't really going to get played again.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,Sebastian
Date: 16 May 02 - 06:23 PM

Thanks to all of you!

I haven't got any experience with playing blues harp but I will sit down and practice a lot the next few weeks. I don't play blues style, what i want to do is playing guitar and making interludes with my harp in the holder. So I think I'm going to play my G songs first and buy a D harp when I can afford it! Trollo I'm living in the Rhein-Ruhr area so I don't think we could meet and practice, but thanks to you for offering this. By the way: Understanding english is much more easier to me than writing so your short "tutorial" is understandable for me!

Bye, Sebastian


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 17 May 02 - 02:22 AM

IF...you are not going to play Blues Style...why did you buy a BLUES HARP?

Get a standard....C or G Horner Marine Band....PRACTICE a few basic tunes....

THEN....learn the chorus or melody of the piece you are working with.... play a "bridge" interlude from your main instrument...switch to the harmonica.....transition with a bridge on the main instrument back into the original key.

Your AUDIENCE will THINK you are BRILLANT!

Sincerly
Gargoyle


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 17 May 02 - 08:04 AM

Actually, there's very little difference between a "Blues Harp" (Hohner trademark name) and a regular harmonica; I think they adjusted the reed plate on the Blues Harp model to provide a little more room for bending, but as a practical matter the Hohner Blues Harp is pretty much the same as the good old Marine Band model.

I'm not sure from Sebastian's post whether he bought a Hohner Blues Harp or some other diatonic harmonica that the salesperson told him to play in "blues harp" style (cross harp, in other words). But either way, he should be okay.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,Sebastian
Date: 18 May 02 - 08:29 PM

What I have is a M.Hohner Blues Harp. The reason why I bought it is it's cheap price of about 25€. All the other harmonicas were much more expensive. A second reason was that some guys in the Irish Folk Band I'm playing with, play Hohner blues harps too and they produced a good sound. I wasn't able to ask them about what to buy to start playing because we haven't met for about 3 weeks. Although never having cared for the harps, keys or the style they are playing the harp(blues or normal style), I could remember that it were Hohner Blues Harps when the salesperson showed me one.

Sebastian


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Fred Miller
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 09:33 PM

Thanks Gargoyle. I was looking for any explanations of bending. I can bend notes but have never been able to teach anyone to do it. I'll have to try this.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,mike "mouthbender" james
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 04:29 AM

great to see so much helpful information moving between all you guys.

Just remember for the blues its like singing.lay it back, relax, and give it some attitude and it will sound like the blues even if it isnt.
For the irish band bend a few straight songs and you might get famous thats how bluegrass started.

good luck y'all


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 04:09 PM

I'm no expert ~ I carried an "A" harp around for years with the intention of learning to play blues in E, but never quite learned. My harmonica mostly served as nothing more than a pitch-pipe, plus I never hesitated to loan it to anyone able to play along competantly with my guitar blues in E.

One thing that I occasionally wonder ~ besides "straight" and "cross" harp, does anyone ever play minor-key tunes using a third different key-relationship?

I'm thinking, for example, about using a "C" diatonic harp to play in A-minor, a "G" harp for E-minor, etc. Such an arrangement would provide access to the appropriate notes for a complete minor-key scale, but I've never heard any discussion of such an approach, not like the usual talk about the blues/cross-harp key relationships.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 04:25 PM

A C harp played in "A minor" (i.e. in fourth position) is actually using A Aeolian mode. You could play Carolan's Welcome that way on a C harp. A G harp played in "E minor," fourth position again, is actually employing E Aeolian mode. You could, for example, play "The Butterfly" that way on a G harp. You can also use a D harp to play in E Dorian or B Aeolian. And a G harp could play tunes in A Dorian. Basically, third position plays Dorian modes and fourth position Aeolian modes. That sort of covers the "minor-sounding" tunes in Irish music, for example.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Artful Codger
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 08:11 AM

Most books on harmonica discuss playing minor tunes in the expected fourth position, and even in third and fifth, though there are "avoid" (unavailable) notes to deal with in these other positions.

Here are some difficulties you might run into playing minor tunes on a standard diatonic (Richter tuning):

(1) The tonic in the lowest full octave falls in a gap--you have to double-bend draw-3 to get it. Not especially hard, but its a bad sound for a tonic note.

(2) Minor tunes tend to have accidentals, particularly major 6ths and 7ths. Most of these are only achievable with overblows and triple bends; one is entirely missing.

(3) Some of the expressive bends you might want are impossible. Even if you have the skill to overblow/draw for missing notes, you can't do a partial overblow/draw, you can only bend a note higher after the first semitone.

(4) Chording is limited; you have the IV chord (D456 and D890), but only 3rd-5th dyads for I and 1st-3rd dyads for V/V7.


There are a couple alternatives:

(1) Get a harp with a "natural minor" or "harmonic minor" tuning. Natural minor tuning is like diatonic with the 3rds and 7ths (but NOT the 6ths) flatted--essentially Dorian in first position, Aeolian in crossharp. Harmonic minor tuning has the 3rds and 6ths (but NOT the 7ths) flatted, and you play it in first position; 7ths are bendable to minor in the lower and higher octaves, but not in the middle octave. Both Lee Oskars and Hohner Marine Bands are easily available (online) in both these tunings. Hohner Special 20s are also available in natural minor tuning. I've never tried either tuning, but the natural minor seems more generally useful, and I believe it supports chord vamping (but since it's played crossharp, you'd best check).

(2) Get a Lee Oskar Melody Maker (designed for playing major melodically in cross position) and play in fifth position. The Melody Maker tuning has fewer diatonic gaps than the Richter tuning--all fillable by single bends--and the bendable notes tend to fall in more usable places. Using bends, you can also play minor in 4th or even 3rd position--the other modes are similarly flexible. You sacrifice chording, but you don't have to buy a harps especially for minor, and you gain the ability to modulate on the fly.

IMPORTANT: Lee Oskar Natural Minors, Harmonic Minors and Melody Makers are labelled with the crossharp key (the key you'll mostly play in), while Hohners are labeled according to the first position key even when the tuning is designed for crossharp playing. Also, all Lee Oskars are designed with replaceable and interchangeable reed plates. Hohner doesn't yet offer harps with replaceable reed plates in altered tunings.

Now, strictly Aeolian melodies pose little problem for either the Richter, natural minor or Melody Maker tunings, though the last has the edge due to its relative lack of gaps and the ease with which they can be filled. The real choice depends on other aspects: which accidentals and bends will you most need, how much chording will you do, do you need to modulate on the fly, can you adapt quickly to new positions and tunings...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 09:13 AM

The vast majority of "minor-sounding" tunes in Irish and Scottish music are modal tunes, which means that, provided you choose the appropriate-key harp, there are no accidentals to get your tongue around. You really don't need those Lee Oskar minor-tuned harps at all (though I'm not saying they mayn't be fun...), and, personally, I have no use for Melody Maker tuning either. These harps may well play the tune you want, and be nicely funky, etc., but so will the standard harps, and, unlike the standard harps, they will screw up your ability to play sets of tunes with key-changes (which is restricted enough as it is in Irish with diatonic harps). Stichter Richter, say I - even better, tune up 3-blow on your harps a whole tone, giving you the Paddy Richter tuning which restores the missing 6th note in the bottom octave.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Artful Codger
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 12:32 PM

Ahem, PoppaGator only said "minor" tunes; his scope was not expressly limited to the subset you mention and his postings to other threads suggest otherwise.

Even in traditional Irish and Scottish "modal" tunes, accidentals are not infrequent, and can be problematic on a Richter diatonic, Paddy or otherwise. A number of traditional tunes vacillate between modes while maintaining the same tonic. Dance tunes composed in more recent times introduce even more chromatic variations. Similarly, fiddle tunes not infrequently transpose for a B part (particularly on this side of the pond)--having to switch harmonicas at the transition points isn't a satisfying option.

In the middle octave, the Richters are incapable of producing either the augmented fourth or the minor seventh without overblows, and you need one or the other to move into a neighboring key signature on the wheel of fifths. You can only avoid this limitation by using a gapped scale or restricting your playing range. I fail to see how a less key-restrictive tuning "screws up your ability to play sets of tunes with key-changes" when in fact it does the reverse. It's only the range shift which might be inappropriate, but equally well, it can make a part of the range available which the Richter tuning precluded.

While Richters may accommodate your narrow purview, for the wider world they have limitations which can be avoided by using other tunings. In fact, in rebutting my first point, you suggested the use of yet another alternate tuning, one which isn't even available off the shelf from the major suppliers. It may not be difficult to retune a harp, but most folks would rather not have to do it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Tootler
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 04:23 PM

If you are really that concerned about the limitations of the 10 Hole diatonic harmonica, then the solution is to play a chromatic harmonica. A twelve hole chromatic gives you all twelve notes of the chromatic scale over three octaves. Enough for most folk I would say.

Of course the chromatic harmonica has its own set of limitations. It is essentially a melody instrument with very limited chordal possibilities.

Personally I like the simplicity of the 10 hole diatonic harmonica and if there are key changes, then it is not too difficult to hold two harmonicas in one hand and swap from one to the other. The harmonic possibilities are also attractive. The Richter tuning was designed to enable the standard tonic dominant harmonies of many popular tunes and it works well for many folk tunes. The Paddy Richter variant extends the possibilities, especially for folk tunes in G which often go down to a low D and need the E below G.

10 hole diatonics are also cheap enough to be able to buy them in a range of keys.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 07:02 PM

Excellent, Tootler. You are clearly a player with a pragmatic approach, as indeed am I.   A sort of path-of-least-resistance chap. It's the only way to go for enthusiastic non-theoreticians who may be exceptionally musical but who wouldn't know an overblow from a bull's foot!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Bobert
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 07:19 PM

Blues harp??? No problem... Just put an ad on craigslist and folks will come outta the woodwork...

B;~)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Artful Codger
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 10:29 PM

Tootler: Chromatics have their own set of limitations; they're not the simple answer to the points I've raised. See my comments in this thread.

Steve: The Richter tuning is hardly "the only way to go". It's precisely because enthusiastic non-theoreticians can't overblow (even if their harps were tweaked to facilitate it) and struggle with double-bends, let alone triple ones, that I describe these other options, which can make it easier for them to play what they want to play.

Unlike Paddy Richter harps, which you have to retune yourself, the altered tuning harps I mentioned are easily obtained online and cost no more than regular diatonics; they are available in the same range of standard keys. If you want to change keys by changing harps, you can do it just as easily with these types of harps, and the Melody Maker allows you to change keys without changing harps at all (which may reduce the number of harps you need to buy) while still playing in familiar positions. I fail to see how they are any less "pragmatic"--quite the reverse. Clearly you don't like them, but why be the dog in the manger?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 12:09 PM

A practical tip for the blues harp player while on stage: Get yourself a Hohner "bandalero" harp belt. Either wear it or attach it to a mike stand, conga drum, etc. The belt has 7 slots for the major keys you will play, especially if you do Blues. When you buy a new harp, remove the key sticker from the case and attach it to the top right section of the harp. Now you will have your harps organized and clearly marked, even on a darkened stage, and will prevent those embarrassing upside-down and wrong key episodes.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 02:58 PM

I am glad that my question may have prompted additional discussion beyond a simple answer to the somewhat limited inquiry I was able to voice. Some of the discussion has been well over my head, but I can figure out most of it from context, and at any rate, I'm still not a harmonica player. I would hope that those who do play the instrument have found new and interesting insights.

So...don't stop now!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Tootler
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 04:43 PM

AC, I agree that chromatic harmonicas have their limitations, but your previous post seemed to be so negative about diatonic harmonicas that I felt some comment was needed.

All instruments have their limitations and the choice of instrument involves compromises somewhere.

If you are playing a diatonic instrument, then your choice will usually be governed by the type of music you are playing and whether your instrument will meet the demands placed on it by the music you play. For my own purposes, Paddy Richter tuned diatonics will do what I want. In fact they give you two complete octaves, but dominant to dominant rather than tonic to tonic. They also have some interesting harmony possibilities in modes commonly encountered in Traditional music in the British Isles. Most of the time, three harmonicas suffice to play the tunes I meet here in NE England, G and A in Paddy Richter tuning and a low D in normal Richter tuning. A Paddy Richter tuned C is also useful. Contrary to what you say, it is possible here in the UK at least to buy Paddy Richter tuned harmonicas so I don't have to retune them myself which I prefer not to do, though I am sure I could if I had to, I just don't want to.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Artful Codger
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 04:13 PM

Here's Sam Hinton with a perfect example of why one would get a natural minor harp rather than playing in fourth position:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P93ctZNRSl8

The chording is only possible with a natural minor tuning.

He also demonstrates swapping between harps mid-tune, either to change key or to get additional chords. In the first two selections, he uses two harps, in the last, four!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 06:52 PM

Might as well Paddify the low D, too, Tootler, as there's nothing to be lost and you'll be able to play Home Ruler/Kitty's Wedding on it... ;-

Some of us are not especially interested in chording, AC. I'm happy to sit in my session, blending with the others, playing single-note melodies, which is what the rest are doing on the whole. Well, with just the occasional double stop...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Artful Codger
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 01:56 PM

Fortunately, "some of you" doesn't typify the general field of harmonica players, or the instrument would be denigrated even more than it is.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 01:08 PM

Sam Hinton 84 years old and good.
Steve Shaw[whats this paddifying crap?]that note is just as useful for Scottish and English tunes,A fair proportion of the Irish repertoire is Scottish in origin anyway.,and even a bit of it English.
how are the inconsiderate dog owners in Cornwall?
have you trained them all yet to use their poooper scoopers.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 04:16 PM

Thanks, Mr Codger. You are demonstrating a load of theoretical "knowledge" when we all know that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If you sit in a session all night playing chords, good luck to you. You wouldn't last ten minutes round here doing that. Most harmonica players I've met who do that do it because they're not very good at doing tunes. I'm sure that you're quite possibly an honourable exception. Melodies is what Irish music is all about, not chords, old chap.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 04:24 PM

Sadly, Sam Hinton died on Sept 10.

I agree absolutely about the missing note. "Paddifying" is a term which means altering the tuning of a harmonica in order to put that note back. It is generally done by tuning up the 3-blow reed by a whole tone.   The resulting tuning is called the Paddy Richter tuning, so-dubbed by Brendan Power, who is credited with having made the tuning popular.   We have been here before, you know.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Tootler
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 05:53 PM

Steve,

I do have a Paddy Richter tuned D at normal pitch which is useful for song accompaniment, but it is also useful for a few tunes as you say. I don't know the particular tunes you mentioned as I mostly play English stuff but I have been learning the St Kilda Wedding and it is needed for that one.

AC
I am coming to the conclusion that much of this argument about the different tunings is somewhat sterile. All the various tunings that have been mentioned are aimed at overcoming some perceived disadvantage of the standard Richter tuning and will suit the music for which they were developed. The Paddy Richter tuning happens to be the one that best suits the folk music of the British Isles because of the range of most of the tunes. For example a Paddy Richter tuned G harmonica works well for tunes in G, Em and A Dorian as it keeps the melody in the middle of the harmonica where it is at its best.

I considered the melody maker tuning which does give you two full octaves as you say, but the actual range is not quite right. It would probably be OK for playing in D and related modes, but not for G and overall it is easier if you are using the same pattern in different keys.

Here is Sam Hinton playing an Irish hornpipe using a harmonica in standard Richter Tuning. While he is able to bend down a whole tone to get the E in the first octave, it does not sound quite convincing to me and many probably would not be able to bend that much or that accurately, so the Paddy Richter tuning is preferable in that situation, though it will not suit other situations.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 05:53 PM

Steve,have a listen to pip murphy,he sometimes played melody and chords,while playing irish tunes.
With Irish music there is room for plenty of different styles,melodies and chords are what irish music is about,just as much as single note melody,variety is the spice of life.
[Melodies is what Irish music is all about, not chords, old chap.]quote Steve Shaw.
that really is patronising.
music is music whether its Irish,Scottish,American,chords suit all kinds of music the secret is knowing which chords to use and which notes to leave out,and when to use and when not to use.
that statement of yours reminds of the sort of rubbish that is talked on the session,by people like yourself and that twerp llig leahcim.
irish music when analysed uses about four modes,the major key the dorian, the mixolydian,and the aeolian,for a start most of the tunes in the major key fit well with chords.
check out some of the scottish mouthies,playing some of the tunes you claim to be irish,and you will find that your statement is not true.
here are some to be getting along with that do work with chords on the harmonica,Pretty Maggie Morrissey,Mcleods Reel.Greencastle Hornpipe,Father Kellys.Heather breeze
Finally I would like to quote from the sleeve notes of Trip to Cullenstown[phil ,john and pip murphy]he[phil] devised a playing technique ,that incorporated vamping accompaniment.PHIL MURPHY WON THE ALL Ireland three times.
Steve Shaw what you say contradicts Phil Murphy,are you claiming that you know more about irish music on the harmonica than a 3 times all ireland champion.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 07:55 PM

Flippin' eck!

I have never claimed any tune to be from any particular nation. I leave that kind of scholarship to those who would rather do scholarship than play tunes, frankly. Now I like the Murphys and all harmonica players of Irish have much to thank them for (and I do have ~that~ recording), but, equally, there is much that is not ideal. For a start (hobby hoss comin' up...), in their recording, as with those of several other harmonica luminaries who turn their hands to Irish, the harmonica is the point of the thing rather than the tunes. There is the struggle to show that harmonica decorations can be right up there with fiddle-flute-pipes ornamentations, and instruments are frequently grievously modified to achieve this. The upshot is recordings in which painfully unauthentic rolls and cuts are all too prominent, and this makes for tedious listening. I acknowledge the vital importance of ornamentation in Irish, but I contend that the humble (ha!), unmodified blues harp (well, Paddified at any rate) has a good natural range of ornamentation available to a reasonably skilled player. Just think of all those wonderful tremolo players (Noel Battle for one - ten times All-Ireland chap...how many times did you say that Mr Murphy won it? Heheh!) They don't bend or have buttons or play massively-tweaked harps but they play the tunes wonderfully authentically and their all-too-few recordings are a pleasure for repeated listening.

Vamping accompaniment is available to tongue-blockers, but not all harmonica players use that technique. Will Atkinson was a wonderful exponent of it. But with the best will in the world (no pun intended), the chords available are strictly limited, and all too often the vamping sounds miserably out of tune. Whatever you say (and I take it you're a sessiondotorg man here in disguise whom I've occasionally sparred with), Michael is dead right when he asserts that the absolute heart of Irish is the melody. The tune. All chordal or rhythmic accompaniment is strictly optional. I'm not against it and I love all my Bothy Band recordings and the rest. But the chords are optional.   The lyricism of Irish tunes is more than enough to allow them to stand up alone for themselves. That's probably how it was anyway until the era of those exiles in America with their awful piano accompanists, then the age of sessions and supergroups. Listen to a bit of pure drop. Yep, the world moves on, but at least you'll convince yourself of the essentially melodic nature of Irish music.

And I'm not patronisng and I'm a harmonica player. You do have to wonder...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 09:03 PM

Here...let ol Sonny Boy show you how its done


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 09:08 PM

and it looks like he was the lunch entertainment at a convention of accountants.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 06:50 AM

I play the harmonica too,in fact I am a Munster champion,and yes you were being patronising.
I repeat there is nothing particularly special about irish music,it is music, it uses a lot of the same modes as a lot of other western traditional music[scottish english american french german],some of it is suited to chordal backing some of it is more suited to dyad[two note power chords].
michael is a prat of the highest order,furthermore melody is something that is of importance to all traditiuonal melody not just irish,but that does not mean that chording on the harmonica is always inappropriate.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Tootler
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 04:41 PM

Did someone mention Sonny?

or how about this?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 07:34 PM

I think I recognise you, old soldier, and I think that you will contradict whatever I say. And I've never heard of your harmonica-playing. Tempt me (as for me, send me a tenner and you can have my CD!) Perhaps I'll continue talking to sensible people only and not those with some agenda or other. Good night, old chap.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 09:00 PM

well Steve,search and you will find,its out there and available
I have listened to your tracks,which are competent,and Very occasionally very good. but [imo]not in the class of the Murphys.
I would agree with the reviewer,quote [Perhaps sometimes the pace veers towards the plodding, as on the jigs, Out on the Ocean and Blarney Pilgrim.]
On those tracks and a couple of others you dont sound like your enjoying yourself,it sounds like your being too careful,and are frightened of making mistakes.
when I listen to Trip to Cullenstown[the Murphys]I hear musicians who sound like they are enjoying themselves,I hear musicians who sound at ease with their instrument , their joy of playing and their skill shines through.,it sounds like dance music,you cant stop your feet tapping
they very occasionally make chordal mistakes,however their music makes you want to get up and dance.,and IMO is a joy to listen to.
your playing of the Carolan numbers is good,your song accompaniment and your ornamentation is good,but its all too restrained and polite for my taste,to me the harmonica is a dirty low down instrument,you sound like you would be at home at the vicars tea party eating cucumber sandwiches, its clean cut, very refined and[imo] just too polite.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 09:40 PM

Can you kids play nice? I'm sure you are both a hell of a lot better than me and Tootler on the old gob iron, but you don't see us taking pot shots at anybody.
Or, if you can't play nice, at least stage a YouTube Harp Duel and let us all be the judges.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 12:11 AM

"How to play the 'Blues Harp?'" ... listen to Little Walter.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 04:41 AM

Thanks for the "review." Clueless though interesting.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM

I hope you take my criticism as constructive,your playing is good,I do think that if you were to add chords occasionally[only a personal opinion]your style would be improved,my thoughts are these,that the addition of occasional chords would turn your playing from being good to excellent ,I think chords [in the right places]help to provide more emphasis and a bit more oomph and drive.
this is why I think your playing of the o carolan peices is better than the polkas and the out on the ocean set.
its these two tracks that particularly lack drive.
I would be interested to know why you think my remarks are clueless.
I live close to the sliabh luchra area,and am very well acquainted with the cork/ kerry style of polkas,I hear a lot of Sliabh Luchra music and I reckon your playing lacks the necessary drive and rhythym.,its just not dancey enough.
if you cant take constructive criticism ,thats your problem not mine.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 08:25 AM

Good. Enjoy your Sliabh Luachra. Your credentials for criticism are far from convincing. But fire away. As Jeremy has probably often bid you in PMs, bye!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 10:03 AM

Steve,this is not a competitionbetwen you and I.
I have complimented you upon some of your playing,I also agreed with the reviewers criticisms.
this is about two different styles,you made a remark about chordal playing and irish music,you dismiss a three times all ireland champion phil murphy who chooses to use a chordal style.
like you, I have made cds which contain my harmonica playing,like you my playing is available for people to listen to.
I can only say that all the judges I have played harmonica for have been complimentary,and have remarked upon my sliabh luchra style of polka playing.
These are my credentials,I am a Munster champion,and one of my pupils has won an all ireland.
plus my harmonica music which is available on the net and on my cds
unlike you I do not dismiss other styles other than my own,but actually believe [as I have said earlier in this thread],that different styles are what make Irish music interesting.
it is you that made the following remark
[Melodies is what Irish music is all about, not chords, old chap.]
tell that to the Murphys.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST,Rob the roadie
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 12:12 PM

Ask Brendan Power he should know as he is awsome on it!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 02:24 PM

Dick Miles, I will not discuss anything with you whilst you continue to misrepresent what I have said in the thread. Anyone even faintly interested in this discussion (assuming here that I'm not the only madman around) can see this for themselves so I don't know why you carry on doing it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: meself
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 07:36 PM

Mr Schweik, a few points, if I may:

1) On diplomacy. There is no reason to suppose that Steve S. is not as open to "constructive criticism" as the next man - however, criticism is rarely constructive when it is preceded by an unpleasant exchange of barbed remarks. If you really want your criticism to be constructive, you need to establish, or re-establish, some kind of fellow-feeling before making it. Assertion of one's bona fides is not an acceptable substitute.

2) Your criticisms of Steve's CD are unfair on several counts. Firstly, he is not trying to play like the Murphys; it is clear from his and your comments that he is not quite as taken with their style as you are. Steve has made it clear here and elsewhere that he is put off by the occasionally discordant or slightly-out-of-tune effect of chording/vamping, and presumably does not feel that the "oomph and drive" factor make up for it - so why would he put into his playing? This seems to me an entirely subjective matter; your ear vs. his ear - there's a kind of sound that appeals to you; there's another kind that appeals to Steve. Secondly, and similarly, the supposed almost "plodding" of the jigs - entirely subjective; one man's plodding is another man's racing, and some prefer plodding to racing anyway. (And that was my opinion when I read the review which you quote). As for his playing being "not dancey enough" - not dancey enough for who or what? Thirdly, re: your remark that Steve on his CD sounded at times "too careful" or like he's "not enjoying himself", and that this means he's not in the "same class" as the Murphys - well, perhaps the Murphys are able to relax and enjoy themselves in a recording studio, but I have known and known of many masterful trad. musicians whose studio recordings have nothing of the excitement of their usual ("live") playing. In the same vein, I've known musicians who have been tremendous in the kitchen, but who are just ordinary on the stage. When I listen to Steve's CD, btw, it never occurs to me to wonder whether or not he was enjoying himself. I enjoy myself.

3) Why does everyone pick on the poor old vicar and his cucumber sandwiches? Never did anyone no harm as far as I know.

FWIW, based solely on your comments, I suspect that my own musical sensibility is closer to yours than to Steve's - but his approach is perfectly valid, as far as I am concerned, and his music should be appreciated on its own terms rather than being criticised for not being more like the Murphys'.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 08:51 PM

The tempo for those jigs was my choosing, having heard Irvine and Brady play "Blarney Pilgrim" at that tempo on ~that~ recording. I wish we'd done it faster. But that was us, there and then. I like the Murphys' record and I picked up several tunes from it, but I rarely listen to it these days. Probably about as often as I listen to my own.

For the record, Dick has had issues with me, Michael Gill (whom he twice insulted in a most unforced way in this thread) and the reviewer of my CD in the past, and denizens of TheSession will be fully aware of this, despite Dick's propensity for changing his name at frequent intervals. Some of us can discuss things afresh with all baggage left behind. Alas, others cannot.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 08:52 PM

Cheers, meself, by the way. :-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 08:21 AM

meself ,I have made it quite clear,that I thought some of Steves playing very good,I have made it clear that my comments were subjective[imo]over and over again.
his music was criticised by a reviewer,criticisms that I agreed with,I also praised some of his tunes.
[not dancey enough not dancey enough for who or what ]quote.
sliabh luchra dancing.
this is supposed to be dance music the addition of a few appropriate chotrds can[imo] gives the music some omph.
   finally IT WAS Steve who had an issue with me and also with Will Evans OVER on the session,despite that, I have been fair in my review,praising that which I thought good and criticising as did the reviewer [two tracks]the reviewer criticised only one specifically.
[Dick's propensity for changing his name at frequent intervals. Some of us can discuss things afresh with all baggage left behind]QUOTE .       I have changed my name here once in SEVERAL YEARS,the reason for that was because Geoff Wallis called me Captain Birdbrain[instead of Captain Birdseye].
I am of the opinion that chords in irish music are very appropriate if the players knows what they are doing,listen to piano accompanists like the one with the allow ceilidh band.
[sometimes it is more appropriate to use dyads or double stops of a fifth,it just depends.
to get back on topic the ideal[imo] is to have three harmonicas one tuned in paddy richter and one tuned the traditional way,plus amelody maker.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 10:24 AM

of course one of the other advantages of tongue blocking,is the ability to play octaves,something I cant do,but it is another feature of Sliabh Luchra music.
meself,
visit dickmiles music,or my websitehttp://www.dickmiles.com there are harmonica tracks on mycds,and on you tube


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 07:06 AM

MESELF ,this is purely subjective,but I think part of the style of playing blues harp is bending notes.
I also think [and I live very close to Sliabh Luchra,and hear a lot of the music]that Sliabh Luchra,style of Irish Polkas requires a driving aggressive vigorous approach.which is suited by chordal or octave playing,Octave playing can be achieved by tongue blocking,chordal can be acheived either way.
Steve your playing of OCarolan,and the reels is very good,but you havent got it on the polkas or the out on the ocean set,you need to listen to Johhny o leary,or jackie daly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: meself
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 11:20 AM

Dick - Read and noted. I don't have time to respond now, going to be away for a few days. Maybe when I get back ....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 06:17 PM

Not only do I listen to Johnny O'Leary, I've heard him live, chatted with him and bought him a pint or three. Salt of the Earth. Rest ye, Johnny! I also listen to and admire the playing of Jackie Daly, whose "Sliabh Luachra Vol 6" album got me playing Irish tunes on the harmonica. The problem is, Dick, is that you seem to think that living there is some kind of qualification for sounding off about it. Not so, as you so amply demonstrate with your ill-considered opinions. I'm sure that there are hundreds of country music fans who live near you who are about as qualified to pontificate about Sliabh Luachra tunes as I am to expound my opinions on the little green men who live on Saturn's fifth rock. Proximity is no qualification at all. One of the great things that sets Sliabh Luachra music apart, if indeed it is apart these days, is the direct and unadorned approach. When I play those slides and polkas that's what I try to do. If it's wrong but I'm still having fun anyway I shall simply have to shrug in your general direction. Chordal my arse, octaves my arse. Do what you do do well and stop trying to be so prescriptive. Neither Johnny nor Jackie would admire you for that. And neither do I.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 09:31 PM

You know, we have the Fighting Irish in the US too. They don't play Blues Harps though. They play football.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 06:25 AM

steve if you cant take constructive criticism thats your problem,
[One of the great things that sets Sliabh Luachra music apart, if indeed it is apart these days, is the direct and unadorned approach. When I play those slides and polkas that's what I try to do] quote SteveShaw.
the reviewer remarked that the out on the ocean set is plodding,I agree,
I also think it applies to the polka set[a purely subjective opinion],but relevant to this discussion because you are using a SINGLE NOTE STYLE,and I reckon that if you were to use chords,or octaves you would get a bit more emphasis,that is part of the point of double stopping or octaving or chording it provides dynamics,dynamism is what is lacking on those tunes[in my opinion].
the rest of yor playing is very good,I think your style particularly suits the O carolan tunes.
if you cant take the heat get out of the kitchen,or dont make a cd.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 08:08 AM

I will put alink up to my playing of an irish polka,using chords on a 10 hole hamonica not in paddy richter tuning.
it illusrates how chords do suit SOME tunes,it also shows a different style not necessarily better[thats subjective]it shows how on occasions a chordal approach does work.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y_fG9GUWz8http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y_fG9GUWz8
This is not a competition,hopefully just a demonstration of how several styles can work


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Tootler
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 02:45 PM

You know, we have the Fighting Irish in the US too. They don't play Blues Harps though. They play football.

Not quite Lonesome EJ. Two Englishmen arguing over Irish music in the manner only the English can. Go to any pub in England and you will hear arguments like this every day of the week; live - usually over football, though (the round ball type played over here) [grin]


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 04:54 PM

I'm not arguing with him. There's no point. In any case, he's put his harmonica "playing" up there now for all to savour. My case is well and truly rested (what was it now...I seem to have forgotten...)

:-D


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 05:33 PM

so whats all the crap about the fact I changed my name.
quote[despite Dick's propensity for changing his name at frequent intervals.]In any case, he's put his harmonica "playing" up there now for all to savour.
it was up there all the time,on you tube under dickmilesmusic,there was/is a slow air,jig, hornpipe, reel.,plus its on my cds,along with my singing,concertina playing ,and guitar playing .

I have had the temerity to critcise two tracks on your cd,get over it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 01:17 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JZZPRPbV5Q
heres a jig with a bit of tongueing,some blue notes,some dirty notes,and some jaw triplets ,I reckon the blues harp techniques are not out of place in irish music,sorry if its not clean cut enough.
but I dont do cucumber andwiches


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Ernest
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 01:41 PM

Not bad for a...........................drafted dogcatcher from Prague.

;0)
Ernest


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 Sep 09 - 06:11 AM

"I've got a Folk Harp, and I wanna paint it Bl-oo-oo-ue!"


I'll get me 'at...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 30 Sep 09 - 11:16 AM

Dick, having just endured that, I don't know how you can possibly think that you could set yourself up as a critic of my playing. Still, fire away. No skin off my nose! :-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Sep 09 - 01:05 PM

Did /does Geoff Wallis [the reviewer]play?,does any critic have to play,
no they dont,
however I do play,and have won harmonica competitions[and there were seven other contestants].
Steve, get over it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Sep 09 - 01:50 PM

Actually, Dick,

I've been playing the harmonica for some forty years.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 30 Sep 09 - 01:57 PM

For goodness sake, Dick. That clip is just awful! Someone has to tell you. As for competitions, frankly I've never felt the need to compete. I do this for fun. Good luck to those who think differently. As for Geoff, I seem to remember your quoting him several times to support your own "review." Make yer mind up!

And what's a "jaw triplet," while you're here? Nighty night!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 08:11 AM

a jaw triplet,are you serious?,
it is a flick to the right or the left with the jaw,to make a note either a third above or below in the same wind direction.
Steve,You know very well that a critic does not have to play the instrument to criticise, whatever you think of my playing the fact of the matter is ,I have been playing Irish music on the concertina and harmonica for many years I am acquainted with ornamentation and styles, a reasonable enough basis to make a criticism,if you cant take constructive criticism,you might as well pack up.
your playing good though it is lacks drive on two tracks,one way you could improve would be to use octave tongue blocking,this allows you to play in octaves[especially on the sliabh luchra polkas].


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 09:07 AM

Ah, jaw flicks. Yep, I use those. I won't start to list the ways I think you could improve, Dick. Knowing your own limitations is a good start, in fact it's half the battle.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: How to play the 'Blues Harp'
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 10:41 AM

what is your problem I have said your cd is very good,I have criticised two tracks,the same criticism that the reviewer made.
I know my limitations,I also know that I can sing, play the concertina and the guitar well[check out my you tube videos or my cds],the harmonica is not my first instrument,but I am still a munster champion,and one of my pupils won the all ireland on the harmonica,I would think that would make my criticism valid enough.
even if I couldnt play anything,that would not be a reason why I could not make a valid criticism.
I think if you used more chords and some octave work,your playing would be even better.
octave tongue blocking is a difficult technique[I am working on it myself]but I reckon it sounds pretty good on sliabh luchra music ,reminiscent of the octave fiddling style.
many music critics can not play anything,does that stop them?
no, of course it doesnt.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 20 June 7:43 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.