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how to play a jaws harp

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Attn: Jews Harp Players (34)
Help: Jew's Harp question! (56)
Any jews harp players out there? :-) (28)


GUEST,ossonflags 08 Apr 03 - 04:37 AM
Mark Cohen 08 Apr 03 - 04:51 AM
GUEST,Bystander 08 Apr 03 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 08 Apr 03 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,misophist 08 Apr 03 - 11:06 AM
Blackcatter 08 Apr 03 - 11:26 AM
Cluin 08 Apr 03 - 03:27 PM
GUEST,Q 08 Apr 03 - 05:30 PM
Blackcatter 08 Apr 03 - 06:02 PM
GUEST,Q 08 Apr 03 - 06:25 PM
GUEST,Ivor hughe - hampton 09 Apr 03 - 02:41 AM
John MacKenzie 09 Apr 03 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Q 09 Apr 03 - 04:45 PM
Blackcatter 09 Apr 03 - 09:33 PM
GUEST 13 May 10 - 11:35 AM
beeliner 13 May 10 - 12:15 PM
open mike 13 May 10 - 02:15 PM
Art Thieme 13 May 10 - 02:36 PM
GUEST,Songbob 13 May 10 - 02:49 PM
GUEST,dan 22 Dec 10 - 12:19 PM
EBarnacle 22 Dec 10 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 22 Dec 10 - 12:34 PM
GUEST,guest 22 Dec 10 - 01:02 PM
GUEST 22 Dec 10 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,guest gutcher 22 Dec 10 - 02:17 PM
Dave Hanson 23 Dec 10 - 04:41 AM
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Subject: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,ossonflags
Date: 08 Apr 03 - 04:37 AM

I was rooting around in an old cupboard the other day and came across a jaws harp. After a cuple a days my front teeth are aching and as yet cant get anything out of it but a dull buzz. Any ideas?


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 08 Apr 03 - 04:51 AM

You sure you didn't actually find an old dentist's drill?

Aloha,
Mark

P.S.: If you check out this thread, you'll find an interesting discussion of the jews harp. Scroll down to a post by Jon W. (#13) that has pretty good directions on how to play.


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,Bystander
Date: 08 Apr 03 - 08:12 AM

Michael Wright, top jew's harpist is in London at Musical Traditions Club, The King & Queen, Foley Street,(Goodge Street Station) on Friday April 25th. He knows all there is to know.


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 08 Apr 03 - 09:48 AM

Have you ever tried to make tones by thumping you cheeck with a finger, or tapping the front teeth, while making a hollow space in your mouth? Same technique.

The mouth cavity is expanded, the jaw set, the throat opened and the tones produced by changing the resonance space with the tongue and jaw.

I've aways called it a JEWS-Harp.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,misophist
Date: 08 Apr 03 - 11:06 AM

For those who don't like the name 'Jew's Harp', Margaret Murray claims that in the Middle Ages/ Elizibethan Era it was called a 'tromp'.


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: Blackcatter
Date: 08 Apr 03 - 11:26 AM

Check out these two jews harp links:

Jews Harp Guild

Mouth Music

You'll see info on how to play them as well as info on why they're commonly called jews harps in North America and why many regular players still call them that.

And keep trying. Set it in front of your teeth with the diagonal of each bar resting against the edge with enough room for the "twangy bit" to go back and forth, and put your lips around the rest to seal it so the sound only will come through the center. Breathing in and out while plucking will increase the volume quite a lot on good jews harps too.

The biggest problem is that the ones you find in most music shops are cheap and aren't nearly as good as "professional" models. Most of my collection go for around $20 to $40 dollars and each us tuned to a certain key.


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: Cluin
Date: 08 Apr 03 - 03:27 PM

Play around with it; keep your teeth, lips and tongue out of the way; try breathing in and out a bit during the notes, changing the size of your mouth cavity and pulling your lips back in a sort of grimace for more thin sounds occasionally; keep the tines of the jew's harp firmly against your front teeth, not between them and don't bite down. And develop a sort of "strumming" rhythm with your twanging hand. Practice.

By the way, different sizes of jew's harps will produce different ranges of notes. You can't use one single one for all keys (if you care about that sort of thing... some people don't).


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 08 Apr 03 - 05:30 PM

Jews harp and Jews trump are names for the same twinger-twanger-twonger instrument. See OED. Both names were extant in the 16th century. Tromp is a variant of trump.


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: Blackcatter
Date: 08 Apr 03 - 06:02 PM

Correct, Q.

The "jews" appears to have no connection to the religion. It likely derrived from some other word, but no one has been able to figure it out. "jaw" occured much later (20th Century) and likely stems from the embarassment some people felt about the name jews harp. Your jaws have little to do with playing a jews harp. If anything a "teeth harp" would be more appropriate.

One could also use any of the non-American terms as well including:

England - Gewgaw
Germany - Maultrommel (which means mouth drum)
Japan - Koukin
Russia - Vargan
Siberia - Khomus
Philippines - Kumbing and kubing
Italy - Scacciapensieri
Norway - munnharpa or munnharpe
France - guimbarde
Bali - genggong


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 08 Apr 03 - 06:25 PM

Politically correct gone crazy! Does anyone know of one of the Jewish faith objecting to the name?
Personally, I find the name Irish harp degrading. And the French Horn- throw that name on the trash pile as well. Throw the horn after the name, it is a noisy thing, hardly conducive to sleeping during a concert. I could go on-

The suggestion of "gewgaw" is useless, the term has several meanings, the most used being "a gaudy trifle," but it has already been applied to a flute and to a pipe as well as to the Jew's harp.


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,Ivor hughe - hampton
Date: 09 Apr 03 - 02:41 AM

here we go again!!!!! poor old ossonflags asks for a little info on jaws harps and gets all this pseudo intellectual pysco babble about political correctness. Carm on Q get with the programme !!!!!


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 09 Apr 03 - 03:29 PM

Dave Goulder is the person to consult on this subject. He has a lovely box of tricks containing a multiplicity of Jews/jaws harps, it was as a result of his info that I first learned that they are available in different keys. However; I can't tell the difference!!
Philistine....Giok


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 09 Apr 03 - 04:45 PM

For a picture of a variety of Jew's harps, see: Jew's Harps


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Subject: RE: Tech: how to play a jaws harp
From: Blackcatter
Date: 09 Apr 03 - 09:33 PM

Come on, Ivor - we gave ossonflags the info needed - hints from experienced players and links to extensive websites. Anything eles is for our pleasure and possibly for the edification of others. Everytime I begin playing my jews harps, someone comes up to me to ask questions. Until that stops happening, I'm going to share what I know. This thread can be dropped into by many people who just have an vague interest in 'harps and the info shared here might be helpful.

And anyway - this is a time honored tradition at Mudcat. For as long as I've been here - now nearly 5 years.

pax yall


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST
Date: 13 May 10 - 11:35 AM

I recently started playing the jaw harp (jew's harp, whatever) and I found the tutorial on Jaw Harp Guide really helpful for getting those first sounds out. Hope that helps!


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: beeliner
Date: 13 May 10 - 12:15 PM

While there is some uncertainty regarding the etymology, the consensus seems to be that it comes from the French word 'jeu', meaning 'toy'.


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: open mike
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:15 PM

make sure to keep your mouth open and your teeth far enough apart that the blade or tongue (moving part) has room to pass between
your teeth as it vibrates...avoid dental work

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jew%27s_harp

http://www.davidholt.com/music/playjawharp.html - David Holt's tutorial

if a picture is worth 1,000 words, how many is a moving picture worth?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddhb8oKoWmon - jaw harp heaven

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx0nnZZVnd8 - appalachian style

there is actually a festival...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LMrSgRgiEk&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23kzXRaosyA&feature=related
auld lang syne

Buffy St. Marie plays mouth bow on Pete Seeger's t.v.show
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krx2MoTaAVo&feature=related

http://www.alashensemble.com/instruments_xomus.htm
in Tuva this type of instrument is called xomus of khomus
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIFgGveeF84

and in India..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnMXzCGNPSo&feature=related

Kyrgyzstan...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPTWQnEMEjg&feature=related

there is also a video from Brazil (or Portugal)
they are also popular/common in Scandinavian Norwegian music.


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: Art Thieme
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:36 PM

I played jews harp for 40 years on stage and there is some good info in this thread. It is always a good change-up in a program.

Art


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:49 PM

The original poster, ossonflags, never said whether the damned harp was actually playable. If it has too much space between frame and tongue (the instrument's, not his), it won't be any good in any way. If he/she wants to try a better one, he/she should buy an inexpensive but playable one from a good music shop. The Austrian harps I see aren't bad at all, for instance, and eBay will give him/her a boat-load of other options.

If you want a really top-notch one for not much money (relatively speaking), look up "Dan Moi" on eBay or even the web. These are Vietnamese brass harps which are laser-cut and are played on the lips, not the teeth, and are louder than hell, sweet-toned, and just super.

But if the harp CAN be played, placing it on the teeth with the teeth open enough for the harp's tongue to vibrate, then closing the lips around the frame so air can pass ONLY through the middle of the harp, with the vibrating tongue, and the result will be the best possible for a given harp. Once a good twang is achieved, breath in and out in a rhythmic pattern (the sound gets louder) and move your tongue up and down (the pitch of the overtones changes). Use the vowel sounds (A, E, I, O, U) to try different pitches, and then search for tunes among the better overtones. Tunes with strong 1, 3, 5, 2, & 6 notes will be easier -- "Cripple Creek," "Skip to My Lou," etc. are good starter tunes.

And keep looking for the perfect harp. If you find it, send it to me.


Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,dan
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 12:19 PM

ossonflags,

For me, I just learned how to position it from this how to play the jaw harp article and played around for awhile. After probably a half hour I was getting some good sounds. I was also getting a pretty tired mouth!


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: EBarnacle
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 12:26 PM

Long ago, in my misspent youth, which I fondly recall, I saw a Bruce harp which was clearly a Jews Harp.


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 12:34 PM

A good instrument is half the battle; as far as standard Jew's Harps my favourites right now are Szilagyi Black Fires which I have in various keys down to a very lo-D. Being Hungarian instruments we might call these Doromb.

The definitive Jew's Harp supplier: Dan Moi - The Jews Harp Site

Try a Vietnamese Dan Moi for amazing harmonics & resonance - available in all keys costs next to nowt & requires no dental contact whatsoever, though watch out for those facial hairs...


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 01:02 PM

It"s aye been a trump in Scotland.
A 15th./ 16th..Gordon clapped in the dungeon and due for the chop in
the morning. The King pays a visit to the dungeon to gloat expecting
to find Gordon subdued and lamenting, instead there he was playing
away on his trump. The King was so impressed with his demeanour
that he granted him a free pardon.

Given a bit of time I could probably come up with names andd dates.


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 02:15 PM

I also seem to recall reading extracts from the treasurers accounts
for journeys by Scottish kings, during the 14th. and 15th Cs., to
the religous shrine at Whithorn, making payment to trump players,
among others, for playing to the king.

The Gordon mentioned above could have been a Baron,Lord, Earl or
Duke.


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: GUEST,guest gutcher
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 02:17 PM

Sorry the last two posts were mine.
Joe.


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Subject: RE: how to play a jaws harp
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 23 Dec 10 - 04:41 AM

They can be played held against the lips instead of the teeth.

Dave H


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