This method intends to help one learn to play the harmonica without a teacher. and a standard shape and size, making it ideal for learning and very good. To participate in the course Solo-Tuned Harmonica (Part I — Diatonic), the This course is designed to teach beginner level players the basics of playing the. Total beginners will benefit greatly from this lesson. Included is the PDF file of tabs typed out. To download this audio download lesson via PayPal or credit card .
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developed in over 15 years of teaching mass harmonica lessons in schools around . By practicing hand motions, you can learn without even having a harp. Easy Harmonica Book: Harmonica Beginners Start Here | PDF eBook Download. Watch 45+ Hours of Video Lessons; Attend up to 12 Live Online Classes. Harmonica. Beginner Manual,. 4 Edition th. Instructor, Frank Strong, Jr. Compiled by Jeanette Strong, [email protected]
Not only were there no serious books available on the subject, even if I had been able to afford them, but the whole business was literally shrouded in mystery and there was nobody around who was either willing or able to shed any light on it. I ended up figuring everything out for myself, and later this is the hard part I had to unlearn many counterproductive habits I had acquired through ignorance and the lack of suitable teachers. Things have come a long way since then and there has never been a better time to take up the harmonica than right now. For one thing, the harmonica community itself has opened up and developed in ways that would have been unimaginable 20 years ago. Blues, country, folk, jazz, and classical players now coexist in an atmosphere of mutual respect and admiration.
You might be surprised at how much of a workout playing the harmonica is for your lips, tongue, and mouth muscles, not to mention your lungs and diaphragm. Blues Clues Try to practice the same time every day and the same days every week. For example, establish a routine in which practicing is the first thing you do when you get home every day, or something you do for an hour right before you go to bed.
Getting into a routine helps develop steady progress and prevents you from going backward. You should practice at least 45 to 60 minutes per day if you want to make any serious progress. This can be done in one long practice session, a series of focused to minute sessions, or a combination of both. The pace you are comfortable with. Unless you have an imminent gig or recording session, there is no reason you need to practice at any pace other than your own.
Obviously, you should go through the exercises and songs in the order they are presented. New techniques and skills are introduced along the way, and you need to become proficient at each of them before you move on to the next.
Spend 10 minutes or so on one thing, then 10 minutes or so on something else, and then go back to the first thing.
You should always work on three or four different areas simultaneously, and perhaps break them out into different practice sessions so that you can focus exclusively on the area at hand. This is one of the great things about the harmonica. It can always be within your reach.
Even a spare 10 minutes can be usefully and enjoyably utilized blowing on your harp. Trust us on this. This is a great way to perfect your technique and style and to learn the styles and techniques of the masters.
The harp is a versatile instrument, and you should embrace that versatility in your playing. This is one of the most important practice tips we can give you. It will give you the opportunity to evaluate your playing critically, which will greatly accelerate your progress.
Replay them again and again, listening closely to your technique, playing style, and sound. There is no substitute for playing live with other musicians. If you check at work, you might be surprised at how many of your colleagues have musical backgrounds and would enjoy the opportunity to play. You can put an ad in the music section of your local newspaper and check the postings at local music stores. Many great harpists have never had a lesson in their life. If nothing else, a skilled instructor can introduce you to some fresh ideas that will add diversity to your playing style.
Remember: The harp is the ultimate unstructured, free-style music instrument. What you play on the harp, more than on any other instrument, should be a pure reflection of your soul. Your goal is not to merely play the music. Your goal is to feel the music. Music should be an extension of your mood at the moment, and you should let your emotion flow freely through your harp.
Blues Clues Practice being spontaneous. Set your CD changer to random selection, load it up with CDs of different styles of music, and let it rip. This is great preparation for professional jam sessions, which can get pretty hot and fastpaced. You want to be able to keep up. It could even happen in as little as six months from when you get started. The harmonica world needs only so many masters.
Within six months from the date you downloadd this book, you could find yourself entertaining others with good quality music, playing professionally in a band if you want to, and generally having a good time with your music.
Author unknown. We just want you to note that the harmonica not only has survived several thousand years of human progression and occasional regression, but has migrated across different civilizations while constantly adapting itself to reflect prevailing musical tastes.
In this chapter, we sketch the history of the harmonica from its oriental origins to its place in the modern world of music. Then we explore its role in the development of early American music styles and examine why it was and still is the perfect instrument for the sounds and rhythms that exemplify the American music experience. Others contend that it was in fact Empress Nyu-kwa who deserves credit for inventing this instrument around B.
We strongly suspect that the sheng actually was invented for either of these royal personages by one of the Royal Eunuchs.
Whoever came up with the idea, the sheng was an immediate hit in the royal household and quickly spread throughout China and more distant areas of Asia. It then began to spread westward with the opening of trade routes and was being played by Turks and Persians by the sixth century. Harmonicology A free-reed instrument uses free-standing reeds to create different tones.
The reed is a strip of leather or metal that is attached at one end and free to vibrate at the other. The flow of air makes the free end vibrate. The length of the strip determines the tone: A longer reed produces a lower tone and, conversely, a shorter reed produces a higher tone. The sheng was one of the first free-reed instruments. Its reeds were fixed at one end and free to vibrate at the other.
The length of the reed determined the pitch of the tone. Modern day free-reed instruments include the harmonica, accordion, and concertina. Each of them has many different free-standing reeds of various lengths to create different pitches.
Compare them with a typical fixed-reed instrument, such as a clarinet or saxophone. With these instruments, the reed is fixed within, and vibrates against, a mouthpiece. There is only one reed in the instrument. The pitch of a note is determined by the length of the tube attached to the mouthpiece.
Different pitches are created by opening and closing holes in the tube. Much like its descendant the harmonica, the sheng was a highly expressive instrument that could be played with great versatility.
It could be mellow or shrill, and sheng players used many of the same techniques you will learn in this book: vibratos, bending, and trilling. Unlike the modern harmonica, however, the sheng plays the same notes on both inhale and exhale. Europe Adopts and Adapts the Free Reed Traders reputedly brought shengs back to Europe as early as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but a French missionary, Pere Amiot, is generally credited with getting the freereed ball rolling in Europe in the late s.
Numerous experiments were undertaken to create free-reed variants of the original sheng. If the truth be told, this instrument was much closer to the modern-day harmonica than any of the others: The player could both blow and draw to play different notes, and chords could be played due to the unique ordering of notes using the same concept still found on diatonic harmonicas today. Richter is still the namesake for the most common tuning for diatonic harmonicas today.
By the s, these free-reed instruments had become popular enough to be commercially produced in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Hohner was much more than an artisan; he was a very good businessman who soon controlled the harmonica trade in Europe. Yet the greatest contributing factor to his success was nothing so grand. It was the simple act of corresponding with relatives who had emigrated to America.
They convinced him to ship a box of harmonicas to them in the early s, and a harmonica empire was born. The harmonica quickly found a market in America and spread both west and south, where it found its true roots. The harmonica actually followed two divergent paths to popularity in American music, two paths that initially were defined by racial lines.
Eventually, any racial distinctions disappeared and the two paths to a large extent merged. Among the European immigrants and their descendants, the harmonica was adopted for new American folk music that was a combination of Old- and New- World sounds and rhythms. Much of the early American folk music was rooted in the popular music and dance tunes brought to America by European immigrants. Here, it was all mixed together into a melting pot of music, with a touch of American independence, freedom, and attitude added for flavor.
It was incorporated into American folk bands and, together with the fiddle and banjo, became a driving force at barn dances, saloons, weddings, festivals, and campfire sing-alongs. Harmonicology The straight harp is a style of playing the harmonica, also called the first position, in which the harmonica is played in the same music key as it is tuned to.
This style of playing consists primarily of blowing notes, as opposed to drawing, and is the dominant style of play for folk, bluegrass, and Celtic music. A more modern-day musician who exemplifies the straight harp style of play is Bob Dylan. Many notable characters from American folklore took up the harmonica to pass the time between gunfights and poker games or while lingering in jail cells.
Davey Crockett was said to have played the harmonica for the Alamo defenders it is unclear who survived to report this. They had brought from Africa many diverse styles of music characterized by intricate rhythms and notes not found in European music. Add their tradition of musical storytelling passed from generation to generation, and you have the birth of the blues.
The slaves also brought from Africa a hand-held mouth instrument called a quill that was able to produce the same style of falling tones as the human voice. As the harmonica spread to the South, they soon learned that similar falling tones could be produced on this new instrument.
This was one of the first steps in the development of the style of playing known as cross harp, which is the dominant style of play for modern blues and is also widely used in rock and country music.
Harmonicology The cross harp, or second position, is a style of playing the harmonica in which it is played in a key five notes higher than the key it is tuned to.
For example, a song in the key of G would be played on a C-tuned harmonica.
This position is also known as the bluesharp position. At the same time, every German soldier was being provided with a Kaiser Wilhelm model for Christmas. Harmonicas from Sea to Shining Sea Meanwhile, back in America, the popularity of the harmonica continued to grow and branch out into different areas of music. They started to spring up around the country in the early s, mostly as harmonica youth bands complete with uniforms in the style of marching bands.
As these young musicians matured, so did their venues. Harmonica bands became a staple of vaudeville and concert halls in the s, and their repertoires were incredibly diverse, spanning ethnic songs, pop tunes, jazz standards, and light classical pieces. The best known of these bands probably was Borrah Minevitch and the Harmonica Rascals, which was a popular fixture on stages around the country for 25 years.
At the same time, radio and movies were competing for the attention and dollars of audiences, and the harmonica quickly moved into these media. The other significant pre-war harmonica development was the emergence of the first harmonica soloists focusing on classical music.
This was made possible by the invention in by Hohner, of course of the chromatic harmonica. Unlike other harmonicas, which could play all 12 notes in the scale only by using techniques such as bending and overblowing, the chromatic harmonica could play all 12 notes through simply blowing and drawing and pushing a button on the side of the instrument to sharpen or flatten the notes.
This development opened up an entirely new world of music to harmonica players. The harmonica world was on a roll. With an embargo in effect, harpists now turned their attention to figuring out how to repair what had previously been considered throwaway instruments. In the process of learning how to fix their busted harmonicas, players began to learn how to improve and customize them.
New styles of music appeared on the scene, and the harmonica again proved its versatility in becoming an important element of these styles.
God put that on me to make me play. But the most important post-war event, as far as the harmonica was concerned, was conducted with much less fanfare. Suddenly, the harmonica took center stage on the Chicago blues scene.
This sound became the standard for blues harp playing and was a major contributing factor in catapulting blues music and blues harpists, such as James Cotton and Junior Wells, onto the national scene.
During this same period, the chromatic harmonica players continued to carve out a niche in the jazz and, to a lesser extent, classical arenas. Larry Adler was still the master of this scene in America right up until he was branded a communist and blacklisted during the dark period of the McCarthy hearings.
He left his native country and emigrated to the United Kingdom. Also in the early s, John Sebastion became the first harmonicist to focus exclusively on classical music. It was during this era that the harmonica once again captured the imagination of the American public, and sales soared. It seemed that, regardless of the style of music, the harp was a featured instrument. Almost every British band featured a harp player, and American bands, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, took up the instrument as well.
Today, approximately two million harmonicas are sold each year in the United States alone, with annual worldwide sales exceeding 10 million. There are estimated to be over 40 million people in the United States who have played the harmonica. Hohner itself has produced well over one billion harmonicas since its first year when its founder painstakingly built the first No matter how you slice it, the harmonica is the most popular instrument in the world. However, it also has an extremely strong presence in rock, country, bluegrass, and folk music, and a growing popularity in the world of jazz.
Although the harmonica bands have largely faded from the scene, there are plenty of old and new legends still blowing their harps.
It has established a museum in Trossingen, Germany that displays over 25, harmonicas. It has become the pre-eminent international organization promoting and supporting the harmonica, complete with quarterly newsletters and an annual convention.
On a final note, harpists finally seem to be making in-roads into the world of formal music education. City University of New York has become the first university to qualify the harmonica for credit toward a degree program.
This university is a short subway ride from The Juilliard School of Music, so who knows where this will lead. We help you choose your first harmonica and provide some useful information to guide you in future downloads. Most of your choices, however, will be based on personal preference. No one style or model is ideal for every person or every situation. As you progress, you should experiment with different types of harmonicas from different manufacturers and build your harp inventory based on your own playing style and preferences.
Decisions: Getting the Best download downloading a harmonica should involve much more than walking into a music store and selecting the one with the best-sounding name or best-looking case. Most of the following points refer to the diatonic harmonica, the first type to learn. Keys and Tunings Harmonicas are tuned to play different notes. The collection of notes available on a harmonica is usually identified as a key, such as the key of C-major.
Unfortunately, it gets much more complex than this. We thoroughly explain what set of notes each scale type refers to in Chapter Then there are the specialized tunings of tremolo, octave, chord, and bass harmonicas.
The point is this: You need to know exactly what style of harmonica and tuning you want before you download. Musical Style Do you want to play blues, rock, country, bluegrass, folk, Celtic, or something else?
For the first three, you tend to play in cross harp, so you would download a harp that produces a full fat tone and is built for strong bends and overblowing. For the latter three, you would likely play in straight harp, so you might prefer a brighter, cleaner sound.
Blues Clues Although all diatonic harps are designed similarly, subtle differences affect their sound: materials used for reed and reed plate, comb material and size, hole and chamber size, and reed size and thickness.
Metal combs tend to produce a bright tone.
Harps with large holes and chambers play louder. The larger the reed surface area, the louder and more responsively the harp plays. The thinner the reed plate, the easier it is to bend notes.
In other words, you can achieve a good tone on any harmonica excluding the really cheap models if you use good technique and work at it. Some harmonicas come with different scales like minor scales and scales made for playing in more than one key. Bottom Line: Start with a diatonic harmonica, preferably in the key of C as this is the easiest key to understand. Here are some pictures of each type. Hohner is the one you hear about most, as it is the most common.
However, that does not make it the best. Hohner produces lots of different harmonicas, some good and some not so good. Be sure to explore a range of harmonica brands. For a beginner, I would personally recommend Lee Oskar. They are very easy to play and sound great. But I'm not saying that's all you can use, there are definitely other equally good harmonicas. Take a look at this chart for more info on good harmonicas for beginners.
If you were to blow into the holes of a harmonica, one by one from left to right, you would hear the 1, 3, and 5 notes of a major chord C, E, G in the key of C repeated repeated three times as well as one high C at the end. Alone, this won't do you much good, as it's only one chord. That's why playing the harmonica involves a combination of inhaling and exhaling also called blowing and drawing. If you blow into hole 4 on a C harmonica, you'll hear a C. Now inhale——the note moves up to a D.
Blow into the next hole and it's an E. Inhale, F. Blowing into hole 6 produces a G, and inhaling makes an A. At this point you can probably guess what come next if you blow into hole 7: If you blow into hole 7, you will hear a C. You have to inhale to produce the B. As you can see, there isn't a set pattern to the blows and draws of a harmonica. The three main oddities are holes 2, 7, and In holes , the pattern mentioned above is changed so inhaling moves the note down instead of up.
Sound confusing? It is. The diagram above should make things much clearer. And now comes a problem that many beginning harmonica players encounter. You look at the chart on the previous step, say, "That seems easy enough," blow into your harmonica, and three notes come out.
Here's how to just play one note. There are two main methods: Pucker method: To play like this, start with your lips relaxed. If you exhale or inhale, you will hear multiple notes. Now push your lips outward, almost as if you were trying to kiss someone. Experiment until you can get a single, clear note. Now stay like that. It may be helpful to think of your lips as being over or around the harmonica, rather than just on it.
If you take away the harmonica and you look utterly ridiculous, you're doing it right. This may seem hard at first, but once you get the hang of it which shouldn't take long , it's a very effective method.
Tongue method: Relax your mouth so it is covering multiple holes, then cover the ones you don't want with your tongue. This technique is often used to "split" notes, allowing you to play two notes that aren't directly next to each other by putting your tongue in between them. Which method you use is totally up to you. Here are some beginning harmonica tabs from Dave Gage's website.
B means blow, D means draw. Bending is something that's hard to get at first, but easy to do once you get it. However, this is not exactly a beginner technique. Make sure you can do everything mentioned previously, especially playing single notes, before you attempt bends. Bending is used to change the pitch of a note.
While inhaling or exhaling, you change the shape of your mouth, changing the speed at which the reed is vibrating and the pitch of the note that plays. Bends are primarily used when playing blues harmonica. The most common bends are draw bends, especially on the lower notes. However, there are also blow bends, overblows, and overdraws. Now to the actual technique. Bending is very hard to explain in words, so I will quote from some online tutorials.
Be sure to check out this site for detailed instructions on how to bend each hole and some very nice animations.
Playing "bends" using the TILT Method Start with the 4 draw you can pick any note to start with but the general consensus seems to be that 4 draw is easiest. Remember that you must change the angle of the airflow over the reed to "bend" the note. So let's cheat a little bit and alter the angle of the harmonica rather than alter the airflow angle by changing your mouth, tongue, and throat. Hold the harmonica by the ends and then while playing a clean 4 draw.
Tilt the back of the harmonica up towards your nose. Make sure that when you tilt the harmonica up that you continue to draw the air through the harmonica though you hadn't tilted it up.
You must change the angle of airflow across the reed to make the note bend. This trick of physically tilting the harmonica up, will create the same change of angle that you must eventually learn to do with your mouth, tongue, and embouchure. If the harmonica pops out of your mouth, start over and make sure you have the harmonica placed far enough into your mouth so that it won't pop out.
The reed in each hole requires a different angle to achieve a bend. Generally speaking these angles look like this: Hole 4 draw takes about a 45 degree change of airflow angle. Hole 2 draw takes almost a 75 to 90 degree change of airflow angle to get it to bend down a whole step.
Hole 3 draw takes an angle somewhere in between 45 and 90 degrees. Experiment with the tilting technique until you get a change in pitch. When you start getting a "bend" stay with it until you can make a noticeable change in pitch. If you just can't seem to get 4 draw to "bend" If one practice session doesn't yield any "bends", call it a day and come back tomorrow.
But whatever you do, don't give up. Playing "bends" Without Tilting the Harmonica recommended After you have reached the point of being able to get "bends" using the tilting method, its time to start learning how to get the same sound without tilting.
Tilting is OK to get the idea of "bends", but you won't be able to play very many songs if you're constantly tilting the harmonica around. You now must learn to change the shape of your mouth and tongue to simulate the same change in airflow that you got by tilting the harmonica. This is the most difficult harmoinca technique to describe in words and different people describe the same process differently but here goes.
Don't draw too hard or you will move past "draw bend" to "overdraw bend".
There you have it. Below is a diagram of which notes can and can't be bent. Your harmonica might have more than one key printed on it. On one side it probably says C, but on the other side, it might say G. Which key is it in? Your harmonica is technically in C, but you can play a different type of scale in the key of G.
The natural position of the harmonica in this case, the key of C is called first position or straight harp. Second position, or cross harp, is the key a fifth up from first position G. Why use different positions? Two reasons. First, they allow you to play in multiple keys on one harmonica. Second, it allows you two play scales other than the standard major scale. For example, if I wanted to play a blues scale in C, I would use a harmonica in the key of F.
Each position is a fifth up from the next. You will rarely use anything beyond fifth position, and you will usually stick to 1, 2, and 4.
Second position, as mentioned earlier, is in the key of G. It is primarily used for blues harmonica. To play a blues scale, use this tablature: Third position is a fifth up from second position. On a C harmonica, it would be in the key of D. You can use third position to play a blues scale or a Dorian minor scale which is almost a minor scale and can be used to play a lot of minor things.