So I'm learning to play the Harmonica...

Discussion in 'The Clubhouse Bar' started by RC, Oct 30, 2008.

  1. RC

    RC Guest

    In the past few days, as a spur of the moment decision, i picked up myself a Harmonica.
    I've no idea why i just like the idea of an instrument you can keep in your pocket and just pull out and play at a random moment. I know i won't just pull it out and play when i'm, for example, on lunch at work, or walking down the street, but i've been wanting to play a new instrument for a long time and at £5.95 i couldn't aruge.

    But i need help. I've looked around on websites for good beginners instructions but i can't find anything that good.
    So i was wondering if there are any harmonica players out there that could give me a heads up as to the route they took when they first started playing. I'm not prepared to get a teacher because i taught myself to play guitar and i'll teach myself to play the harmonica as well.
    But did you guys pick up a book or did you venture around online?
    I just want to know what was good and what worked for you.
    (I'm looking at Gay Guy in particualr knowing he is a harmonica genius of sorts!)

    Cheers in advance!
     
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  3. Bullitt

    Bullitt Guest

    The Harmonica is a piece of ****. Move it to your left for a high note, move it right for a low note... Easy!

    The real are is perfecting the circular breathing (something I never managed) and controlling the volume of the damn thing to not drown out any accompaniment or take it out of pitch (again, i never quite managed).

    Try this lot;
    http://www.davegage.com/tips.html

    I taught myself how to play it when I was 7 and still have the same on (a rather dishy looking Hohner model). I'll rocky-theme-tune you into next Sunday!
     
  4. Fa'atau82

    Fa'atau82 Guest

    What people really mean: Psychology 101

    - I've no idea why i just like the idea of an instrument you can keep in your pocket and just pull out and play at a random moment.
    I am prone to randomly whipping out my wang in public. Sure, people look a bit funny at me, but hey, i can play this thing and make a tune, so why not?

    - I know i won't just pull it out and play when i'm, for example, on lunch at work, or walking down the street, but i've been wanting to play a new instrument for a long time and at £5.95 i couldn't argue.

    I have been banned from the canteen and local parade of shops, so instead i just got a 2nd hand dildo from the jumble sale, £5.95, unbelievable bargain!
     
  5. bates

    bates Guest

    If I'm not mistaken Gay guy is a talentfull harmonica player, aks him for some usefull tips
     
  6. Gay-Guy

    Gay-Guy Guest

    Ok well I will give you a few tips to get started.

    Buy a "Lee Oscar" harmonica.  Undeniably the best harp in the world.

    Good key to start in is "C".  Even though it says C on the box it will say something else on the actual instrument to show what guitar cord you can jam with.  C is mid range....so you get a good feel of low notes for lower keys and high notes for higher keys.  Personally I prefer "E"...but I worked slowly to that key....for years my favourite was D.

    I play the harmonica upside down (Jimmy Hendrix wannabe lol!).  So the low notes are to my right and the high notes to my left.  This is easier for my brain to grasp....not sure if it makes the sound of the harmonica any different having the reeds upside down from their original design.  You have to choose what suits you best.

    Now what you want to learn first....is how to DRAW (suck) a SINGLE note.  How do you do this when the holes are so small and tightly packed together????

    First thing you need to know.....it has nothing to do with the tongue....or the lips.  Playing a single note is all about focusing air flow into a small air channel.  A bit like how whistling uses the lips to focus air flow...except you are trying to focus air flow WITHOUT help from the lips.

    The way to achieve this is to put your mouth over the harmonica loosely.  You can now either suck or blow.  You will get a lot of notes all at once.  Now while you are sucking use your lips to push the harmonica away from you....very much like passionate kissing (yes playing the harmonica does tone your mouth and you will be a firmer kisser but don't tell anyone this....it is a harmonica players secret).  Another way to imagine this pushing out technique is that it is similar to when a women is trying to push you out using her vaginal muscles....it is this very same thing technique that you use with your mouth.  Anyway you will notice a CHANGE in the sound of the harmonica when you push the harmonica out.  The notes will slowly change from multiple notes to....A SINGLE NOTE!  Hold that note and that position...you have now mastered the biggest reason why so many people do not play the harmonica.

    Alternatively another way to learn to play a SINGLE note (and the way I was taught) is to put the harmonica in your mouth and then aim the back of the harmonica up to the sky.  Then try and focus the air flow as you suck from the bottom of your mouth.

    Anyway...once you get the hang of making a single note...well.....blow and draw in the same hole a few times....get the feel of it.  The experiment doing the same thing in other holes.  You will find that each hole has a characteristic of its own...it is not just a note...the holes all "bend" differently.  Even though different harmonicas have different keys the same notes for each key do the same thing.

    If you want to be clever try and blow and draw in different holes all over the place.  You may even create your first "riff".

    Now we want to make your notes sound more professional and deliberate....particularly the draw (suck) notes.  So instead of just sucking or blowing normally....say the "do" word when you suck (without actually saying it with your vocal chords.  This makes a note "distinctive"....very much like a guitarist picking his notes as opposed to just flicking them.

    Once you have mastered this....say "doowaaah" without using your vocal chords as you suck.  When you look in the mirror and say the word "doowaaah" you will see that your jaw drops with the "waaah" syllable.  Do this same technique when you suck in a note.  You are now making the equivalent sound of the waaawaa pedal that guitarists use.  You have also entered the world of the blues harmonica.  Welcome:)

    It is here with Blues harmonica styles that I began my apprenticeship.  It is with this genre that I recommend you start yours.  Having blues as your base style gives you more of a rhythm style to your riffs...a bit like how a guitarist like Slash would be...as opposed to a metal guitarist froma classical background.  Learning various blues riff for your foundation riffs would also make you a cross harp player (predominantly draw notes) as opposed to a straight harp player (predominantly blow notes - country, folk, etc).  Blues also has an easy chord structure to follow (3 chords) which will be good when you learn to jam for the first time.  Like Slash the guitarist I moved away from Blues a long time ago but it did create the foundation of my riffs.

    Anyway the first song you should use to get started is called "White Boy Lost in the Blues" by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.  This has been seen as the foundation song for the modern harmonica player as it has the late great legend Sonny Terry (Harmonica player) playing HIS foundation riff as the first solo.  THIS FOUNDATION RIFF IS WHAT YOU MUST LEARN!  It is a simple solo and has an up riff and a down riff in it.  This riff is where you begin to add things on, explore, etc, when you create your own riffs.  However you cannot create your own riffs let alone jam until you learn this.  There is also a small harmonica piece right at the beginning of the song which you can learn as well.  I am sure the harmonica to buy for this song is an A...but it might be a C come to think of it.

    Anyway that is all to get you started and should keep you busy for 6 months.  After this I will show you what next to do...it is a great journey and you will discover INDEPTH the world of Blues music and the lives of the musicians who formed it.  You are not just learning an instrument...you are learning music history as well.  It is a great world and the competent harmonica player is seen by many people as someone who has learnt something that is very difficult to master....not the norm type of musician.
     
  7. bates

    bates Guest

    I'm also getting in the mood to start playing it :D

    I know it will take my a lot of time, effort, etc... but it's worth a try
     
  8. Fa'atau82

    Fa'atau82 Guest

    Great in-depth Harmonica tips there!

    But..

    Psychology 101 returns with:

    - Another way to imagine this pushing out technique is that it is similar to when a women is trying to push you out using her vaginal muscles... it is this very same thing technique that you use with your mouth.

    I have a girlfriend who can play the harmonica with her vagina. Unusual talent, but it only came second on the TV talent show.

    Anyway you will notice a CHANGE in the sound of the harmonica when you push the harmonica out. The notes will slowly change from multiple notes to....A SINGLE NOTE! Hold that note and that position...you have now mastered the biggest reason why so many people do not play the harmonica.

    - What i didn't know is that this vagina-harmonica foreplay is very arousing for her and i found that she went suddenly from gentle moaning to a neat and satisfactory climax moan very quickly, but only if you do it right. Although to be fair, after she used it to pleasure herself a few times, it smells a bit funny now and i don't fancy playing playing it again. But, on the plus side, she did get a round of applause from the inlaws at the dinner party.
     
  9. bates

    bates Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Gay-Guy @ Oct 31 2008, 06:45 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>

    Which model do you recommand for a beginner?

    In Belgium they cost around 60 NZ$
     
  10. RC

    RC Guest

    :eek:

    I've no idea what to say.
    As i was reading this i was also trying out everything you were typing and it was working. The whole pusing the harmonica away to make a single chord, but i've still got to work on the "dooo" before going on for my "doowah", but like you said, all this will take me about 6 months.
    I've been looking around on youtube and annoyingly i've stumbled across Yuri Lane, not sure i you've heard of him, but he plays the harmonica and beat boxes at the same time.
    It's f***ing amazing, but i'm not gonna try that just yet. Lol.
    Well, all i can say is a huge thank you and let you know how i'm getting on throughout my time with my new instrument.

    Oh, 2 +reps coming at ya as well.
     
  11. Gay-Guy

    Gay-Guy Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (amobokobokoboko @ Oct 31 2008, 09:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>

    Which model do you recommand for a beginner?

    In Belgium they cost around 60 NZ$
    [/b][/quote]

    I would recommend Lee Oscar for all levels. The best harmonica to play and the easiest! So smooth....lots of volume...doesn't rust, easy sliding of the lips...a real Gibson of the harminica world. Very easy to play fast notes.

    $60 NZ for one is the right price around the world. There are $10 harmonicas...but they are soooo hard to play...you got to really suck and blow hard to get a decent volume and as a result you cannot play at speed. It is like trying to play the guitar solo "Eruption" (Eddie Van Halen) with a wide neck acoutic guitar....you can do it but it takes a lot more effort for a pro but a beginner will just give up.

    The brand that has been used through the last century is Hohner...but none of their harmonicas can play at the speed of a Lee Oscar. A lee Oscar harmonica is loud with little effort. Lee Oscar plates (inside the harmonica) are also interchangeable so that if you wear one out and stuff a reed (done by heaps and heaps of bending of a note) you can just buy another plate rather than the whole harmonica. The Lee Oscar range of harmonicas also have harps in minor keys for songs which are played in the minors, something which other brands don't do. They also have a harp which is called the Melody Boy which has some notes changed yet again though I am not sure if they get changed to minors or whatever.
     
  12. Gay-Guy

    Gay-Guy Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (RC @ Nov 1 2008, 11:36 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    My opinion of who is the best harmonica player is Jimmy Z....because he plays ONE damn riff which I never learnt...it is his trademark....it is a simple riff...but he plays it at a phenomenal speed...like an IMPOSSIBLE phenomenal speed. I have SLOWED down the video of this riff and listened very closely to see if he does the same old cheats which all us harmonica guys do when we want to impress with speed...BUT HE DOES NOT! I have heard a few guys almost play the same riff at speed like Bruce Willis (Yes I did say Bruce Willis the actor) but in fairness it is not quite the same one or the same speed as Jimmy Z. This riff that Jimmy Z does would only be recognised by the top players in the world and most people would think "I have heard other guys play fast as well" and not see what it is...but trust me....it is pretty much impossible for the top players in the world to play.

    I have not actually bothered to learn anything new over the last 17 years because I thought I was at the top of my game and at a world class level. Though it always bugged me that I never learnt the Jimmy Z elusive riff...the "holy grail" riff that sets him apart. It this talk about Harmonicas has made me rethink about taking it up again and spending a year trying to get it. It is the one riff that the makes the top players realise they are beaten.

    Another good player is Federick Yonnet...though again everything that he does even though it looks flashy is quite playable...nothing he does is beyond reach.

    If we had to move to the world of Chromatic Harmonicas then Stevie Wonder is one of the more beautiful players in the world. He plays the solos on Eurthymics recording "Must be I'm talking to an Angel" and Elton Johns "I guess thats why they call it the Blues"....absolutely beautiful chromatic solos. The chromatic has more notes on it and can play better solos...but they seriously lack power or any real volume or conviction. It is another "different" discipline altogether...I never learnt how to play one properly.
     
  13. Gay-Guy

    Gay-Guy Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (St Helens RLFC @ Nov 1 2008, 11:36 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div> Lol Alanis Morrisette lol all these big singers who embaress the instrument when they think they can play BUT the SUCK! Remember Bono trying to play on that song "Desire"? What an insult to the instrument lol!
     
  14. I only remember that song because I'm doing a powerpoint presentation for my Year 8's now. They're 12 now, I was 12 in 1996 so I'm showing them what the music was like when I was their age.
     
  15. Gay-Guy

    Gay-Guy Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (RC @ Nov 1 2008, 11:36 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    Ummm...hate to disappoint you but...its not amazing really. He is just a beatboxer that happened to stick a harmonica in his mouth. He doesn't know how to play...or play notes...or proper riffs. Due to the ignorance of the public he probably sounds like some amazing out there Harmonica player. The stuff he does with the instrument outside of the beatboxing you will be able to do it quite easily in time. He is quite on to it by finding a niche in the beat box market...though a guy came to our school ealier this year doing the same thing.

    Sometimes when I play at top speed I accidentally make small vocal sounds on blow notes as I am hurling the note out quite forcefully and at speed....very much like you do a "hhh" sound when you go in hard with a tackle trying to force the big hit on impact.

    Good thinking outside the box by Yuri though:)
     
  16. Gay-Guy

    Gay-Guy Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (St Helens RLFC @ Nov 1 2008, 12:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    Yeah I do that with my class...poor kids listening to ancient music lol!
     
  17. bates

    bates Guest

    I ordered a C one.

    So I vcan practise 2 months at home ans take it with me to NZ for 2 months. Intense practice :D
     
  18. The appeal of learning to play an instrument has never hit me.
     
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