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The Harp Reference: Embouchure

Embouchures The embouchure (ahm’ ba sure) is the method of applying the lips and tongue to the mouthpiece of a wind instrument, like the harmonica! If you are just learning to play I recommend you start with the Lip Block. 1) Lip Block – A variant of the pucker (see below), it’s also called lipping. Tilt the harp up at the back about […]

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The Harp Reference: Bending Tips

Bending Tips Bending is a basic diatonic harmonica playing technique used to produce notes not otherwise available in the basic tuning of the harp, and they are also used to provide various sliding-note effects.  Bends are, in large part, what give the diatonic harp its unique character, and are intimately related to the blues tradition. […]

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The Diatonic Harp Reference: Speed

SpeeD Speed, in music, means playing fast in a musical context.  Not just playing fast.  Playing in a musical context means staying coherent with the rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic content of the piece.  If you play fast but ignore the musical elements, then you are just playing fast, but not using speed.  Speed implies control.  A child can pick up the […]

How to Play Blues Harmonica?
The Harp Reference: Jamming Over Chords
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The Harp Reference: Jamming Over Chords

Improvising Over Chords Improvising Over Chords I think of the notes of resolution, and emphasis, and relationships changing with the chord progression.  What I mean is, when soloing during a I chord, I’ll emphasize notes that are in the (e.g. blues) scale of the I chord–and more than that, I’ll lean a bit harder on the notes […]

Notation Convention for Tablature
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Notation Convention for Tablature

Tab is short for tablature and is the term you’ll usually see. Tab is a shortcut notation that indicates how to play which hole on the harmonica.  This is different from standard musical notation, which indicates what note to play, including its relative duration.  The difference is between how to play a hole and whatnote to play.  How to play a note on the harmonica is specified by several […]

The Diatonic Harp Reference: Improvising Using Rhythm
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The Diatonic Harp Reference: Improvising Using Rhythm

Improvising Using Rhythm Here’s a way to add a sense of structure and cohesiveness and “composition” to your improvised playing. The focus is on the rhythmic pattern of a phrase (or riff or lick or whatever structural component of a solo or song you want). The idea is to repeat that rhythmic pattern over different notes in different places in the […]