Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

All instruments that aren't guitars (or bass guitars).
User avatar
JSett
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 8917
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:33 pm
Location: Old Hampshire, Old England

Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by JSett » Thu Feb 22, 2024 8:08 am

I was gifted a Hohner Special 20 for Christmas just passed and have been gradually chipping away at learning it. They know I play in a flat key and asked what one so I guessed at F# Country scale as that what I tend to play when Harmonica would be most suited.

I have had my Grandfathers old Koch for 20-25 years but it barely works and likely needs a service (or whatever you can do to these to make them run well) so never really got to try it properly.

It's been fun so far but I'm mostly just doing random melodies over simple chord progressions. I need to sit and learn properly - thankfully it's 2024 and we have YouTube :D

Here's a particularly average go at it just now

Anyone else here play?

Image
Silly Rabbit, don't you know scooped mids are for kids?

User avatar
Sweetfinger
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 460
Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:23 pm

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by Sweetfinger » Thu Feb 22, 2024 7:28 pm

F# country tuned is an oddball harp. I could ask the next 20 pro harp players I see if they have one and I'd bet none would and most wouldn't even be carrying a standard tuned F#. In your video, you're playing "straight harp", in the key printed on the harmonica. It's Bob Dylan-ish. For the majority of blues, rock, and country, you need to play in "cross-harp",
EDITED:
with the harmonica key a fourth up from what you're playing in. Try that same sort of chord progression, only in the key of C# (in your case, as if you are in D). Your tonic note will be draw on hole 2.
Last edited by Sweetfinger on Sat Feb 24, 2024 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
marqueemoon
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 7395
Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:37 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by marqueemoon » Thu Feb 22, 2024 7:59 pm

Sweetfinger wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2024 7:28 pm
F# country tuned is an oddball harp. I could ask the next 20 pro harp players I see if they have one and I'd bet none would and most wouldn't even be carrying a standard tuned F#. In your video, you're playing "straight harp", in the key printed on the harmonica. It's Bob Dylan-ish. For the majority of blues, rock, and country, you need to play in "cross-harp", in the key a fourth up from what is labeled on the harp. Try that same sort of chord progression, only in the key of B (in your case, as if you are in C). Your tonic note will be draw on hole 2.
Wow. I clicked on this topic out of curiosity because I unearthed 2 harmonicas digging through a box of old stuff over the weekend.

I had no idea.

I’ve been listening to The The’s Slow Emotion Replay a bunch recently. I know Johnny Marr is a fairly mediocre harmonica player compared to some people, but if I could do that sort of thing I’d be happy.

User avatar
JSett
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 8917
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:33 pm
Location: Old Hampshire, Old England

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by JSett » Thu Feb 22, 2024 10:05 pm

Sweetfinger wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2024 7:28 pm
F# country tuned is an oddball harp. I could ask the next 20 pro harp players I see if they have one and I'd bet none would and most wouldn't even be carrying a standard tuned F#. In your video, you're playing "straight harp", in the key printed on the harmonica. It's Bob Dylan-ish. For the majority of blues, rock, and country, you need to play in "cross-harp", in the key a fourth up from what is labeled on the harp. Try that same sort of chord progression, only in the key of B (in your case, as if you are in C). Your tonic note will be draw on hole 2.
Ah, okay. I'll be honest, I know absolutely nothing about harp and just picked a guitar key that matched what was said on the harp. As for the Dylan-ish ness, well yeah, that's definitely the vibe in my head so it makes sense.

I don't really play much blues style guitar, even if that chord progression is a I IV V, so didn't consider Cross Harp (I've only read about it). I grew up surrounded by English, Irish and Scottish folk so tend to gravitate towards that. It would be cool to play some blues as well, and probably more useful if I want to do anything with it. I don't know any musical theory though so it'll all be done by feel really.

Good to know though, I plan on getting a couple more in different keys anyway. Thanks for the pointers :)
Last edited by JSett on Thu Feb 22, 2024 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Silly Rabbit, don't you know scooped mids are for kids?

User avatar
sal paradise
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 3648
Joined: Thu May 27, 2021 12:41 am

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by sal paradise » Thu Feb 22, 2024 10:24 pm

This is cool Johnny.

Also, matching harmonica key to your punk rock guitar tuning ;D
I have nothing to offer anybody, except my own confusion?

User avatar
JSett
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 8917
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:33 pm
Location: Old Hampshire, Old England

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by JSett » Thu Feb 22, 2024 11:13 pm

sal paradise wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2024 10:24 pm
This is cool Johnny.

Also, matching harmonica key to your punk rock guitar tuning ;D
Thanks Matt. To be honest, most of the punk I write is just sped up folk music really :D plus 50% of my output never makes it too the band because it's too folk/country. Harmonica seemed a good fit to learn... And it's a bit more portable if I go away and want to be creative
Silly Rabbit, don't you know scooped mids are for kids?

User avatar
UlricvonCatalyst
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 7193
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:05 am
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:04 am

I love playing harmonica - v. much in the Bob Dylan/Neil Young style - but since moving house a couple of years ago I haven't been able to find any of them, which is a bummer as I have them in C, G, D, A, and E. I also have my Dad's old Hohner Chromonicas and tremolo-style 'moothies', but I can't do much with those. For what it's worth, Hohner Marine Band is my mouth organ of choice.

User avatar
sal paradise
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 3648
Joined: Thu May 27, 2021 12:41 am

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by sal paradise » Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:12 am

JSett wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2024 11:13 pm
sal paradise wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2024 10:24 pm
This is cool Johnny.

Also, matching harmonica key to your punk rock guitar tuning ;D
Thanks Matt. To be honest, most of the punk I write is just sped up folk music really :D plus 50% of my output never makes it too the band because it's too folk/country. Harmonica seemed a good fit to learn... And it's a bit more portable if I go away and want to be creative
I’ll have to leave one of my guitars tuned down then for 2030, when we start doing our weekly ‘old dudes, freaky blues’ open mic night, washed down with a pint or two of Bishops Finger .*

*I haven’t told you about our new band yet, but you’ll love it. Trust me.
I have nothing to offer anybody, except my own confusion?

User avatar
JSett
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 8917
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:33 pm
Location: Old Hampshire, Old England

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by JSett » Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:22 am

UlricvonCatalyst wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:04 am
I love playing harmonica - v. much in the Bob Dylan/Neil Young style - but since moving house a couple of years ago I haven't been able to find any of them, which is a bummer as I have them in C, G, D, A, and E. I also have my Dad's old Hohner Chromonicas and tremolo-style 'moothies', but I can't do much with those. For what it's worth, Hohner Marine Band is my mouth organ of choice.
I saw the Marine Band ones and they do look interesting. Maybe I should gradually pick up a few. One thing I like is that almost every regular harp is only £30-40 for a known brand. This makes them easy to pick up with a little spare cash here and there (and now my pedal habit has waned, that sort of disposable income can be channelled elsewhere).

Are you self taught or took some lessons?
Last edited by JSett on Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
Silly Rabbit, don't you know scooped mids are for kids?

User avatar
JSett
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 8917
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:33 pm
Location: Old Hampshire, Old England

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by JSett » Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:23 am

sal paradise wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:12 am

I’ll have to leave one of my guitars tuned down then for 2030, when we start doing our weekly ‘old dudes, freaky blues’ open mic night, washed down with a pint or two of Bishops Finger .*

*I haven’t told you about our new band yet, but you’ll love it. Trust me.
Bishops Finger *shudders*
Silly Rabbit, don't you know scooped mids are for kids?

User avatar
UlricvonCatalyst
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 7193
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:05 am
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:59 am

JSett wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:22 am
I saw the Marine Band ones and they do look interesting. Maybe I should gradually pick up a few. One thing I like is that almost every regular harp is only £30-40 for a known brand. This makes them easy to pick up with a little spare cash here and there (and now my pedal habit has waned, that sort of disposable income can be channelled elsewhere).

Are you self taught or took some lessons?
I just got myself one of those neck harnesses and started playing....not very well at first, but keeping on doing it can bring rapid improvement. The first challenge to set yourself is to be able to play individual notes cleanly - as you know there's a lot of overlap, which can sound fine, but melody lines have their own appeal.

I mostly play in the 'standard' style - i.e. not cross harp - but at one point I taught myself "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" which is very much in the 'suck and use a harmonica the wrong key' style (as far as I remember). I generally just play(ed) harmonica for fun, as others do with the ukulele, but I've used it on recordings too, and even wrote a song with a harmonica refrain.

User avatar
JSett
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 8917
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:33 pm
Location: Old Hampshire, Old England

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by JSett » Fri Feb 23, 2024 1:11 am

UlricvonCatalyst wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:59 am
I just got myself one of those neck harnesses and started playing....not very well at first, but keeping on doing it can bring rapid improvement. The first challenge to set yourself is to be able to play individual notes cleanly - as you know there's a lot of overlap, which can sound fine, but melody lines have their own appeal.

I mostly play in the 'standard' style - i.e. not cross harp - but at one point I taught myself "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" which is very much in the 'suck and use a harmonica the wrong key' style (as far as I remember). I generally just play(ed) harmonica for fun, as others do with the ukulele, but I've used it on recordings too, and even wrote a song with a harmonica refrain.
Yeah, single notes are definitely tricky. I need to sit and commit a day to watching some YouTube tutorials and picking up some better tips.

I'll order a couple of regular (non weird country scale) ones and see how I get on.
Silly Rabbit, don't you know scooped mids are for kids?

User avatar
MechaBulletBill
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 2821
Joined: Sat Nov 09, 2013 8:16 am
Location: UK

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by MechaBulletBill » Fri Feb 23, 2024 1:55 am

when i concentrate i can get single notes cleanly. it's the bent notes to get the proper crossharp scale i can never do.

User avatar
Nudger
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 902
Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:10 am
Location: England

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by Nudger » Fri Feb 23, 2024 2:08 am

JSett wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2024 10:05 pm
Sweetfinger wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2024 7:28 pm
F# country tuned is an oddball harp. I could ask the next 20 pro harp players I see if they have one and I'd bet none would and most wouldn't even be carrying a standard tuned F#. In your video, you're playing "straight harp", in the key printed on the harmonica. It's Bob Dylan-ish. For the majority of blues, rock, and country, you need to play in "cross-harp", in the key a fourth up from what is labeled on the harp. Try that same sort of chord progression, only in the key of B (in your case, as if you are in C). Your tonic note will be draw on hole 2.
It would be cool to play some blues as well, and probably more useful if I want to do anything with it. I don't know any musical theory though so it'll all be done by feel really.
Some brands match key for you.
Image

As for playing tips "blues" , Bending notes is the thing.
I read a book that came with a harp millions of years ago.. This is bassicaly how it went.

Isolate one note/hole
Draw in breath as if you were saying YOYO.
Try to control the YOYO.
Gradually you will be able to draw the YOYO out ,,, YYOOO YYOOO

Bosh! Youre bending notes, no more souding like popeye.

Ive explained this method in person to mates and they usualy get it within a hour.

User avatar
SuperAxe
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 292
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:46 am
Contact:

Re: Who plays the Harmonica / Harp?

Post by SuperAxe » Sat Feb 24, 2024 3:31 pm

Sweetfinger wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2024 7:28 pm
F# country tuned is an oddball harp. I could ask the next 20 pro harp players I see if they have one and I'd bet none would and most wouldn't even be carrying a standard tuned F#. In your video, you're playing "straight harp", in the key printed on the harmonica. It's Bob Dylan-ish. For the majority of blues, rock, and country, you need to play in "cross-harp", in the key a fourth up from what is labeled on the harp. Try that same sort of chord progression, only in the key of B (in your case, as if you are in C). Your tonic note will be draw on hole 2.
You confuse me here.... I thought if he wants to play the F# harp as a cross harp, the key he needs to play guitar is the 4th down (not up) which makes it C#

Post Reply