Monday, May 26, 2014

Harmonicas - first impressions

Like the Melodica, until recently this was an instrument I knew nothing about. I was totally ignorant. I even had for years 2 very good Hohner harmonicas sitting in my room which I hardly touched.

So, as summer is here and there is a little time on hand I started exploring. In short here are some of the things I found out:

1. It's not that easy to play! It took me a long time to even get a proper single note without spilling sound from the next hole. The first hours I practiced were so dire my girlfriend asked me to stop.

2. Don't buy cheap harmonicas. It's just a waste of time and will add to the time it takes you to learn. I bought a Hohner Silver Star locally and even after a month or so playing, and my limited knowledge I've decided to give it away.

3. Good Harmonicas are not that expensive. I have now a Hohner special 20 and a Hohner Blues Harp both which cost me less than 20 pounds in India.

4. You can bend notes on the 10 hole diatonic harmonica to achieve further notes. Ok, this sounds obvious but I had no clue what this really meant. This adds to the range of the instrument considerably. It is also what gives the harmonica it's bluesy flavour.

5. In the hands of a good player you can play almost anything on the diatonic harmonica. I will post links later but there are some extraordinary players out there young and old.

6. With skill, certain notes can be overblown or bend upwards. This again adds to a further range of notes not originally thought possible.

7. You can fit this instrument in you pocket and play anytime you feel. How good is that!

8. When you play the blues on the harmonica you play what is known as crossharp. If you are playing a harmonica in the key of C you use it to play blues in G. This is also known as second position and basically you are playing the instrument in a different key that it is intended.

9. If you want to start playing right away and your not sure what to buy go for a Hohner special 20. Thousands of top musicians swear by them and they are not expensive. Buy a key of C because alot of books and videos online use this tonality.

I'm going to post more on this topic as I advance. This is just a bit of fun. I will never be a full time harmonica player but I already love this instrument and maybe this post can help ignorant people like me get the most from it.

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