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Forum Contributor 2017
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have decided to start re-learning harp to make myself more available for gigs with bands who don't use sax.

Haven't played in nearly 30 years but asking where to start and how does it different from sax playing.

Peace
 

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Tried it a long time ago, have wrong tongue: won't shape into a U.
Genetic anomaly.
Bending pitch down on harp is done by blowing harder, blowing harder on sax without adjusting embouchure makes it sharp.
Vibrato on harp is like flute: amplitude modulation, on sax frequency modulation.
Articulation is similar.
I play melodica which is a keyed harmonica.
It's hard to bend notes but can be tongued.
Vibrato like flute.
 

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I bought a chromatic harmonica this summer, and i am just learning. As for blowing techniques i practice the pucker and tongue blocking embouchures.
Just working on clean notes, c major scale, thirds and easy things. Sometimes some c minor but still not worried about chromatics.
However now that i am near my saxes i practice it less, but i would like to keep it as another option.
Beautiful instrument.
 

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Danny Hull is a master of sax and harmonica. Standing next to him on stage is jaw-dropping when he plays harp. There are a bunch of YouTube videos of him with the Doobie Bros. when he plays both.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Danny Hull is a master of sax and harmonica. Standing next to him on stage is jaw-dropping when he plays harp. There are a bunch of YouTube videos of him with the Doobie Bros. when he plays both.
Saw him with the Doobies and thought he was sensational. Wait, you were standing on a stage next to him....WHAT?!
 

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That would be the "Mississippi sax" you're referring to. I used to play one in a blues band years ago - now just bring it out once in a while when my jam band plays a traditional blues.
 

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I've dabbled in it over the last 50 years but never studied all the right techniques or anything. It would just confuse the issue. I bought a box set of harps a few years back with instructions on how to play - like some of the comments above - I couldn't make any sense of it. Turns out I play 'cross harp' but that figures. I just heard it and learned how to do it. If my tongue makes a 'U-shape' I would be surprised because it never entered my mind. :) My most recent regular use of it was playing the harp solo on 'Heart Of Rock & Roll' with the band I was with 10 years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I wanted to actually learn it properly for once and have started with You Tube tutorials. It seems its more about the draw than anything else but I'm excited because it's an instrument that
I can easily busk with and go to jams with it in my pocket.
 

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Saw him with the Doobies and thought he was sensational. Wait, you were standing on a stage next to him....WHAT?!
Yeah, he's my friend and we've played together. He lives fairly close to me. He's an incredible talent. A lot of folks don't know it but Danny was the sax player on a lot of Eddie Money's music (R.I.P.).
 

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Years ago I had a photo of a one-man-band who played what must have been a C-Melody sax using a jury-rigged harp mouthpiece. Never heard it; and the photo was a really old black & white. But my guess is he blew harp chords and fingered a melody. This thread and the one about mounting a trumpet piece onto a sax reminded me of it.

(Started to learn harmonica, but my teacher got paroled.)
 

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Tried it a long time ago, have wrong tongue: won't shape into a U.
Genetic anomaly.
Bending pitch down on harp is done by blowing harder, blowing harder on sax without adjusting embouchure makes it sharp.
Vibrato on harp is like flute: amplitude modulation, on sax frequency modulation.
Articulation is similar.
I play melodica which is a keyed harmonica.
It's hard to bend notes but can be tongued.
Vibrato like flute.
Harp players pucker, tongue block, most a combination of both. I've seen U blocking mentioned in some very old hohner instruction pamphlets, but never met or heard of anyone who actually uses it.
Bending on harp is done by changing slightly the direction of air flow through the reeds. On the inhale or exhale. You do not want to bend by pushing or pulling more air through the reeds.
There are many variations on vibrato and/or tremelo, the most common for blues is like a small bend and originates in the throat.
There are quite a few good players with youtube channels who can take you pretty far. Adam Gussow is one. Lee Sankey has another, great, one.
 

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If you're playing cross harp, it's mostly sucking instead of blowing.
 

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Yes, blow bends only on the top of the harp. People think of those as only useful in first position, but if you’re playing cross harp, first position is the IV chord.
 
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