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My alto is down for a couple of weeks(Tech cant get to it as he is backlogged from the start of school.Offered to work late to do so but I dont want too presure him already gone out of his way a couple of times) so Im thinking of picking up the harmonica(accesible easily etc) Will the vey different embochure and tonguing cause enough change to create a big setback ? Weird combo huh ! Ive asked this before and appeared that the different musculature used is totally the opposite which maybe in a way would be benificial
 

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I don't think it will affect your sax playing either way. The harmonica does not really use an embouchure. More like a air seal. Of course, you have to blow out and in (called draw). Tonguing is difficult but should be learned. Another technique is called tongue blocking. For simple blues and country music, you would buy some diatonic harmonicas. For jazz you probably want a chromatic. Doubling on harmonica can lead to more gigs.
 

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I double on sax & harp. There is no interference or down side...there is no real embouchure for the harp; chords, tongue blocking, & single notes all require differing mouth positions & most are draw notes. Apart from Folkies most of the notes on harp...particularly Blues Harp, are draw notes.
The first time I picked up a saxophone I sucked (literally, not the American slang term) the mouthpiece...they are that different.
EDIT
Please do not imagine that you will be a competent harp player within a couple of weeks.It is the easiest instrument in the world to play badly but one of the most difficult to play well.
I would strongly advise you to stay away from the chromatic & concentrate on the universal 10 hole diatonic.
Remember, in blues to lose a sharp...eg band in G you play a C harp. Unless you wish to sound like Bob Dylan or early Neil Young!
 

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It should make no difference at all. I play alto sax and harmonica ( not at the same time) every Sunday in church) But you might need a sackful of harmonicas in different keys depending on what you play. Although I have several chromatics Iv'e not yet mastered one. I find the Seydel low range harps ideal for my use.
 

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...In the UK what kind of Church is that? ( FYI: Al Green still Preaches across State line in Tennessee.Least a couple of years ago he did) >Thanks for the Encouragement... Far Out.. Ya ll !. To make a few good sounds is all I want
 

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...In the UK what kind of Church is that? ( FYI: Al Green still Preaches across State line in Tennessee.Least a couple of years ago he did) >Thanks for the Encouragement... Far Out.. Ya ll !. To make a few good sounds is all I want
Pentecostal Church North Wales Bangor. Its a university town so a lot of students especially from the African nations. Keep blowing (and drawing) you'll enjoy it.
 

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I know that this is an old thread, but rather than start a new one I'm posting my question here.

I took a 4 hour harmonica workshop run by a profession player here as I have wanted to try and learn it for years. It seems that for travelling and just being out and about the harp is a natural because you can carry one in your pocket and blow it just about anywhere. Try doing that with a sax. The workshop was really good and very interesting and we worked on different basic aspects of playing blues harp. He went over and had us practicing in 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions with various backing tracks as well as learning how to bend notes and an intro to tongue blocking, which few of us could do. But this was an introductory workshop and so really just an intro and overview and not an intensive focus on any one aspect. I really enjoyed it and learned how to play a scale....although not clean or well....and bend notes to sound bluesier.

The big problem I had, and this is what has motivated this post, is that playing the blues harp involves more drawing than blowing and that is totally the reverse of sax. If you suck on the mouthpiece, you're gonna suck as a player because no sound comes out, of course.Everything we do, and I have spent years doing, involves learning control of your physical chops and your airstream/diaphragm to blow out properly. Suddenly here I was having to inhale the air and it was not just difficult for my body to do that (especially only four months out from my open heart surgery) but for my mind to control my body to do it.

Worse yet, you also blow out on the harp, which is much more natural for a sax player, but it confuses the operation. If all I had to do was draw the air in it would be a straight ahead learning path, but you don't. You have to do both and that I found hard to coordinate with an instrument in my mouth. The contact against my lips automatically made me want to blow out and playing and breathing was much easier. While drawing in, the act of getting empty lungs for other drawn notes seemed awkward and backasswards. Also as mentioned before, it really taxed my diaphragm and lungs doing the reverse of what I do automatically on sax, and that exhausted me after 3 hours.

So my questions revolve around those issues and difficulties. What is the best way to learn to accustom myself to drawing air most of the time when playing the blues? Will the difficulty and exhaustion I felt go away eventually? Does playing harp in any way compromise my sax embouchure? I know some people have said you don't really play harp with an "embouchure" as such, but you do have to squeeze your lips to form a small round opening so you can be blowing or drawing through only one hole. That seems like an embouchure to me since you have to consciously train your mouth how to properly form it. Are there any hints, tricks or tips you can give a noob on harp to make it easier to advance? Any answers or advice will be gratefully appreciated.

Thanks.
 

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I'm also learning harp......I've fiddled with them on and off over the years...but now actually trying to learn it in an organized way

I don't have any brilliant advice...but i'm sure your breathing issues will go away with practice
 

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I know that this is an old thread, but rather than start a new one I'm posting my question here.

I took a 4 hour harmonica workshop run by a profession player here as I have wanted to try and learn it for years. It seems that for travelling and just being out and about the harp is a natural because you can carry one in your pocket and blow it just about anywhere. Try doing that with a sax. The workshop was really good and very interesting and we worked on different basic aspects of playing blues harp. He went over and had us practicing in 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions with various backing tracks as well as learning how to bend notes and an intro to tongue blocking, which few of us could do. But this was an introductory workshop and so really just an intro and overview and not an intensive focus on any one aspect. I really enjoyed it and learned how to play a scale....although not clean or well....and bend notes to sound bluesier.

The big problem I had, and this is what has motivated this post, is that playing the blues harp involves more drawing than blowing and that is totally the reverse of sax. If you suck on the mouthpiece, you're gonna suck as a player because no sound comes out, of course.Everything we do, and I have spent years doing, involves learning control of your physical chops and your airstream/diaphragm to blow out properly. Suddenly here I was having to inhale the air and it was not just difficult for my body to do that (especially only four months out from my open heart surgery) but for my mind to control my body to do it.

Worse yet, you also blow out on the harp, which is much more natural for a sax player, but it confuses the operation. If all I had to do was draw the air in it would be a straight ahead learning path, but you don't. You have to do both and that I found hard to coordinate with an instrument in my mouth. The contact against my lips automatically made me want to blow out and playing and breathing was much easier. While drawing in, the act of getting empty lungs for other drawn notes seemed awkward and backasswards. Also as mentioned before, it really taxed my diaphragm and lungs doing the reverse of what I do automatically on sax, and that exhausted me after 3 hours.

So my questions revolve around those issues and difficulties. What is the best way to learn to accustom myself to drawing air most of the time when playing the blues? Will the difficulty and exhaustion I felt go away eventually? Does playing harp in any way compromise my sax embouchure? I know some people have said you don't really play harp with an "embouchure" as such, but you do have to squeeze your lips to form a small round opening so you can be blowing or drawing through only one hole. That seems like an embouchure to me since you have to consciously train your mouth how to properly form it. Are there any hints, tricks or tips you can give a noob on harp to make it easier to advance? Any answers or advice will be gratefully appreciated.

Thanks.
You must learn tongue blocking, instead of the pucker. Most all of the good blues players tongue blocked either most or all of the time. Tongue blocking really opens up the harp. After that, just like other instruments: hours of practice, including long tones in and out.
 

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hours of practice, including long tones in and out.
Handily this can be done while stuck in traffic jams, unlike most other instruments!
 

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One thing in my experience you need to be careful of, is getting in the habit of dumping air via the nose when exhaling. Blues harp players inhale so much that getting rid of air is a problem and learn to dump as much air as possible when they finally get a blow note. Not a good habit to carry over to sax, to say the least.
 

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One thing in my experience you need to be careful of, is getting in the habit of dumping air via the nose when exhaling. Blues harp players inhale so much that getting rid of air is a problem and learn to dump as much air as possible when they finally get a blow note. Not a good habit to carry over to sax, to say the least.
Very true, and really obvious now you point it out.
 

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Very true, and really obvious now you point it out.
This is so true. I've been playing sax for over 30 years and chromatic harmonica for about 2. I love the portability and the things I can do with it, but I often find myself with a belly full of air, due to those weird passages in which every single note seem to be a draw. Never thought about the nose dump technique. Will use it for sure!

As for the embouchoure, it does not affect the sax at all. Quite the opposite. It give it a nice break.
cheers,
 

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“Harp” is confusing for the obvious reason that there has been a different instrument for hundreds of years with the same name. Mouth harp or mouth organ seems to be preferred.
 

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Blues Harp is a fine name even if it doesn't technically cover the playing of blues on a chromatic harmonica, like what Stevie Wonder plays. Everyone knows it's not the same harp as the one Harpo Marx played even if he had played the blues, which of course he didn't.
 

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I've always played a little harp esp. on blues gigs. It doesn't affect your sax playing in any way and you can let the sax hang while you play the harp - but you need to have a second/vocal mic set up for the quick changes. On 'Heart Of R&R' I play the little harp fill at the end, the tenor ride in the middle and do the horn section parts with my harmonizer (if it wasn't for the harmonica, I could do them on dual saxes but playing the harp solo with alto and tenor hanging on your neck is definitely for maybe 20 years ago). I'm typically very busy on a gig, usually have tenor, alto and baritone plus back-up vocals and maybe some harp. But that's the way I like it - its a challenge, esp. at the age of 75. :)
 
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