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Discussion Starter #1
After many, many, many hours reading the web, harmonica books, even youtube, apparently my little brain can't grasp what 2nd position truly is.

Given a C harp, some explanations make it sound as if 2nd position is merely playing G major keys on that C harp (G A B C D E F# G). That doesn't seem too demanding, as the only bend you'd need from a C harp is the F# - yet I doubt that's what's producing the "bluesy" sound they are talking about. Also, why not just get a G harp in that case?

Other sources say 2nd position is G Mixolydian (G A B C D E F G), but you can produce those notes on a C harp with no bends, so where's the bluesy sound there?

I know that the C blues scale is (C D Eb E G A) and G blues is (G A Bb B D E) - but people don't mention those when speaking of 2nd position. I'm a bit surprised they're aren't harmonicas with those notes directly (no bends).

So, given a C harp, exactly which holes on it do I want to blow or draw and which notes from those holes do I want to bend to?

Thanks!
 

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I don’t play harmonica but, would this help?





 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for taking the time to look those up and link to them, but I had already found them before.

My problem when I watch those videos is they seem to gloss over what notes actually get played from the C harps' holes. The one and only thing I'm certain of (and what everyone seems to want to talk about) is that #2 draw is G - - - but draw#2 is already G on a C harp without any bending. So I'm wondering how are the other holes played and which are bent to get which notes?
 

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Maybe you can ask any or all the people on you tube to address this particular problem?

Good Luck!
 

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uh ... you're on a sax forum. Can you find a harmonica forum? I play with a harp player in my main band. I also can play a little cross harp and so can the guitar player in the band. I think you're overthinking this or asking the wrong question. it would probably be most helpful to get with a good blues harp player and talk to him about it. Also, play along with a lot of blues records and find out what works.

I'll try to say it simply here. When the band plays a blues in C you want to play your F harp in 2nd position. That will give you a C blues scale. Don't think about what the notes are. Find a recording of a blues in C and play along on your F harp in 2nd position. Bend the notes when you're drawing to see what each sounds like. Listen and don't think about the note names. If you want to play along to a blues in G, use your C harp in 2nd position.
 

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After many, many, many hours reading the web, harmonica books, even youtube, apparently my little brain can't grasp what 2nd position truly is.

Given a C harp, some explanations make it sound as if 2nd position is merely playing G major keys on that C harp (G A B C D E F# G). That doesn't seem too demanding, as the only bend you'd need from a C harp is the F# - yet I doubt that's what's producing the "bluesy" sound they are talking about. Also, why not just get a G harp in that case?

Other sources say 2nd position is G Mixolydian (G A B C D E F G), but you can produce those notes on a C harp with no bends, so where's the bluesy sound there?

I know that the C blues scale is (C D Eb E G A) and G blues is (G A Bb B D E) - but people don't mention those when speaking of 2nd position. I'm a bit surprised they're aren't harmonicas with those notes directly (no bends).

So, given a C harp, exactly which holes on it do I want to blow or draw and which notes from those holes do I want to bend to?

Thanks!
I'm an actual harp player, although not a very good one. But I can get by, and I play a lot of blues on my harps.

First off, those are not the C blues and G blues scales that you posted. You posted notes 2-7 of the A and E blues scales respectively. The G blues scale is G Bb C Db D F G.

I haven't watched any of the posted videos, but here's how G blues on a C harmonica in cross harp (2nd position) works.

2nd position on a C harp is indeed G mixolydian. But you start on hole 2 (hence 2nd) and bend to get the blue notes.

So on a C harp in cross harp (2nd position), to play a G blues scale:
2 draw G, 3 draw bend Bb, 4 blow C, 4 draw bend Db, 4 draw D, 5 draw F, 6 blow G

There are harmonicas with all the blue notes, the entire chromatic scale in fact, played directly without bending. That's called a chromatic harmonica. It bigger than a diatonic harp and has a button on one end that you press to raise any note 1/2 step. I have a Honer Super Chromonica which is one of many chromatic harps. If you listen to Stevie Wonder or Toots, that's what they play. But guys like Howard Levy and most rock/blues guys play diatonic and bend to get all the blue and chromatic notes. Bending on a diatonic harp sounds much more soulful and bluesy than playing the blues without bending on a chromatic, IMO.

I highly recommend you play the correct blues scales on your sax first so you have an idea what they sound like. Don't play the scales you posted because they are wrong. You can construct a blues scale in any key from the corresponding major scale by playing the following alterations:

1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 1
in C that works out to:
C Eb F Gb G Bb C

Does that make sense?
 

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Thanks to mdavej for sorting out what the problem was in the beginning. Yes, the blues scale is
1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 1
in C that works out to:
C Eb F Gb G Bb C
and a G blues scale is
G Bb C C# D F G
[edit: I just noticed that mdavej already said this: "The G blues scale is G Bb C Db D F G"]

If you want to play the notes in the G blues scale, play 2nd position on a C harp.

(I think I said that right. If I didn't, someone please correct me. It's hard to write this out, as opposed to just playing it.)
 

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I'm an actual harp player, although not a very good one. But I can get by, and I play a lot of blues on my harps.

First off, those are not the C blues and G blues scales that you posted. You posted notes 2-7 of the A and E blues scales respectively. The G blues scale is G Bb C Db D F G.

I haven't watched any of the posted videos, but here's how G blues on a C harmonica in cross harp (2nd position) works.

2nd position on a C harp is indeed G mixolydian. But you start on hole 2 (hence 2nd) and bend to get the blue notes.

So on a C harp in cross harp (2nd position), to play a G blues scale:
2 draw G, 3 draw bend Bb, 4 blow C, 4 draw bend Db, 4 draw D, 5 draw F, 6 blow G

There are harmonicas with all the blue notes, the entire chromatic scale in fact, played directly without bending. That's called a chromatic harmonica. It bigger than a diatonic harp and has a button on one end that you press to raise any note 1/2 step. I have a Honer Super Chromonica which is one of many chromatic harps. If you listen to Stevie Wonder or Toots, that's what they play. But guys like Howard Levy and most rock/blues guys play diatonic and bend to get all the blue and chromatic notes. Bending on a diatonic harp sounds much more soulful and bluesy than playing the blues without bending on a chromatic, IMO.

I highly recommend you play the correct blues scales on your sax first so you have an idea what they sound like. Don't play the scales you posted because they are wrong. You can construct a blues scale in any key from the corresponding major scale by playing the following alterations:

1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 1
in C that works out to:
C Eb F Gb G Bb C

Does that make sense?
Don't give up on chromatic. It's fun and pretty easy to play 3rd position on the chrom.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
...
The G blues scale is G Bb C Db D F G.

...

So on a C harp in cross harp (2nd position), to play a G blues scale:
2 draw G, 3 draw bend Bb, 4 blow C, 4 draw bend Db, 4 draw D, 5 draw F, 6 blow G

...

Does that make sense?
Yes, very much, thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for.

I didn't realize I had the blues scales wrong, so thank you for the advice regarding that. I will definitely try them on my sax first and play around with them.
 
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