Jerry Portnoy

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Masterclass


Tongue Blocking and Octaves

Tongue blocking is a technique to get single notes from the harmonica.  It’s a great tool as it also allows you to start the note with a chord .. and then ‘block’ all but the remaining notes with your tongue just after the notes sound.  This gives a great percussive effect that is full, rich and open to many variations.

Without tongue blocking, your sound is going to be very limited and pretty thin.  In addition to percussive single notes, tongue blocking also allows you to play octaves, split chords, back rhythm and various special effects.

A Harp in the Key of E.

Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Technique

Print Print Chords & Tab

A Harp in the Key of E.

 

 

Comments

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Manuel
Manuel Nov 17, 2018

Dear Sonic Junction community!

One question relating to the tongue blocking technique:
Is it advisable to learn playing single notes from the left corner of the mouth as well? Many instructional videos show the technique of using only the right corner. Do you use both techniques (switching between right and left corner of your mouth) when tongue blocking?

All the best
Manuel 

Manuel
Manuel Nov 05, 2018

Ah yes, they have already discussed this topic in the forum a while ago: http://www.sonicjunction.com/jerry-portnoy/ask/topics/160-jerry-single-note-bend-while-tongue-blocking-fact-myth-or-legend

Ha-ha, it feels a little bit like going back to that time when I have worked on my lip pursed bendings ... back to the roots! 

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Nov 05, 2018

Hey Manuel !! don t force it ... stay relax ... it will come , for Sure ... and later it will help because there so many things you will do with tongue block ... you ll see !!

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Nov 05, 2018

Hi Manuel !! to answer your question , I will say that you Should pratice bending with tongue block ... to me , you have no choice if you want to get deeper in you playing , and for instance there a couple of Rick Estrin song on the Site ... that if you Realy want to groove and be able to have a good "grip" on the phrasing , you should bend with tongue block ... practice slowly bending wilth tongue block , and the "control" will come , it did to me !! ... hope it s gonna help ?? 

Manuel
Manuel Nov 05, 2018

Hi Andre, thanks a lot for the prompt reply and your thoughts. Now I know what to do for the next weeks, months...  ;-) Great, entering a new terrain... my harps and me, we are ready for this journey! I am looking forward to it. 

Manuel
Manuel Nov 05, 2018

Hello Jerry and Sonic Junction community,

 

I am new here, therefore a few words about my harp playing and my interests. Mainly I am a lip pursed player yet. However I have a strong interest in digging into to the world of tongue blocking. 


My question is: if you play single notes with a tongue block what about bending these notes? In a lip pursed style I have control over my bendings however with tongue blocking … Ha-ha, it is tricky trying to bend a note from the corner of your mouth. Is there a specific technique too or is it just about practising and training your muscle memory to get comfortable with that?

 

All the best

Manuel

Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Aug 16, 2016

Simplify! You're right, you don't need to fill all the spaces. Give some air and space around what you play so it has a chance to resonate with the listener. Play simple straightforward lines that tell a story.

Mike Marshall
Mike Marshall Aug 01, 2016

Jerry,

I am not a technically advaned player. I am completely self taught and there are many aspects of the harp that I am lacking.

Prior to very recently I was completely unaware of what tounge blocking and overblowing were. I am not an acomplished blues player at all.

I spent so much of my time practicing by my self that I tend to fill all of the spaces. I am hoping the lessons will give me more variety in what I choose to play as well as more real technique. I am close to retirement and plan to use the harp to fill my time again. My chops are almost back but I want to play more than just my stuff.

Thank you for making this resource available.

I have included a couple of songs I recorded a (long) while ago.

Mabey you can make a competant blues player out of me.

Mike

Mike Marshall
Mike Marshall Aug 01, 2016

Jerry,

I am not a technically advaned player. I am completely self taught and there are many aspects of the harp that I am lacking.

Prior to very recently I was completely unaware of what tounge blocking and overblowing were. I am not an acomplished blues player at all.

I spent so much of my time practicing by my self that I tend to fill all of the spaces. I am hoping the lessons will give me more variety in what I choose to play as well as more real technique. I am close to retirement and plan to use the harp to fill my time again. My chops are almost back but I want to play more than just my stuff.

Thank you for making this resource available.

I have included a song I recorded a (long) while ago.

Mabey you can make a competant blues player out of me.

Mike

Donnie
Donnie Jan 03, 2015

Hey Jerry, Have been messing around with the harp for about five years, but would say i'm still at the begginer level. I can not do the tongue block method everytime i try the air just stops nothing at all plese help. i thought of just giving up

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Jul 17, 2013

Hi Earl ... good catch.  Jerry's playing an A Harp through-out the entire Masterclass series of lessons.  I've updated the description.  My apologies for the omission.  

earl jack
earl jack Jul 17, 2013

Masterclass Tongue block What harp are you using C,A???   Earl S

 

Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Apr 17, 2013

Hi Guy,

Try relaxing the back of your throat to lessen the likelihood of playing the note flat. Also make sure you have the "true" note in your mind as you attempt to play it.

Guy P
Guy P Apr 17, 2013

Been playing almost a year and still learning every day. I can bend really great but now my tongue always wants to bend even when I tell it not to so im having prblems with just getting a clean un bent note sometimes.

JJ Slim
JJ Slim Jan 29, 2013

WOW  You are an awesome teacher.

Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Nov 17, 2012

You're on the right track Andrew. Especially the second chorus where the slaps and octaves come across very well.

andrew jones
andrew jones Nov 14, 2012

practice 2 t/b octaves learning basics enjoying these lessons

Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Nov 05, 2012

Good start, Andrew. However, there is no double draw on the 1/2 draw chord when you return to the rhythm after slap tonguing the 4 blow or the 5 draw. It's just a single draw breath as you return to the rhythm.

Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Sep 11, 2012

Hi Guys,

Just stick with it. Careful listening and focused practice will get you there.

TonyHollywood
TonyHollywood Sep 08, 2012

This is awesome. Thank you for sharing with your fans. This is a dream come true, to learn from thr best of the best.

Phil Stefanini
Phil Stefanini May 23, 2012

Wheww... This takes some practice... It's difficult to recognize when the right notes are playing as my slap down is a little forced so I'm getting mixed results.  Being able to hear it done correctly (adjust and then try it again) is invaluable.... though m taking this lesson a little slower, in segments, a few minutes at a time. Thank you and best regards!  Phil

 
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