I can only hold the harp with one hand because of a disability. Any hints on how to most effectively attack the wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah on the V chord change without being able to cup? Or modify the lick?
Hi Dave - If you look up some of my other acoustic lessons (Sonnyboy's Groove would be one example) you should be able to find spots where I demonstrate the way many of the the hand effects are actually a combination of hand and mouth effects. You should definitely be able to shape notes to a certain extent using only your mouth. Also (I think I may have suggested this before) check out Big John Wrencher - He was a great, one-armed harp player with an awesome tone. Keep at it and let me know how it's coming along!
Generous of you to share your signature piece. Most keep that one to themselves.
The notes are mostly pretty simple and it's all in the feeling you bring to them. Much appreciate your detailed explanations of how you attack the notes, vary the weight and use the space in between to bring out the feeling. That's where the artistry is and while I'll never get to where you're at in this lifetime, I take satisfaction from improving little by little.
Rick, this was a really fine series, one of the best harp lessons I've ever come across. The notes aren't hard to get, but the subtleties of timing, intonation and feeling that create the sound you and SBW get will probably take a couple of years to master, if ever. At least now I know how to shoot for it and understand what SBW is doing across much of his repertoire.
Thanks for the detailed instruction and your willingness to answer stupid questions. Look forward to your next turn.
Thank you Dave - I'm real glad you enjoyed this series and feel like it gave some new things to consider and work on.
I'm still learning too.
The more time you spend with it, the closer you'll get to what you're shooting for - So, keep it in your mouth and have fun with it!
Thanks Rick for the very clear explanation. You're right, when I stop overthinking it's pretty straightforward.
Rick, I seem to be able to play this in rhythm, but am having trouble intellectualizing the rhythm if that makes any sense. I suspect this could be a problem timing the longer runs later in the solo.
When you play it slow, you seem to tap with your hand one beat on the three draw, one beat on the double chuck and one beat on the last chuck. Where is the fourth beat? Is it a double beat or silent beat somewhere?
Hi Dave - I'm not sure I understand your question, but hopefully this relates to your question and can help you to understand the timing of the figure . I'd suggest that instead of attempting to mathematically disect this little groove, if you can, just try duplicating what I'm doing and feeling the rhythm.
Thanks Rick. Very generous of you to give it so much thought. I'll work on all of your suggestions.
And thanks too for the pointer to Big John Wrencher, whom I spent last evening with. What a player. Don't know how I'd never encountered him before.
Rick, I'm starting to get this I think. Thanks for the clear descriptions of what you're doing. The hardest part for me is embedding the internal metronome and the groove. I was always a lousy dancer.
Because of a disability, I'm able to hold the harp with only one hand, which makes it impossible to do the cupping, fanning and slapping techniques with the other hand--kind of like playing out of a rack. If you had to play it this way, any advice on how to use mouth articulations or other punctuations to simulate or replace the fanning at the end of the fourth bar or the wahs at the finish?
Hi Dave - There are some techniques you can work on to help you get a bigger variety of sounds and effects using one hand. If I were you, when practicing I'd concentrate on developing a really focused, big, rich tone. I'd also work on strengthening your throat vibrato. A pronounced, in-time throat vibrato can give you a strong, prominent pulsing effect. It won't sound exactly like a fanning hand, but it will articule the triplets of the beat in a similar fashion. You can also "speechify" your harp playing to a certain extent without the use of hand wah-wahs by modifying the shape of your oral cavity to find contrasting brighter and darker tones. If you mix those in with the slight bends at either the front or the back of the note, you'll be able make the harp talk. And above all, work on that groove! You say you were always a lousy dancer, but work with it! Put on some music, feel the beat and move around. Find your own moves. The moves don't have to look graceful or pretty, as long as you feel that rhythm and try to inject that groove into your harp playing. Also, check out Big John Wrencher AKA One Arm John. Look him up on the internet. He was a real cool Chicago harp player with a huge tone, a beautiful vibrato and a great groove.
So Dave, try this stuff - really work on it - spend some time on it, then write me back and let me know how you're doing with it.
Do I hear a little pickup note just before the 3-4 draw slide? Sounds like it could be a tongue slap on the three draw or a slight double articulation of the final chord exhale. What are you doing there?
Hi Dave - Good ear! I'm often breathing through the harp to keep that groove going and in listening to what I did when I demonstate the lick slowly, I could sometimes hear a little exhale pick-up - Most importantly, the rhythmic feel of that pick-up is always there - whether I play it or not.
Thanks, playing softer does extend the breath and sounds better too.
Any tips on breathing? Do you pretty much have to hold the inhale for the four bars or is there a discreet way to get rid of some air along the way?
I think you just have to suck it up (pardon the pun) for the first four bards. I play it softer on the first four bars and then get my air out on the blows of the IV. I think I let air leak out my nose too.
As Taylor says, it's a good idea to play softer for this section. As a harmonica player, you always want to play softer in general, it's always good technique to play soft so you don't run out of air...! Breath control is very important playing harp.
Playing the harmonica softer always gets a better sound and tone...as long as your not playing an el cheapo $1.99 harmonica from the truck stop, in which case it would be so leaky you wouldn't be able to play softly...!
"El Cheapo"? See Dennis, you CAN speak Spanish. https://youtu.be/XKRQMCHlONU according to this video, drinking liquor helps. At least that's what the internet says...
Love the rhythmic bounce of the chords but have never hit my single-note tongue blocks as clean as I'd like. Any tips on the mechanics, like whether to block with tip of tongue, top of tongue or side of tongue? How to keep out air from the other side of the mouth?
Hi - thanks!
Blocking with the tip of your tongue will give you the most precisiona nd control. Just allow yourself time to get comfortable with it. Your airstream is basically the side of your tongue/mouth, so it's a matter of getting used to that approach.
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