Re: Helpful Stuff
I've been reading all the messages that poured in (hope my reply broke
the ice). Here's some things I can add:
1. Simon Walsh asked "What is bending".
While driving down the road yesterday, I gave a friend of mine a
quick harp lesson after he found my Lee Oscar harp under my van seat.
I told him how to bend the note by drawing a single note (4) (did I
do this notation right) ;-) and roll your tongue in a slight U shape
as you pull it back and down a bit. Then bring it back forward.
My friend never played harp and got it on the first try so I must
have explained it right. OK kids, you MAY try this at home!
2. Simon also asked "does one bend all the time, or only at appropriate
places in a song?"
The latter. Learn what a bend sounds like and how to do it. Then
listen to harp songs and hear how the harp player adds bends for style.
I highly recommend the harp books in the stores. I started with the
harp book by Sonny Boy Williamson. They'll get you started.
3. Simon said "is C ok to learn with?"
Sure it is. Actually any key is OK but most songs will probably be
using an A or C harp.
4. Then Simon said "Anyone got any advice on any topic at all for me
as a rank beginner?"
Yea, stop talkin' and start playin your harp! (just kidding) :-)
One thing I can offer is this handy-dandy little cross harp chart:
SONG KEY HARP KEY
F B flat
B flat E flat
When playing "straight harp" the song (or guitar and such) and harp are in
the same key. When playing "cross harp" (most standard blues styles) the harp
is a fourth above the song. Cross harp is the way I play all my songs.
5. Fixing harps (anybody got a needle?)
Like ficara@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx said, use the bellows to test the harp.
Only takes a few seconds. Once you've played it you can't return it.
If your harp eventually has a problem "open harp surgery" (love the term)
isn't really that hard. Use anything to pry off the cover but don't bend
it (or if you're lucky the harp cover can be unscrewed). I take a needle
and unstick the reed. Then I use it to clean any debris out of the
nooks and crannys in the harp (after playing your harp it's a good idea
to tap the reeds on your pants to get any saliva out (sounds gross but hey,
that's life). For risk takers only: When I get a new harp I open it up
and very *gently* use a needle and bend some of the reeds up and down to
loosen them up to break the harp in faster. Sometimes I need a new harp
for a gig and I don't have time to break it in properly. Try it if you
need to. I've never had problems with it.
My advice on chromonicas: don't open them up unless you are sure you
know how to clean the other type. If you DO open it remember how you
took it apart! The plastic reeds are very fragile and glued on. Don't
mess with them--believe me--one wrinkle in them can ruin the sound. I
sent my chromonica to Hohner in Virginia to get re-reeded. They do it
fast and cheap. It's worth it on the more expensive harps.
6. ficara@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wanted more info on the Green bullet mic:
The Green Bullet is built for harp playing (I wouldn't sing through it).
It's kind of round shaped (size of a small peach I guess) and personally I
think it's a bit heavy to hold but you get used to it. It comes with a
long cable so you can move around. Mine cost $89. The more you cup your
hands around it the more the tone changes and volume increases (can feed back
if cupped too much but a quick adjustment on the EQ fixes that). I've used a
couple ways to amplify my harp and the Green Bullet is the best way to do it.
OK, gotta do some work now (I'm on government time ya know). Talk to
Carolyn (or Carolina on stage)
Carolyn A. Mayr (Computer Programmer) MaBell: (410) 267-4413
Computer Aided Design/Interactive Graphics INTERNET: carolyn@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
590 Holloway Road, Rickover Hall, Stop 11G UUCP: ...!uunet!usna!carolyn
U.S. Naval Academy Autovon: 281-4413
Annapolis, MD 21402-5042 FAX: (410) 267-2591
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