Overblows and how to do it!!
On Thu, 16 Jun 1994, B.G. de Boer wrote:
I have been trying to learn to overblow for about half a year now, since I was
first introduced to the subject through this list. Unfortunately I stil
haven't been able to do it very well.
Can you blow bend? If you can blow bend well, then the overblows will
follow. At first it may be easier using the pucker method(I only
know a few who can do it by tongue blocking) Overblowing the 6th hole is much
like bending the blow eight. Practice on the blow 8 by slowly bending the
note up and down in a controlled fashion. When this can be done
consistantly then move on to the blow six.
I did succeed in producing overblows, but only on a few reeds of some of my
harps. Other reeds do not overblow at all, or produce a very high-pitched whine,
or even make no sound at all, whilst neigbouring reeds start to vibrate. This
problem is even worse when I try to do overdraws (in which I haven't succeeded
Remember overblowing can only be done on holes 1(23)456. Holes 2 and 3 are
useless since the overblown notes can be gotten through precise bending.
The 1 hole overblow is not that hard to get but is very hard to sustain on
lower keyed harps. I would recommend that you start with holes 4,5,6.
Now today I saw somebody on the list making a remark that
'every harp can be made to overblow' (unfortunately I forgot who it was).
I know that lowering the offsetof the reeds helps, but how far should they
be bent back? Very small positive offset, zero offset, or even a negative
"Every harp can be made to overblow!!" I made that remark. Take your
cover plates off your harps. Hohners or Herings will work best here.
(Oskars and Huangs don't work real well for overblowing. And yes Hering
makes diatonic harmonicas but they are hard to get. They are very simular
to the hohners.) Now locate DRAW holes 4,5,6. (These are the reedson the
unside ofthe harp. The ones where the entire reed and rivet is visable)
take you thumb nail or a small screwdriver and push the draw reeds in bit.
If necessary the blow reeds can be pushed closer towards the reed plate too.
I have told people in the past to push them flush with the reed plate in
order for them to get the sound in your head. With the reeds flush all
the note will do is overblow. When you get the sound and shape of you
mouth in your head, go back and gap the reed again. There is no right or
wrong here it's all a matter of personal preference and how one plays the
harp. Too little gap will result in shorter reed response time, softer
tone. The draw backs here is the factthat these reeds will not owrk under
pressure. They will flat out and not respond at all if blown hard.
So here we are back at blow 6. (G on a C harp) Remember what
you were doing with blow 8? Well do the same thing here (hole 6).
After you have found the proper reed gap for your style of play. Try to blow
bend the note with a clean tone. You need note force it. Think control.
Sometimes it helps to sit with a piano and play the same note. The
overblown note will be a minor third above the tonic. Blow holes
4,5,6(C,E,G) will become Eb,F#,Bb.
Furthermore, are some holes easier to overblow than others (high pitched
reeds with a big interval between blow and draw are the only ones I have
overblown so far?)
You will find that on lower keyed harps the 6th hole will be easier then
the 4th. On higher keyed harps you will find the 4th hole will be easier
the overblow than the 6th.
As far as overdrawing is concerned it is pretty much the same action but
in reverse. It can be done holes 7,8,9,10. The 7and the 9 are the ones
that are used most. Again 8and10 are redudant notes. Try overdrawing on
lower keyed harps Such as: Low Eb,LowE,LowF,G,A,and Ab harps.
Good Luck!!!! For more info on overblows and such read HIP #4.
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