Re: advice on diatonics

On Sat, 28 Jan 1995, Alan Levy wrote:

> Hi,
> I just recently subscribed to the list and am an intermediate skill level 
> player. I have been playing for about eight months and I think I need 
> some help on advancing my skill level. Right now I kind of feel like 
> i've reached a plateau in regards to what a play when I cross with  
> guitar.  Are there any books, videos, etc out there to help me dig 
> deeper with my harmonica?  I have been using diatonics (I only have 
> three) and they are Marine Band, and Golden Melodys.
> Any other advice--as far as cross harp is concerned, such as cool riffs, 
> techniques, etc--would be very helpful.
> Thanks a lot,
> Alan Levy
> "..where in the world do you get your sugar from??"
>   				--Walt. Horton  

My advice is to learn more positions. I know you're a cross harp player, 
and the majority of what I play is in cross harp. But when I learned 
first and third positions my horizons definitely expanded. I find third 
especially useful, and not only for minor key playing. Third is almoast 
as versatile as cross harp - Sugar Blue uses third a lot (I think he 
plays more in third than in second) and Jr. Wells uses it a lot - 
especially on "Hoodoo Man Blues." In fact, all of the great blues players 
use or used a lot of third.

First is great too, but I don't use it as much as second and third. Big 
Walter had some really creative use of first position - listen to "Hard 
Hearted Woman" and "Trouble in Mind" where he beautifally jumps from 
the low octve to the high octave. And of course, there's his classic 
version of "La Cucaracha." 

Once you know third and first you will have more potential in your 
playing. You have three harps - you will be able to play in nine keys! 
There are other positions beyond first, second and third, but I haven't 
really explored the other ones yet.

As far as books go - I learned the basics with books by Jon Gindick, 
David Harp and Tony Glover. Most of the basic blues harp books discuss 
the basic three positions and focus mainly on cross harp. The Charlie 
Musselwhite/Phil Duncan book is an excellent book for beginning and 
intermediate players and gets into fourth and fifth poistions as well as 
the basic three. Steve Baker's "Tha Harp Handbook" is probably the 
essential diatonic harp book, and has lots of information on expanding 
your horizons (including the different positions, custom tuning your 
harps, overblowing, jazz harmonica on the diatonic, embouchre and bening 
exercises). I have heard many good things about the Gary Primich book but 
I haven't seen it yet.

Another word of advice is listen to every harp recording and player you 
get a chance to. There are hundreds of great recordings out there, in all 
kinds of styles and thousands, maybe even millions (who knows?) of great 
harp players performing and recording.


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