Re: articulation

At 12:03 AM 4/30/95, JJTHADEN@xxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
>I suspect this is due to limited articulation skills.
>I wonder how youall handle these matters?  How do you break your notes?  What
>do you usually "say" when you play a phrase? I know it will be different for
>those who mostly purse, and those who mostly tongue-block.
>Students of guitar can pay a little and watch a top-flight guitarist work his
>fretboard all night long.  Most of what we harp players do is invisible.
>I'd be interested to contribute to a multilogue on articulation.

I'm only speaking from a diatonic point of view but I would expect some
crossover to the chromatic.

I think the instrument has limited articulation possibilities that may lead
one to believe that the player has limited articulation skills.

Unlike a guitar, we can't get the same ~effect~ from every note in the
scale. As an example, when Little Walter breaks into his first solo on
Mellow Down Easy he plays a power #4 draw on a D harp in 2nd position(which
I'll let the experts define a name for but I usually call it the
gettin'-down-to-it technique). Whatever you call the particular technique
he employs for that note, it can only be achieved in two places on a harp,
#4 & #6 draw. So we can only use it two places in the scale. We can kinda
fake it in other places but we can't actually get the same exact effect.

Some may say to use valves or overblow or play in 4th, 5th or 6th position
or play on a rack but the limitations are still there. Guitar players just
slide down the neck. Many other instruments like sax, piano, brass, etc.
don't have that problem. Harmonica players just don't have the luxury of
achieving certain effects on certain notes of any given scale.

It's not limited to this technique or #4 draw. There are many effects which
can only be achieved on one hole. There are ways of playing a #2 draw bend
with a ~feel~ that can't be done anywhere else on the harp. There are other
effects only available in a few places and techniques available on every

Delay type electronic effects such as chorus, flanging, delay and reverb
can greatly increase the smoothness of legato. This of course assumes that
one has somewhat of a smooth legato to start with.

I find it interesting that guitar players watch each other play to learn
techniques while, as Barry pointed out, harp players tend to listen and
visualize(I realize that this is a generalization, perhaps even a bogus
one). A guitar player has the luxury of being able to watch what she does
while she plays while nobody gets to watch what a harp player does,
including himself.


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