Re: 2000 hours - YIKES

I agree that this time gets knocked down considerably by most people who
already play another instrument. I had already played violin, bass, and
guitar for years before I ever picked up a harp, and I already could
figure things out by ear. So as soon as I learned to blow a single note
on harp, I was able to start copying licks from harp players. By the
time I'd been playing for a few months, I had lot's of licks figured out
and I adapted my guitar soloing improvisational skills to harp and was
playing before live audiences in no time. I even got a favorable
response most of the time.

Now looking back, though, I was nowhere near "reasonably proficient at
blues harp." Of course, if I'd had Harp-l and Mike Will's website back
then, I'm sure I would have done much better.

In terms of tone, I'd say all the greats had "great tone", but that
still comes in degrees. At the now infamous jam circle at the '98 SPAH
convention, there were about 20 of the world's best (and a couple of
humbled amateurs like myself) in a big circle. Even in that amazing
group, a few guys stood out as Tone Monsters. I distinctly recall Mike
Stevens and Rob Paparozzi blowing my hair back. A couple years later at
SPAH in St. Louis, Bruce "The Creeper" Kurnow blew us all away with his
tone. Chris Michalek is another guy with super-human monster tone.

Tone is vital, but I'd say no more important than several other
important factors. In fact, to me phrasing is the most important thing.
I think Taj Mahal is a great example. His tone might not be quite as
strong as some other guys (say James Cotton, for example), but I'd be
hard pressed to find a guy that could string ideas together better.
Listen to the Solo to "She Caught The Katy" - way cool phrasing. Same in
Jazz. Give me a slightly sloppy, airy-toned sax playing cool phrases
over a beautifully toned sax running inane lines any day.

- --
Alec Drachman

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