Re: Subject: [Harp-L] Looking for new inspiration
In a message dated 6/1/2007 5:40:52 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
How do you find the best position for playing a tune?
"Position" playing is a good way to get to know where all the notes "live"
on the diatonic. Move past position playing and into playing the music. Easier
said than done, however.
A few of the most interesting players have evolved into playing the notes
wherever they may be without attaching a position to them. I describe this as
playing the harmonica rather than having the harmonica play you.
"Having the harmonica play you" is when you are limited by the harmonica -
what you play sounds "harmonicky". This is not a bad thing, it just is. Sounds
great for blues. "Hey, that sounds like 3rd position".
You can free yourself of the limitations inherent in position playing by
truly learning where all the notes live - this means a firm knowledge and
fledgling mastery over creating notes through technique as well as owning all the
givens. You can play the harmonica and tell it which notes you need without
Granted, if you learned to play harmonica as your first instrument and
through positions, it is difficult to alter your orientation. If you played
another instrument first, it is not quite so difficult. However, the rewards are
well worth the effort. You may start to morph into a musician that plays the
harmonica as well as a harmonica player.
In learning all the techniques to create notes not given by merely breathing
in and out, you will discover the differences in the tone quality based on
the physical aspects of reed vibration - ie, OB's sound different. Some of us
are on the path of seamlessness, trying to minimize the differences. I've
come to conclude that there is no way to completely solve this dilemma and, in
essence, agree with a lot of Richard Hunter's observations. However, it is a
lot of fun to use innovative timing and placement solutions help minimize the
differences in tones to create more fluid results.
Once you take all this into account and know where all the notes live, you
can relate this knowledge to which "position" (or orientation) gives you the
best results for playing a tune based on your level of mastery over the
techniques. You can use position as a reference point, but I suggest that if you
move beyond position playing mindset, you will free up your ability to create
and lessen the limitation that the harmonica can place on you as a musician.
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