[Harp-L] Fwd: Note bending technique

Begin forwarded message:

From: "John F. Potts" <hvyj@xxxxxxx>
Date: November 6, 2008 7:35:34 PM GMT-05:00
To: IcemanLE@xxxxxxx
Subject: Note bending technique


Question re: your excellent post about bending to pitch (which is reproduced below). When bending the 3 draw 1-1/2 steps (3 half steps) down and when bending the 2 draw a whole step down, is it typically necessary to bend down to the floor of the bend and, if not, how much above the floor would a player typically need to stop on a quality stock harp?

Although I'm better than i used to be, I don't have the best ear for pitch. I can hear the half step bend on the draw 4 okay, and i tend NOT not to bend the 4 draw down to the floor in order to get the flat 5 in second position. Also, unless I'm really leaning on it for growl, I usually don't bend the draw 2 all the way to the floor to get the flat 7 in second position, but I'm not actually sure if I'm playing a true flat 7 or a "blue" 7 when i do not bend down to the floor. On the 3 half step bend on draw 3 (which i don't need to use all that much) , i usually drop the bend all the way to the floor--I'm not sure i could find that bend any other way.

Anyway, I'd find it very helpful if you would be willing to share your wisdom and experience re: how far from the "floor" these bends (draw 2=whole step and draw 3=1-1/2 steps) should typically be played in order to bend down to the correct pitch. What can you tell us?


Iceman wrote:

How many of you understand that when you bend a note to the "floor" (my
label for that place where the note bends down to the "max" and won't go any
lower) the actual pitch is almost 1/4 tone flat? This is very similar to playing
the 5 hole inhale and bending it downwards.

One wouldn't want this lowered pitch to represent the sound of 5 hole inhale
for most situations involved w/melodic line reproduction if you are
concerned with in/out of tune.

The same may be said for all those notes created through bending techniques.
OB's are even more evident, as you really need to tweak your technique to
pull them closer to true pitch.

If you are strictly a blues player, this phenomenon is not so critical to
the music. However, with the new wave of players expanding the diatonic into
other areas of music, it is an important consideration.

For example, 4 hole inhale bend - when you achieve proper pitch and sustain
it, you should have room below to bend further downwards - exactly the same
note placement as playing 5 hole inhale with the ability to bend this pitch
downwards. However, this is quite a finesse point and takes sensitivity and
awareness to first of all understand this and second of all to develop the
technique to feel this one out. Most players seem to bend down to the max, feeling
the "floor" as a resistance and using this as a guide of where to place the

If this maximum bending is considered a "floor", try to PLACE this note (or
float it) about 1 foot above the floor. Using some sort of pitch meter to help
visualize may be helpful at first to grasp this concept.

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