Re: [Harp-L] Articulation...

It's not a dumb question at all. You may feel like a dummy but really you're someone who's open to learning and willing to risk a question.

In Harmonica For Dummies I devote an entire chapter to the air column inside your body and the various points at which you can articulate a note (along with different ways of producing vibrato).

The lower the articulation (as in diaphragm) the more powerful but the less crisp the articulation. As you move forward (glottal stop, K-spot, mid-tongue, tongue tip, lips) the attack gets shallower and crisper.

All articulation points are valid and all are important parts of your bag of musical techniques.

As you note, the tongue slap can sound mushy. Here's why: If you start with a chord, then slap to a single note, you hear the change from chord to single note as the main feature of the articulation. But you actually start the chord before that point, and the chord may have no defined attack. The single note is part of that chord, so it doesn;'t really have a defined starting point either, unless you articulate the beginning of the chord (T, K, throat, etc.). However, this can take attention away from the slap itself. You could also articulate the beginning of the single note at the end of the chord, but this might interrput the fluid motion from chord to single note. It might be interesting to add tongued (or throat) attacks to tongue slaps, but my guess is that they would sound fussy. Maybe not; it's always worth experimenting . . .

The other potential downside to a tongue slap is that if the chord notes on the harmonica clash with the chord played by piano, guitar, etc., then the slap will sound bad. Players who use slaps where they clash with the backing chord are not doing themselves any favors - you have to actually listen and understand whether the slap works in the musical context.


Winslow Yerxa

Author, Harmonica For Dummies ISBN 978-0-470-33729-5

--- On Sat, 11/8/08, JFlash541@xxxxxxx <JFlash541@xxxxxxx> wrote:
From: JFlash541@xxxxxxx <JFlash541@xxxxxxx>
Subject: [Harp-L] Articulation...
To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
Date: Saturday, November 8, 2008, 1:20 PM

Here's a question (probably dumb one but anyways...)
I've been playing now for nearly six years, mostly blues, and have 
begun to record myself to go back and review to see what I could do  better.  
I've been in the habit of tongue blocking and articulating  notes with a 
tongue slap.  Listening to it, I can tell that it is kind of a  mushy attack on

single note playing and not a good sound a lot of times for what  I am doing.  
The question....  Is the best attack on a single  note the "ta" using
the tongue 
or "ka" coming from the throat?....what's the  most common?  I
know this 
isn't an exciting topic but thanks for the  help.... I don't want to be
a sloppy 
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