Re: [Harp-L] Question from a rank beginner
Some pretty useful replies, so far, from Tony and Elizabeth. Here's my view of why those two holes respond the way they do.
The pairs of reeds in each of these two holes, are further apart, in pitch, than any other pair on the instrument, with the exception of hole ten.
All reeds can be lowered in pitch to varying degrees. If the paired reed is higher, then the depth to which the lower reed can be bent will usually be only microtones.
But the higher reed can be bent down towards the pitch of the lower.
As the distance between the pitches of the reeds in holes two and three are pretty wide (a minor third in hole two, and a major third in hole three) the reeds are very suggestible to pressure and mouth-shape.
There are three classes of beginner: those who can't get a sound out of hole two, those who can only play it bent and those who can't bend it to save their lives. It's all to do with how you habitually use your face/mouth muscles.
Getting no sound at all is also the point at which you are poised on reaching the full depth of a bend; your draw reed has given up, and your are trying to draw the blow reed, which, when played 'backwards' like this, will give a pitch a half-tone igher than it's natural pitch, which is what a full bend actually is; you are playing the opposite reed!
(note, 'overblowers; this is exactly what is happening in that technique, which is in fact no different to a customary bend)
If you are getting no sound, then see if you can get no sound on the other reeds.
Try blowing hole three, suddenly; stick the tip of your tongue in the hole, fill your cheeks with air, and now pull your tongue out. Now, when you can do that, suddenly, while still blowing, reverse your breath, trying to hold the mouth-shape you had while blowing.
There's a good chance you'l bend three.
Doing this on two is harder, but the principle is the same.
The distance between the reeds on two seem to me to be an optimum interval for note bending, so some pele do 'by accident'.
The distance between the reeds on three is further, and for many, it's harder to break the surface tenson, so to speak.
Some students pull it all the way down to the Ab (talking C harp here), some to A, some to Bb, and a lot nowhere.
Most students can get a reasonable note fro three, i my experience.
Of course, the other 'hard' bend that is discussed often, is hole ten, which, like two, is a minor third differnce.
Holes two and three are difficult for many BECAUSE of the fact that they can bend so far; that is why they are leant upon so much in blues playing.
Yikes! You're probably more confused than ever now.
>>> <peter_schwartz@xxxxxxxxxxx> 12/12/10 11:26 AM >>>
So I'm a beginner beginner.
I have a Marine Band D harmonica and a book by a guy named Marcos as instruction.
He has us going up and down the harmonica blowing and drawing.
Everything is very easy thus far, except...
When I try to draw on holes 2 and 3, I get this very dull sound, almost as if the air is partially blocked or the reeds aren't vibrating.
I tried the same thing on a few other harps I had laying around and got the same result.
This struck me as odd because all the other holes worked so easily. Why should those two be a problem?
I wrote to a more experienced person who said that these two holes are a problem when drawing. And he suggested I write to this list to ask for suggestions for overcoming this problem.
Nowhere in Marcos's book does he ever hint that these holes might be a problem, and yet they react VERY differently from all the others.
Any thoughts or suggestions would be very welcome.
Also self-study programs people like would be much appreciated. Just keep in mind I'm a rank beginner.
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