Re: [Harp-L] Response to off list message from Jerry Scott re; overblowing

Bill, you say:"you focus all the breath on the blow reed on holes 1,4,5&6 (this is the overblow) and the draw reed on holes 7,9&10 ". Practical advice in one sense, but essentially incorrect.
You focus your BLOWN breath on the DRAW reed on holes 1,4,5,6 (or indeed holes 1-6 if you want the duplications of Ab and C) 
The object should be to block the blow reed so that the draw reed is forced to play its reverse pitch, which is a semitone higher than its normal pitch.
The same goes for the so-called overdraws. You block the draw reed so that the blow reed plays with the draw breath.
If one draw bends all the holes from 1-10, you get the following notes: C#, F, G#, C#, F (counting hole 5 as a non-bend hole) G#, C#, F, G# C# because you are playing the blow reeds
with a drawn breath, and each one plays a note a semitone higher than its blown pitch.
If one blow bends all holes from 1-10, you get: Eb, Ab, C, Eb, Gb, Bb, C, Eb, Gb, Bb; exactly a semitone up from the natural draw notes: D,G,B,D,F,A,B,D,F,A, because you are playing the draw reed with a blown breath.
The only difference between a so-called 'normal' bends and over-bends is that you can't approach the overbends gradually, or, to be more exact, the higher reed of each pair (the draw reed in holes 1-6 and the blow reed in 7-10 does not vibrate in sympathy with it's opposing partner (whether at all, or just not as much, I am uncertain; I suspect not at all)
When you play a 'normal' bend, the higher of each pair can be drawn down towards the pitch of the lower, because they are in closer sympathy; the blow 1 reed, C on a C harp has a drawn pitch of roughly C# or Db, which almost reaches the note that the draw reed can be flattened to (ie less than D) 
Any reed can be lowered in pitch with the natural breath direction. A single reed, without a partner (as on a valved harp) can be flattened. If it is an unvalved reed paired with one higher in pitch than itself, then the extent to which it can be flattened is miniscule, and it will cease to respond before it has descended more than a few microtones. 
Then, the opposing, higher, reed, whose reverse pitch is even further above its natural one, and is pretty much motionless, can be coaxed into life with the right embouchure; but it must be started from a motionless state, like jump starting a stalled car.
I prefer to refer to 'overbends' as 'single reed bends' which makes more sense to me.
Hey, you probably know this; by trying to write it all up, I'm getting it clearer in my own head! Thanx for reading.....

>>> Bill <bill.eborn@xxxxxxxxx> 22/12/2010 7:45 >>>
Response to off list message from Jerry Scott - the reply needed a digital ID which seemed horribly complicated, hence the response here.  If anyone wants to add to this please feel free, I'm in a bit of a rush to be frank as i have a christmas jam session to go to.

Overblowing is a technique for playing the missing notes on a diatonic harmonica.  Basically what happens is that you breathe in such a way as you focus all the breath on the blow reed on holes 1,4,5&6 (this is the overblow) and the draw reed on holes 7,9&10 (the overdraw).  The technique is very similar to what you use when you play a blow bend on the top octave, for the overdraw you study what you are doing there and apply it in reverse - it takes a while to get it but when you do, it's like riding a bike and you can't imagine life without it.  

The harmonica needs to be set up with the reeds gapped very low to the plate.  It probably does wear the reeds out quicker, although as you refine your technique this become less of a problem.  The technique was used on a recording of a tune called mean low Blues from the late 20s by Blues Birdhead but developed to an astonishing extent by Howard Levy.  Sebastien Charlier, Carlos Del Junco, and Frederic Yonnet are amongst the growing number of players who use the technique 

I hope this helps 


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