[Harp-L] Is Howard Levy the most technically advanced harmonica player?
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- Subject: [Harp-L] Is Howard Levy the most technically advanced harmonica player?
- From: michael rubin <michaelrubinharmonica@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 5 May 2010 12:42:19 -0500
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I cannot find the email but someone said something to the effect of
"No one would argue that Howard is the most technically advanced
harmonica player on the planet" and I felt the challenge.
What is technique?
To me it is being able to manipulate the harmonica into physically
producing a sound in a way that shows a high level of mastery.
What are Howard's technical strengths?
Good pitch control
Clean overbows and bends
The fast runs he does by ascending while blowing three holes then
desceding while drawing back two holes then ascending while blowing up
three holes ad infinitum.
The bend vibrato
tongue blocking double stops for octaves, drone and counterpoint playing.
Slight bending of overblows for inflections and half step movements.
Vibrato during overblows
Wah wah hand muting
Use of a drinking cup for wah wah hand muting
Please feel free to add to the list.
As far as I am concerned, living diatonic players like James Cotton,
Rick Estrin, Kim Wilson, Joe Filisko, Charlie Musselwhite, Charlie
McCoy, Gruenling, Ricci, Del Junco, Michalek, Power, Gazell and many
others equal or surpass Levy's technical ability. They may not use
the same techniques that Levy does, but the amount of techniques they
have mastered are equal or greater than Levy's amounts. If, as i've
listed for Howard's strengths, pleasing tone is technical ability,
many of these players are also equal or greater than Levy.
In my opinion, what Levy really seems to have done was be the
journeyman for overblows. Although there were many people who played
overblows before Howard, he really brought it to the attention of the
greater harmonica community and made a whole generation rethink the
chromatic possibilities of the diatonic harmonica.
I also think Levy has an exceptionally high understanding of music
theory and how he can use it to play well in all 12 positions.
I also think Levy is a very musical person and that his ideas are
often very enjoyable and can fit in a variety of musical styles. He
is also very good at unusual time signatures.
Clearly Levy is also a very giving teacher and person and I feel
blessed that he is in my world. But is he the most technically
advanced harmonica player on the planet? Technically, no.
Please forgive me.
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