Re: [Harp-L] Pucker and TB

And some of us integrate tongue blocking with puckering seamlessly, not in an either/or way.

Pucker by itself is a single point embouchure - you access single notes from a single point in your mouth, kind of like playing the piano with one finger.

Tongue blocking is often treated as an enhanced version of single point embouchure - you still access single notes from a single point, but add the rest of the mouth for slaps and pulls, and add the left side for splits.

You can also use tongue blocking for dual point embouchure - playing single notes out of both the right and left sides of your mouth, using both to play single note lines and even switching back and forth for leaps - this is usually called corner switching.

By putting pucker in the middle between the left and right corners of your mouth, you can have have three separate points of access to the holes on the harmonica.

I wrote a series of articles on multiple embouchure for the chromatic for They apply equally, with some adaptation, to diatonic. You can access them starting with the one titled "Left Field Embouchure" through my website at

Winslow Yerxa
President, SPAH, the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica
Producer, the Harmonica Collective
Author, Harmonica For Dummies, ISBN 978-0-470-33729-5
            Harmonica Basics For Dummies, ASIN B005KIYPFS
            Blues Harmonica For Dummies, ISBN 978-1-1182-5269-7
Resident Expert,
Instructor, Jazzschool Community Music School

From: Arthur Jennings <arturojennings@xxxxxxxxxx>
To: Mike Wilbur <mike@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 
Cc: "harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx" <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>; "philharpn@xxxxxxx" <philharpn@xxxxxxx> 
Sent: Sunday, June 14, 2015 7:41 AM
Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Pucker and TB

Depends how define "exclusively," I guess. There are certainly many good players who only tongue block for octaves and other splits. There is another group -- Joe Filisko, Sugar Blue, James Conway and more -- who tongue block 98.7% of the time and only pucker for the rare tongue articulated note.

> On Jun 14, 2015, at 7:04 AM, Mike Wilbur <mike@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> I think of  us as , tongue blocking - Puckerist's
> Or puckering- Tongue Blockers.
> No one is exclusively doing one or the other.
> Mike Wilbur
>> On Jun 14, 2015, at 8:45 AM, Rick Dempster <rickdempster33@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> I think
>> of the tongue block as "key board" and the "pucker" as "horn". in terms of
>> both
>> effective technique, and tone.
>> RD
>>> On 14 June 2015 at 22:29, Mike Wilbur <mike@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>>> That was a great explanation Phil
>>> Mike Wilbur
>>>> On Jun 13, 2015, at 11:58 PM, philharpn@xxxxxxx wrote:
>>>> The main advantage of using the tongue block method is that it
>>> facilitates the tongue-slap. The tongue-slap is a grace-note chord played
>>> before the single note on the right corner of the mouth. This technique
>>> causes the melody note to ring out -- because it is the highest pitched
>>> note of all the notes (the crunch of the grace-note chord) and the single
>>> note at the far right.  This means blow holes 1 2 3 are hit first as a
>>> grace note chord and shut off as soon as they are sounded followed by hole
>>> 4. To get a sense of this technique, simply play the  C scale starting on
>>> holes 4 - 7 and slapping the three-note chord (to the left) after every
>>> note -- blow or draw -- in the scale, ascending and descending.
>>>> The fake slap uses the pucker shape over three holes. It switches the
>>> widened pucker for a chord alternating with narrow pucker for center note.
>>> If the melody note is blow hole 4, the mouth is widened to play holes 3 and
>>> 5.
>>>> The main difference between these two slaps is that with the tongue
>>> slap  the highest pitched note (and loudest or most prominent) is the note
>>> at the far right. With the pucker method the highest pitched note is NOT
>>> the melody note; the melody note is the CENTER and tends to get overwhelmed
>>> by the notes on either side of it.
>>>> One advantage of the pucker slap is that it allows a slap when playing
>>> hole 2 -- because there is hole 1 to the left and hole 3 to the right to
>>> provide a chord slap.
>>>> This is not as effective playing hole 2 with the tongue block because
>>> only the 1 hole is available to the left of hole 2 and NOTHING is available
>>> to the right of hole 2.
>>>> The work-around for this lack of notes to the left of hole 4 is double
>>> Richter layout like Hohner's Steve Baker Special tuning which duplicates
>>> the first  three holes that bend so there is a low octave and regular
>>> octave of draw bending notes. This extra low octave adds a bit of spice to
>>> the sound, kind of like SB II.
>>>> Seydel offers this tuning as well  and  a Sololist Pro 12 Steel Four
>>> TImes Richter where for sets of holes like 1 2 3 Richter.
>>>> PS: The harmonica must be played right side up, low notes to left (NOT
>>> upside down) or all bets are off.
>>>> Hope this helps.
>>>> Phil
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: MundHarp <MundHarp@xxxxxxx>
>>>> To: tnysteph <tnysteph@xxxxxxxxx>
>>>> Cc: harp-l <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
>>>> Sent: Sat, Jun 13, 2015 6:33 am
>>>> Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Pucker and TB
>>>> Learn BOTH and interchange them... I do!
>>>> John "Whiteboy" Walden
>>>> Just now
>>>> In bonnie Scotland.
>>>> In a message dated 13/06/2015 02:20:30 GMT Daylight Time,
>>>> tnysteph@xxxxxxxxx writes:
>>>> I guess  some only pucker, others only tongue block. But some mix both
>>> into
>>>> their  playing. I know Ronnie Shellist does both. I am trying to do the
>>> mix
>>>> of the  two also. So my question Does anyone have any good practice tips?
>>>> Any tips to  jump started this mix?
>>>> There is a lot to learn with 10 little holes, lol. I  am trying.
>>>> Thanks for any help.
>>>> Tony Stephens
>>>> Sent from my  iPhone

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