[Harp-L] Questions on Bending/OB/OD and Scales/Music/TAB

Steve Hayes bigbandrhythm@xxxxx
Mon Apr 24 00:07:49 EDT 2017

“In the Western world, we tend to disdain quarter tones.” – Michael Rubin

Most rules are meant to be broken, and upon listening to Michael Rubin’s lesson 13 on YouTube, I hear what bending draw five is good for. It is expressive. It has its place.

How can I tell if a player is any good? I think good intonation is important. It is a struggle for me, particularly accurately bending holes 2 and 3. Among musicians, I find there is a prejudice against harp players, for so many reasons: bad intonation is one. 

Playing in tune is important, but slurs and slides are part of expressive playing, so bending draw 5 can make sense, but usually it is a grace note - a slur to 5 draw, not usually a note by itself. 

If you can play in tune, and choose not to, that is different from playing out of tune. Go for it. 

1 2 3” 3’ 3 4+ 4’ 4 3 4+ 4 3 2 2+ 1 2 2’ 2”

From: Michael Rubin 
Sent: Sunday, April 23, 2017 7:01 PM
To: Steve Hayes 
Cc: Leonard Schwartzberg ; mailto:harp-l at xxxxx 
Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Questions on Bending/OB/OD and Scales/Music/TAB

If I had to stop hearing the sound of 5 draw bend because of fear of being out of tune or breaking a harp, might as well kill me now.  That's one of my favorite sounds on the harp.  There are plenty of quartertones on the harp and plenty of cultures and styles of music that embrace quartertones.

Michael Rubin


On Sun, Apr 23, 2017 at 8:42 PM, Steve Hayes <bigbandrhythm at xxxxx> wrote:

  Many tongue-blockers pucker when bending. Try everything and do what is comfortable.

                 Harmonica TAB (1+ 2 2'', etc. as per music)
  Yes, this is common with publishers and many teachers and has the advantage of using ASCII characters and being compact on the page when annotating written music.

  Um,... Bending draw 5 may be considered bluesy or soulful by some, but you won't be in tune with anybody else. There isn't a note there. If you are going to bend something, bend in tune with something.

  When I blow out a reed, it is usually because I'm trying to hit a note that isn't there--this includes trying to draw bend 5, or trying to overblow hole 6 and mistakenly hitting hole 7 instead.

  Which harp?
  I lay my harps out in cycle of 4ths order..
  A D G C F Bb Eb Ab Db F# B E
  2nd position is the harp following the harp for 1st position (major or minor). 3rd is next, then 4th, 5th, 6th. 12th is the one before 1st position.

  So, if I want to play in D or Dm, I would try a G harp in 2nd position, a C harp in 3rd, an A harp in 12th, a D harp in 1st, etc.

  You sound like you already play an instrument. To me this means the tones are already in your head and you won't be just breathing in and out through a harp hoping to get lucky and sound OK. I suspect you'll learn fast.

  Have fun. 

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