[Harp-L] needing diatonic advice

Richard Hunter rhunter377@xxxxx
Wed Nov 7 11:17:37 EST 2018

Mary wrote:
> I'm a beginner harmonica player & I'm working on Battle Hymn of the
Republic for a veteran's program. I can do it but I'm not sure if I should
tongue block completely to get single notes for the entire song or use 2 or
more notes for a fuller sound. How do you decide what sound(s) to make?

In 2001 I played The Star-Spangled Banner solo at the first conference held
in the USA after 9/11.  I began preparing for the performance three weeks
in advance.  I started with a pretty elaborate arrangement, and over the
next three weeks I removed most of the counterpoint in order to focus on
the melody.  The performance was ultimately very emotional for me and the
audience, not least because of the circumstances.

With songs that have a lot of emotion in them already, elaborate
arrangements are often beside the point.  Give them a clear melody with
emotion in the phrasing, and add harmonies or color if you like to
emphasize key points.  But make it easy for yourself: make sure that melody
sings out loud and strong, and all will be well.

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