[Harp-L] 4th position

Richard Hunter rhunter377@xxxxx
Thu Oct 25 16:58:01 EDT 2018

Mick Zaklan wrote:
>   When I studied briefly with Howard Levy in the 80's, he was teaching the
>standard "Autumn Leaves" in 4th.  And also "Summertime".  When I worked in
>bands, I did "Moondance" and "Work Song" in 4th.  I always thought "Take 5"
>was very workable in that position also.
 >  At the SPAH blues jams, I usually use a G harp in the key of E several
>times during an evening for regular non-minor blues tunes.  Or a low F harp
>in D, a low Eb harp for C, and an Ab harp for F.

I happen to prefer 5th position to 4th, and have been using the former
frequently lately.  The second harp solo on my song "Make the Noise You
Came to Make" from my record "The Lucky One" is played in 5th position on a
C harp (key of E minor).  You can hear it at store.cdbaby.com/richardhunter.
The song switches from E minor to E major on the first solo, and I played
that one on an A harp in second position.

I prefer 5th to 4th because 4th position requires a double bend on the 3
draw reed to produce the tonic note A on a C harp), which is a pretty
important note for most songs.  It's not easy to get that double bend in
tune with the right timbre (*ahem* "Ode to Joy Challenge"...).

5th position is great for minor blues where all the changes are minor, but
my first choice for that situation remains a Natural Minor harp in second
position.  Certainly you get a lot more chord variations out of the Natural
Minor.  However, blues players tend to use gear that turns big chords into
mush (I'm looking at you, Green Bullet), so it's understandable that the
chording advantages of a Natural Minor are less attractive to amped blues

Regards, RIchard Hunter

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Author, "Jazz Harp" (Oak Publications, NYC)
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