[Harp-L] Second position, cross harp
Mon Aug 19 23:18:13 EDT 2019
Major scales sound like do re mi fa sol la ti do
The C major scale
C D E F G A B C
If we were to number those notes, C is 1, D is 2. ETC. G is 5.
If we started in the key of C and changed to the key of G, we would be
going up a fifth.
There are 12 notes on a piano before it begins to repeat. If you put those
notes in a circle,it would look like a clock.
Put C in the midnight spot, G in the one o'clock spot, D in the 2 o'clock
Here is a horizontal representation of that circle
C G D A E B F# C# Ab Eb Bb F
Every time you move right, or clockwise, you are moving up a fifth. They
call this circle the circle of fifths.
Play Oh Suzannah on a C harp starting on 4 blow. It happens to be in the
key of C. Feel the pattern. 4 blow, 4 draw, 5 blow and so on.
Now pick up a G harp and do the same pattern. Notice the song melody is
still there, but it is lower. Now it is in the key of G. That is
essentially what keys are about, different ways to play a melody based on
how high and low the notes are. Now, you COULD play OH Suzannah in the key
of G and play it very high in pitch. but we are talking about being in a
Because you are moving your mouth in the same way, you call playing in the
key of C on a C harp first position and you also call playing in the key of
G on a G harp first position. You hold your mouth in the same position to
play Oh Suzannah in the key that has the same name as the harp.
Here are the notes on a keyboard:
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B
C# can be called Db and so on. Every note has more than one name, but
we're going to use the names above.
On a C harp, 4 blow is C, 4 draw is D and 5 blow is E.
Therefore in ANY key, Oh Suzannah starts on the note with the same name as
the key, ascends two keyboard notes and then again ascends two keyboard
So in the key of G, Oh Suzannah's first three notes are G A B. On a G
harp, 4 blow is G, 4 draw is A and 5 blow is B.
But just because I am holding a harmonica named C, does not mean I am
restricted to playing in the key of C. Once you learn all of your bends
and overblows, every harmonica has a complete 38 note range (and a 39th if
you can raise 10 overdraw).
Just like a piano, any instrument that has all of the notes can play in any
So stop thinking of it as a harp in the key of C and start thinking of it
as a harp named C that has the potential to play in any key.
Since OH Suzannah in the key of G begins with G A B, if I can play those
notes on a C harp, I will be playing a harmonica named C in the key of G.
2 draw, 3 draw double bend and 3 draw are the first three notes of OH
Suzannah in the key of G on a C harp.
If you were to put your finger on C on the Circle of Fifths and move
clockwise once, you would land on G. If you counted, C1, G2 you are
counting the position names on the C harp. Playing in the key of G on a C
harp is therefore called second position.
If you put your finger on G on the Circle of Fifths and moved clockwise
once, you would land on D. If you counted G1, D2, you are counting the
position names on the G harp. Playing in the key of D on a G harp is
therefore called second position.
To play Oh Suzannah in the key of D on a G harp, aka second position, you
would move your mouth in the same way you play in the key of G on a C harp,
aka second position. 2 draw, 3 draw double bend, 3 draw. To know the
names of the notes, look at the 12 notes on the keyboard and find the key
note, D. Ascend two notes to E and again two notes to F#. OH Suzannah in
the key of D on a G harp, second position, uses the notes D E F# and are
located in 2 draw, 3 draw double bend and 3 draw, respectively.
Hope that helps.
On Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 9:41 PM Robert Hale <ynfdwas at xxxxx> wrote:
> It's that time again:
> With all the ways that I explain it, my student is just not sure what it
> What is your best summary of second position playing?
> In other words, what explanation is the most successful for a beginner?
> Robert Hale
> Serious Honkage in Arizona
> Robert at xxxxx
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