[Harp-L] Harp playing by musicians not considered harmonica players

christer.molkom@xxxxx christer.molkom@xxxxx
Thu Jun 4 03:03:36 EDT 2020

I just thought I'd like to add my two cents about Dylan's harp.
It's true that he used to play a lot of 1st position, but he also played a number of his most well-known songs
in 2nd position. Here's a few examples: Baby Let Me Follow You Down, Don't Think Twice, Subterranean Homesick Blues, 
She Belongs To Me, It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry, Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, Visions Of Johanna,
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight. Gospel Plow on his first album is a great lesson in rack-harp chugging.
He used 4th position a few times: All Along The Watchtower and Hurricane.
For the last decade at least he has been playing cross-harp pretty much exclusively, on records and, especially, live.
The technical aspect doesn't interest me as much as what his playing dowa for the songs. I love the Sonny Boys, 
the Walters, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Jesse Fuller, Sonny Terry and a whole bunch of players, living or dead.  
I agree with Ronnie and Michael. 
>----Ursprungligt meddelande----
>Från : autothreads at xxxxx
>Datum : 2020-06-02 - 19:10 ()
>Till : michaelrubinharmonica at xxxxx
>Kopia : harp-l at xxxxx
>Ämne : Re: [Harp-L] Harp playing by musicians not considered harmonica players
>I deliberately didn't mention Dylan because so many harp enthusiasts 
>don't like his "sloppy" first position playing and I didn't want to get 
>into that particular debate. Since you brought Bob up, though, I'll say 
>that his "two note solos" on the electric guitar also get criticized, 
>but after more than 60 years of playing guitar himself, along with 
>having played with many great guitarists like Mike Bloomfield, he's 
>actually a pretty competent finger picking guitar player as can be heard 
>on the album of folk standards he released a while back. Can he pick 
>like Jorma Kaukonen, no, but then Jorma will tell you how much he 
>respects Dylan as a musician.
>The same is true of Dylan's harmonica playing. People mistakenly think 
>he can't play very well just because he doesn't do typical cross harp. 
>I've seen the guy play 2nd position blues with a cupped mic live, and 
>there's no doubt he knows his way around the harmonica. He just decided 
>years ago to play idiosyncratically, most of the time in first position, 
>and created his own sound on the instrument that fits and serves his 
>music well. It's popular enough that a bunch of great musicians from 
>Neil Young to Tom Petty have imitated that style whether harp purists 
>like it or not.
>I think a story about the Highway 61 Revisited album's recording sheds 
>some perspective. When Bloomfield showed up at the session, Dylan told 
>him that he didn't want him to play "any of that B.B. King" stuff 
>because he was going after the sound he wanted, not some curated and 
>archived blues.
>On 6/2/2020 11:29 AM, Michael Rubin wrote:
>> Harp players often conceptualize good harmonica playing by control of 
>> the technical aspects of the harp.  I prefer musicality, which can be 
>> defined by
>> 1. a control of the contrasts of music.  Loud, quiet.  Long short.  
>> Legato, staccato.  High low.  single notes, chords, double stops.
>> 2.  More ethereal ideas such as feeling, soul, emotion. They are 
>> harder to pin down.
>> 3.  A sense of timing.
>> Bob Dylan gives me more pleasure than most of the harmonica players in 
>> the world.
>> On Tue, Jun 2, 2020 at 10:01 AM Ronnie Schreiber 
>> <autothreads at xxxxx <mailto:autothreads at xxxxx>> wrote:
>>     I was listening to Those Were The Days, the boxed set of all of
>>     Cream's
>>     official releases. Their first album in particular has a lot of Jack
>>     Bruce's harmonica and Bruce's playing isn't half bad. Sure, he may
>>     not
>>     have some of the technical chops of full time harp players but his
>>     tasteful playing still reflects the fact that he was a world-class
>>     musician.
>>     It seems to me that some harmonica enthusiasts tend to diminish the
>>     harmonica playing of musicians like Bruce, Robert Plant, or Mick
>>     Jagger,
>>     as not serious harmonica players, but it should be pointed out
>>     that they
>>     were good enough players to blow harp with Cream, Led Zeppelin and
>>     the
>>     Rolling Stones.
>>     Ronnie Schreiber
>>     The Electric Harmonica Co.
>>     http://www.harmonicaster.com

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