Jamming with Harmonica tips

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by fred4321, Sep 29, 2019.

  1. fred4321

    fred4321 Tele-Meister

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    Hi all,
    I wasn't sure where to post this, so if its in the wring spot, please forgive me...

    I have a friend who has a collection of harps and we get together occasionally jamming with some blues riffs/strumming and his harp.
    Hit and miss sometimes, but when we get it right its great.
    I need to understand how do we get it right and other times wrong.

    I strum a major blues progression is say A for example.
    We experiment with different harmonica keys till we hit it.

    Works some of the time.
    I have read some of the previous threads from the past, and my theory is not strong.

    Could anyone suggest strumming patterns in keys in A or G and which key harmonica we need to use over it?
    We are practicing "Heart of Gold'.
    cheers
     
  2. T-Bone

    T-Bone Tele-Holic

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    Assuming that you want to play blues.
    Best place to start is for the guitar to play a straight 12 bar blues progression,
    strictly rhythm.

    1 1 1 1 4 4 1 1 5 4 1 5 (repeat)

    The harp key will be a fifth up (aka the key of the 4 chord), so for blues in E, use an A harp. For blues in G use a C harp.

    Once you get a groove going you can swap on rhythm and solo parts.
     
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  3. T-Bone

    T-Bone Tele-Holic

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    For a Neil Young song like Heart of Gold, easiest would be to use a chart like found on several web sites ( search “chords and lyrics” [song name].

    Harp for Neil is usually in the same key as the song. Get the harmonica player to practice playing along with the song on YouTube.
     
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  4. fasteddie42

    fasteddie42 Tele-Holic

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    I think it's called "cross harp"?

    You use a harp that a fifth up from the key the guitar is playing.
     
  5. lil scotty

    lil scotty Tele-Meister

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    You either play “straight,” where the key of the harp is the key of he song. Like Neil Young tunes, as mentioned above. For blues you play “cross harp,” also mentioned above. Only thing I’d add to what’s been said is when playing cross harp there’s more inhale than exhale. It’s easier to bend notes on an inhale. Google “cross harp chart” or something like that, so you don’t have think too hard on which key harp to use. T-bone nailed the core of everything I’ve said. I’ve been playing more shuffles and cross harp lately and I love it.
     
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  6. stax

    stax Tele-Afflicted

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    Don't forget 3rd position where you can play more in a minor key, good example would be using an A harmonica for a blues like the thrill is gone played in Bm.
     
  7. lil scotty

    lil scotty Tele-Meister

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    Uncharted territory for me! Thank you!
     
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  8. Deaf Eddie

    Deaf Eddie Friend of Leo's

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    Pardon me, but common blues cross-harp technique is using the harmonica of the key FOURTH up from the key of the song.

    As said, key of E, use and A harp; key of G use a C harp, for key of C use an F harp, etc.

    You had the keys right, but the scale-degree wrong. That's a fourth - not a fifth - up.
    Same as the IV chord in the song.
     
  9. fred4321

    fred4321 Tele-Meister

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    Hi Guys,
    Thanks for the wisdom. I reckon I have it sussed.
    I'm getting my head around the I,I V, V thing a lot better now. Looking forward to the jam.
    The minor comment clinched it.
     
  10. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    As a harp player and a guitarist, I have some tips:

    -DON’T just play hard-hitting twelve-bar-blues. The idiots that strum the “junt-ja-JUNT-ja-junt-ja-JUNT-ja-junt-ja-JUNT-ja-junt....” ad nauseum might be in the right key, but it ain’t adding nothing to the performance.

    -DO listen to the first three Fabulous Thunderbirds albums. Copy what Jimmie Vaughan does. Do this a lot. Then do it some more.

    -DO give space to the harp player the same way you would another guitarist or keyboard player or any other soloist...if you don’t know how to do this, you need to learn how anyway.
     
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  11. fred4321

    fred4321 Tele-Meister

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    Had a listen to the Fabulous Thunderbird's and Jimmy Vaughan-forgot all about them - thanks!
    The Thunderbirds first album Girls Go Wild (1979) is great!
     
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  12. MrClint

    MrClint Tele-Meister

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    Heart of Gold is in Em, which is the relative minor of GMaj. You would use a GMaj harmonica and play straight harp. For the most part you blow out for the Em and G chords and Draw in for C, and mix it up/slide around on D. This is an easy as pie song to just vamp on harmonica. It will refuse to sound bad following the above pattern.


    I play harmonica and guitar. Here's a track I recorded in F#, I didn't have a harp handy to play straight, cross or slant harp so I used a Gmaj harmonica that happens to have three notes in the F# scale, and all are draw notes:
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
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  13. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I do it in electric and acoustic bands.
    I have many harps (Lee Oskar, Suzkis, blues harps, marine)

    Ya use the diatonic method, so 2nd.

    harp.JPG
     
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  14. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    This is a good thread for me right now, and that chart will be very helpful. I just dug out my pouch full of harmonicas, because carpal-tunnel surgeries are knocking out my guitar playing for a few weeks. I thought I'd work up some harp parts for the songs I know, each in its key. I have harps stamped A, B, C, F, and G. There might be more around somewhere.

    It's been a long time since I played harmonica much, and I never went very far as a student of the instrument, though I've been aware of the "cross to the 4th" thing for a long time. So far I've only made annoying noises.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
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  15. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Always make the harp player sing.
    It's the only way to get them to stop playing the damn thing.
     
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  16. rockymtnguitar

    rockymtnguitar Tele-Holic

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    I've been using the attached chart from the online instructor Tomlin Leckie for a warmup and practice. It's been useful. I've also been using Twinkle Twinkle from the Harmonica for Dummies book. Those have been good exercises to get used to moving around on the harp and making sounds that might sort of be recognizable as real tunes.
     

    Attached Files:

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  17. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    :lol:(raising right hand)

    I swear to play my harmonicas responsibly, at least in public performance.


    Edit: if I ever learn how, that is.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
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  18. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Progress report: no progress at all so far.
     
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  19. fred4321

    fred4321 Tele-Meister

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    Hi all,
    Used the charts and advice. Great road-map to get the jam going- went well.
    cheers
     
  20. P-Nutz

    P-Nutz Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I actually think harmonica tips go better with gravy ... jamming is better with something more fruity, like banjos ...
     
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