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Harmonica keys

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Kaleea 25 Aug 03 - 05:17 PM
PoppaGator 25 Aug 03 - 05:25 PM
GUEST,Russ 25 Aug 03 - 07:49 PM
Mark Clark 25 Aug 03 - 08:21 PM
Amos 25 Aug 03 - 08:32 PM
Les from Hull 26 Aug 03 - 09:16 AM
JedMarum 26 Aug 03 - 10:34 AM
JedMarum 26 Aug 03 - 10:45 AM
Kaleea 26 Aug 03 - 12:02 PM
Joe Offer 12 Nov 05 - 07:20 PM
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Subject: Harmonica keys
From: Kaleea
Date: 25 Aug 03 - 05:17 PM

A gracious "Howdy Fellow 'Catters!" from here in the Wild West. I could use some assistance in finding the correct Harmonica for the job for a gal in my little group. I was saying that I thought it would fit nicely with a particular song when one of the other galz brightened up & burst out with "Oh, I would just LOVE to play a harmonacle!" Therefore, not knowing if Col. Klink's monacle could aspire to make Music, I decided she was, perhaps, referring to an Harmonica. If one were singing a somewhat rockabillybluesish song in the key of G major (with the typical G7/C7/D7 chords) which is similar to the "Man of Constant Sorrow" of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" fame, which Harmonica in what key might one purchase? Bear in mind that the Harmonica player is not wanting to spend much $$. I have seen the Hohner Blues Harp in catalogs for about $20 & thought that was alot more than I had to pay for a good ole Marine Band Harp of about $3 when I was a teen a mere #$%*!ty years ago. OK, you may cease laughing at my geezerlyness now. Is there an inexpensive but not lousy Harmonica which would suffice? (isn't that a nice & tidy way to put things? Can't you just see the ads--"yes, folks, the Deluxe Acme whatchamacallit is the best inexpensive but not lousy whatchamacallit you might purchase for your loved ones!")
    Also, what simple maintenance would one need do after playing, other than slapping the thing upside down to get the excess "moisture" out? (Please don't bother with the gruesome side of this business as we don't want any fellow 'Catters to swoon from the details.)
    As always, "thank you kindly" to all of


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Subject: RE: Harmonica keys
From: PoppaGator
Date: 25 Aug 03 - 05:25 PM

You'd need a "C" harp to play "cross-harp" or blues-style in the key of G. I'm pretty sure that's the approach used for the song in question, even though it's nominally "country" and not by the strictest definition "blues."

I'm as shocked as you are if a basic non-chromatic mouth harp costs 20 bucks these days, but I wouldn't be surprised. That would mean that a full set, enough to play in any of the most common keys, would cost well over $100 -- bummer!


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Subject: RE: Harmonica keys
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 25 Aug 03 - 07:49 PM

All the harmonica players I jam with have multiple harps in various keys. None of them try to make do with a single "all-purpose" instrument.


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Subject: RE: Harmonica keys
From: Mark Clark
Date: 25 Aug 03 - 08:21 PM

For someone who “would just LOVE to play a harmonacle!” you might suggest that they spend some time with Harmonica Lessons.com, a site with lots of information, advice and a set of planned lessons to help learn. They have information on what harps are best to use and which are best to avoid. They also have a Terms and Definitions page that includes information on selecting harps of the right key, depending on which “position” you'll be using. PoppaGator’s good advice assumes the commonly used 2nd position but there are others.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Harmonica keys
From: Amos
Date: 25 Aug 03 - 08:32 PM

..but I think the tune takes a straight harp -- guess it depends on the version you are playing. The bluesy minor sound typical of a blues harp is cross-harp (the subdominant or fourth of the key being played in, such as A for blues in E and a C harp for blues in G). The major sound mor typical of, say, a cowboy harmonica tune is straight harp, same key as the song. Your aspiring harmonicalist will soon discover she/he wants one of each in G (a G harp and a C harp) and an A harp and possibly an E or D harp to be fully set up for most folkie encounters.

A


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Subject: RE: Harmonica keys
From: Les from Hull
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 09:16 AM

You would probably use a G harmonica for the type of sound you want. Cross-harp is great for blues work, but it's a bit specialised and of course you have to learn note bending technique.

On the subject of cost, try the Chinese harmonicas (Huang?). You can get them (in the UK at least) for about half the price of a Hohner, and I preferred them to that brand (although I haven't played either brand recently).


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Subject: RE: Harmonica keys
From: JedMarum
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 10:34 AM

Beginners will find playing "cross harp" easier. Cross harp means playing a fourth off the key of the song - so if you're playing a song in G, you use a cross harp in the key of C. Cross harp mean you draw out (suck) to play in the same scale as the key (G), blow out to play the 4 chord (C) and draw again on one or two holes to play the 5 chord (D7). It's easier then it sounds - in fact, playing cross harp it all sort of falls into place almost immediately, with these three chord songs, after just a little experimentation. Cross harp lets you learn the instrument, while actually getting some useful sounds by simply drawing in, or blowing out with little care as to where the notes are. You'll find those notes quickly with experimentation.

Straight harp requires work with the instrument to learn the scales and how they apply to the song.

Good harmonicas? Go on-line and nuy 'em. Find the cheapest price and buy the best Lee Oskar. The Blues Harps are poorly made, sound bad ad don't last. The reeds are easy to bend, and so inexperienced players can get a bluesy feel to their sound right away - but it's a short cut that ain;t worth it. The Marine Bands are much bettr sounding, but they do not last. Wood is NOT a good material for harmonicas. The new man made materials sound better and last longer (this was not the case 15 years ago, but the ones are great). Lee Oskars are the best. They sound great, they last forever and they can be taken apart, cleanned, repaired, even tuned! So spend $30 ...

OR -

Buy at Hohner Old Stand by for $6 from Elederly.com. Plastic comb, low low cost, if you don;t like it or it doesn't last more then a few months - buy a new one!!

As to care - well this is more of an issue then you might think! They do collect humidity, moisture, condensation and of course, spit. Give 'em a good suck when you're done! And a whack on the pants. If they build up stuff, you can soak 'em in water, wun htem under the faucet - then shake 'em out good. But remeber, this shortens their life quickly - especially if you have wooden comb (don;t get wood).

Anyway - try it out. It's easy to play a harmonica - it's not easy to play it well - but it's easy to get started and sound pretty good.

Come back t oMudcat with questions, if you have 'em.


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Subject: RE: Harmonica keys
From: JedMarum
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 10:45 AM

Amos has a point about straight harp - it might be that I would play that song straight - BUT if I'm right about your description, a rockabilly feel would probably work well with a bluesy scale - so cross harp would work well. And I repeat, cross harp is easier for a beginner to play something useful immediately (suck for G, blow for C and hit only the lowest note for D - you can't miss)!

I think Les is correct too. The Huang harps, made in China or the one I gave you from Elderly (maybe made by Huang) are probebly a good safe bet. They'll probably sound fine, for a while. She decide if she wants to learn to play, and become more serious. If so, then look at the Lee Oskars.


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Subject: RE: Harmonica keys
From: Kaleea
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 12:02 PM

Thanks, very much all! The only Harmonica I have now is very old Marine Band which I inherited from my Irish Grandad. I remember that played it all the time, all kinds of tunes, & sometimes when he played a lively jig, Granny danced for us on very rare occasions (which the old baptist circuit preacher NEVER allowed as Irish tunes & songs led to dancing, which led to the dance hall & drinking & therefore hell, which is why my aunts/ uncles/ cousins never were taught Irish dancing & many other Irish traditions!). I was ecstatic when my mother was the one out of 10 kids who got it & gave it to me! I took it out of it's pouch, took a breath & began to play, blow draw blow draw-- when a coughing fit came upon me. My dear Grandad had infused the strong taste of his chaw into the harp after decades of playing. I asked a harp playing friend to do whatever he voodoo he could do in cleaning it--to no avail. It is still a marvelous old harp which I have a cousin or someone play at ceilis & family get togethers.
    I decided to not only order a harp for my friend, but aslo a couple for myself! Since she has little experience with music other than singing, I decided it would help her if we learned together--and Harmonicalessons.com is just what a couple of geezerly future "Harmonaclists" need to jump start their careers. My only experience playing was decades ago, and since I am forever picking up old various instruments & fiddlin' around with them till I sorta pick it up, I just HAVE to go for it!
    Thanks again!    Kaleea


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Subject: Diatonic Harmonica Tuning Chart
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Nov 05 - 07:20 PM

I found this Diatonic Harmonica Tuning Chart at coast2coastmusic.com, and it was too good to pass up.
-Joe-

Note Layout Charts for Richter Tuned Major Diatonic Harmonicas

From lowest to highest in pitch are: G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C, Db, D, Eb, E, F, F#

Remember: Notes with sharps (#) or flats (b) can be written either way,
Ab=G#, Bb=A#, Db=C#, Eb=D#, and F#=Gb

Key of C

Blow

C

E

G

C

E

G

C

E

G

C

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

D

G

B

D

F

A

B

D

F

A

Key of Db (or C#)

Blow

Db

F

Ab

Db

F

Ab

Db

F

Ab

Db

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

Eb

Ab

C

Eb

F#

Bb

C

Eb

F#

Bb

Key of D

Blow

D

F#

A

D

F#

A

D

F#

A

D

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

E

A

Db

E

G

B

Db

E

G

B

Key of Eb

Blow

Eb

G

Bb

Eb

G

Bb

Eb

G

Bb

Eb

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

F

Bb

D

F

Ab

C

D

F

Ab

C

Key of E

Blow

E

Ab

B

E

Ab

B

E

Ab

B

E

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

F#

B

Eb

F#

A

Db

Eb

F#

A

Db

Key of F

Blow

F

A

C

F

A

C

F

A

C

F

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

G

C

E

G

Bb

D

E

G

Bb

D

Key of F#

Blow

F#

Bb

Db

F#

Bb

Db

F#

Bb

Db

F#

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

Ab

Db

F

Ab

B

Eb

F

Ab

B

Eb

Key of G

Blow

G

B

D

G

B

D

G

B

D

G

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

A

D

F#

A

C

E

F#

A

C

E

Key of Ab

Blow

Ab

C

Eb

Ab

C

Eb

Ab

C

Eb

Ab

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

Bb

Eb

G

Bb

Db

F

G

Bb

Db

F

Key of A

Blow

A

Db

E

A

Db

E

A

Db

E

A

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

B

E

Ab

B

D

F#

Ab

B

D

F#

Key of Bb

Blow

Bb

D

F

Bb

D

F

Bb

D

F

Bb

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

C

F

A

C

Eb

G

A

C

Eb

G

Key of B

Blow

B

Eb

F#

B

Eb

F#

B

Eb

F#

B

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Draw

Db

F#

Bb

Db

E

Ab

Bb

Db

E

Ab


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