There seems to be a lot of importance placed these days on the use overblows. Is the search for acquiring this technique deflecting harp players away from getting down the basics of harp technique or should it be considered another valuable part of harp work that should be incorporated into practice at an early stage?
In this example I'm playing in the key of C and employing 3 overblows. Is there an argument for using 2 harps in this piece as was done in the original, i.e C, then F in the second part instead of using overblows.
With the various options available to players in terms of equipment, instruction, approaches, players should try a variety of approaches and see what works best for them. It will likely change and evolve over time.
My current preference is non-valved, non-Richter tuned harps with consistent blow-draw low-high reed placement throughout the harp and overblows when useful.
If the player tries different approaches, records these then listens to the results, they can make their own assessments based on their own likes/dislikes/experience.
Often, it seems to me, we spend too much time working on our weaknesses rather than fully developing our unique strengths.
Last Edited by on Nov 06, 2010 12:55 PM
Bring a retired blind man who's good at persuasion & tango to test drive a sports car, get in a high speed persuit while he's at the wheel, and just hold your harp straight up in the air! Continue to concentrate proper breathing of course :P .
Or this one, have you tried planting you marine bands to grow a marine band tree? They said I was crazy but after all these years I see sprouts! I see sprouts darnit!
"I play the harmonica. The only way I can play is if I get my car going really fast, and stick it out the window." - Stephen Wright
Pennsylvania - H.A.R.P. (Harmonica Association 'Round Philly)
I switch harps on a couple pieces. One piece I play in C, D and E. Another one I've just started switching back and forth between 1st and 2nd position on with a G and C to get a sweeter 1st position sound on the chorus. Now that I think about it, the one in three keys is a no bend Celtic sounding thing that maybe I should use it to practice on my chromatic. I do some blow bending but I don't overblow with any consistency.
*... or should it be considered another valuable part of harp work that should be incorporated into practice at an EARLY STAGE?*
I think that is the important part of the question...starting too early with overblows CAN be so frustrating that you tend to give up harping altogether...you can´t drive a ferrari when you`re still learning to handle a bobby-car ---------- Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life. (Jean Paul)
Very funny guys, but my vote has to go to Honkin's 'Men who stare at harps' which made me laugh out loud :) I have done that many a time, just staring accusingly at it thinking 'why won't you cooperate' haven't I always treated you well, I don't eat before playing, then afterwards I wipe you down with a soft cloth and tuck you in all snug in your nice little case and this is the thanks I get!!
@ Johnnie, Nate and Diletto. Thanks for pulling the thread back into place, very interesting guys.
I should add that I don't regret for one minute learning the rudiments of overblowing and I am just in the foothills of a very large mountain at the moment.
Other fruits from trying to learn this technique have been the need to open my harps up for the very first time and adjust them to overblow a bit easier, which in turn has made my harps much more responsive generally.
Also the value of even sticking just one required overblow in a melody which would be awkward to do, to say the least using 2 harps.
From a personal perspective I would still prefer the sound of switching harps say to slide off a draw bend into adjacent draw notes, than overblow into adjacent draw notes. For example in the little solo in Canned Heats' 'on the road again' I prefer the sound of coming off that top draw note down the harp (I'm aware that Alan Wilson raised the tuning on the 6 draw to acheive this)than how I play it by coming off the 6 overblow.
As someone who has been playing for a little while I can easily see how you could become obsessed with learning this technique at the expense of necessary advancement in other perhaps more straightforward and useful techniques.
Anyhow I for one am glad I didn't have the distraction of being aware of these pesky little OB's when I first started playing.
I take responsibility for veering things off the tracks. It was my immature response to seeing precisely the same thread for the third time in three months. I participated sincerely and avidly the last two times and watched both threads--if memory serves--become irritable. This time I thought I'd try a different approach: playful. But somebody really should search out and post links to those old threads, since they'd answer the OP's question.
Agreed, the fruit can be from working on and understanding the instrument, as well as getting it more responsive. OB's are just notes that are hard to get right and so are a bunch of more traditional techniques. OB pros are almost always limited in their TB technique. How many can TB bends with excellent intonation and within melody lines? How important is it? The pursuit of traditional gets in the way too.
Last Edited by on Nov 07, 2010 3:55 AM
What's that...? I'm confused.. have we surpassed the hot topic of overblows. Well I'll be damned... :)
I agree with Adam, though. There has been quite a lot of discussion on overblows... So feel free to use the forum search if you want to know how to do them, the pros and cons, and this communities history with this topic...
Of course, if there are still unanswered questions, please continue posting here (but leave these old threads dormant... :).
Whatever the topic, every single post can be used to unite and share or to devide and alienate. Let's try to stay with the former one... :). Peace.
To be honest, I think hitting draw bends with good intonation is a lot harder than overblowing. I'm quite frankly a little fed up with the overblow debate. Overblows exist, they are a reality. Use them just like any other technique. You don't see people debating endlessly over weather use of harmonics on guitar is a useful technique. I personally think the endless debate is a bit silly.
sammy, the problem is, that new members ask themselves exactly the same question that we as a community have asked our selves in the past. All subjects, especially the important ones, surface - and surface again..
As long as everybody's cool and calm, and friendly to each other, I see no harm in talking about overblows, TB, custom harps, or whatever...
If you don't want to participate in a thread or a discussion, nobody forces you too. Everybody should be able to discuss on this forum whatever harprelated subject they may like. I don't think it's fair to regurgitate our negative energy infront of someone who frankly, has nothing to do with it.
The topic title is to overblow or not to overblow, which does suggest divide, but greys actual questions were really about priioritizing pathways to learning. They were good questions and he seems to have answered them. My points, after agreeing with grey, were to suggest that the same learning issues will emerge regardless of the path(s) you choose (=unite). Searching topic history is always a good suggestion.
German, crazy thing trying to communicate, online no less. I did initially read your earlier reply -right after mine- as questioning whether I was being divisive. I told myself to shut up 2 or 3 times before I couldn't let it go. By then it was easy to simplify clarification and respond better. For me shut up works. I know Im a card carrying TB purist and I figure its because its what I really can do. Meanwhile Im chasing the JR method. OB's won't get in my way, the quality of my harps do though.
Just a little plug aimed at anyone who likes (or doesn't mind) digging through old threads...
In my thread-thread-thread (click on the link for the Thread Organizer in my signature) I'm trying to find the best threads on a bunch of categories. You are free to add links in that thread. For instance if someone wanted to find a bunch of threads about Topic X, you can just make a post on the Thread-Thread-Thread with the links and what category they belong in. I'll create a thread for the links then, make sure they are HTMLized, and add a link to that thread in the Thread Organizer. :)
@ Littoral I tongue block 100% of the time now because it seems to me the most relaxed embouchure. Lip pursing always involves some tension in the lips to form the embouchure. With my tongue ON the harp I feel my bends can be more accurate because I am using the back part of my throat/tongue to bend instead of trying to bend elsewhere. As for overblows, doing them tongue blocking now feels like just the slightest movement. I noticed that A LOT of lip pursing overblowers FORCE more air to get the overblow to come out. I think TB overblows help prevent this by forcing one to perform overblows and OB bends from the same position as bending.
I know Adam posted recent youtube vids talking about legato OB tongue blocked. That's something I have been working on kinda.
MAL: That's some very nice playing, and if you are indeed doing all that TB'd, you'll understand why I qualified my statements as I did. I'm getting more careful in my old age! Somebody is always coming along and surprising me.
Thanks for the feedback on this thread. I am a relatively new but enthusiastic contributor and I started this thread in good faith and thought I'd brought a different perspective to the subject i.e as Littoral elequently summed it up 'prioritizing pathways to learning' and the case of using 2 harps in different keys where applicable to get perhaps a better sound than using overblows on one harp.
I think took the banter in good part and joked about it. I like the fact that you can have a laugh here as well as learn.
I haven't tried to TB in earnest yet other than octaves but I am really interested in the technique. I love the percussive sound and tone of the style. As I have just started playing harp again after a really long lay-off I am genuinely interested in everything about the harp and all the myriad styles and techniques.
Although I have my preferences, I'm not into bigging up one technique over the next, everything is useful.
I didn't mean to be divisive btw in choosing the thread title, It's sometimes difficult to accurately summarise the topic in a title.
Greyowl: Thanks for your original inquiry and genial approach. The subject of overblows--and dear to my heart it is!--has been treated exhaustively in several earlier threads, and I wasn't joking when I said that they had gotten irritable.
One thread, entitled simply "Overblows?", began with an OP who stated: "Overblows suck." Here's that thread:
The problem with overblows is that it's like the ring in LOTR. Some people learn it and stay cool, like Frodo. Others learn it and become weird, sweaty, creepy types you can't turn your back on, like Gollum.
MAL - You're the first tongue blocker I've ever heard that sounds like a pucker player.
I listened/watched your video a few times and I'm still finding myself skeptical that you are getting that kind of clarity tongue blocking. Your tone and clarity are something my ear directly equates with someone who plays with a pucker embrochure.
The only player I've spent considerable time around is Dan Gage and he plays tongue blocked pretty much all the time. The difference between his pucker and tongue block is very distinguishable to me. I guess you're that adept at the style that it's undetectable.
Sorry if I sound like I'm hating. I assure you, it is pure admiration!
@ ridge I started playing pucker and became comfortable but I really do not like have to "flex" the muscles to play and I felt I couldn't get the harmonica in my mouth enough so I tried tongue blocking and it took a while to become comfortable, about 2-3 months. I do not think TB or LP is superior to each other, it's all down to what one prefers in the feel of an embouchure. I am kind of a stickler for "efficiency" in that I am simply too lazy to bring the harmonica away from my mouth and tighten my lips to play single notes and then open it up again to TB. I just keep my mouth open the whole time, tone or anything else be damned, all I care is how it feels to me. I had no reservations as too "TB overblows are harder" I had never heard that so I took my overblows from LP and just transposed that. The one question I had was "how to articulate when I have the tongue on the harp?" Most of the LP arguments I hear are that the tongue is free to tongue fast passages. One thing I am working on now (to rid LP from my playing) is to get my "glottal stops" very fast. Franz Chmel is probably the greatest virtuoso of "glottal stops" and he plays everything tongue blocked and VERY fast and CLEAN. I think anything can be done it just requires practice and an open mind.
Every articulation in this video is done by "glottal stops" which are basically very quick coughing cause the tongue is on the harp. When playing single notes this allows the mouth to open off the harp as well to release excess air.
another stupid (?) question on overblows...it´getting bettr day by day...but I observe that sometimes after an overblow the draw-reed in that whole sounds like being stuck in the slot or something...sometimes also those right and/or left of it...what happened and how to avoid that? ---------- Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life. (Jean Paul)
Last Edited by on Mar 11, 2011 3:54 AM
I never learned to OB, although I am able to get around on the diatonic harp with reasonable proficiency in 5 positions which allows me to play a variety of material even without OBs. And i suppose if learned to OB I could play a wider variety of material.
I've got nothing against OBs and I'm certainly not critical of those who OB. However, I do get somewhat amused when a player is obsessing about being able to play this OB or that OB but says that the 3 hole hole full step draw bend is a difficult note to play. It seems to me that being able to hit all the available bends (or at least the draw bends) with reasonable accuracy is fundamental to good harmonica technique and fundamental competence on the instrument should be any player's first priority.
To address what brought this post back to page 1...your gaps are too tight. If all you've done is gap the harp, there are other mods that can make the reed more efficient and ob friendly while not choking. ---------- Mike Quicksilver Custom Harmonicas Updated 2/24/11
I totally agree with hvyj. The draw bends on the first four holes are a must.
I started adding positions 4,5,6 to see what they have to offer in a blues context and where overbends fit in. I know I know...expand yourself by playing other genres. I have but would rather spend my time on the blues.
So, I started learning the blues scale in positions 1,2,3,4,5,6. THey all have something unique to offer and ALL require at least one overbend to play the blues scale over the complete 10 hole harp.
Just my thoughts and opinions on positions for blues using the blues scale on 10 hole diatonic.
1st....may be the toughest for some, but a great training tool....4 overblows required, two 1/2 step draw bends, and 3 blow bends. A lot of players past and present play mean blues in 1st but omit the second octave.
2nd...6 overblow and 7 overdraw make it very cool to be able to play the low end licks we know so well in the upper octave. Same notes as 3 draw 1/2 step bend and 4 draw 1/2 step bend.
3rd...IMHO..the best position for blues if you are not an overbender. 9 overdraw is the one overbend in the blues scale which is not used much anyway.
4th....1 and 4 overblow are need to play the blues scale. Fun position to play in...every unbent blow note is in the blues scale.
5th...another great positon for non overbenders. You can get by without using the 6 ob and the octaves and splits are way cool in 5th.
6th...good practice, but I don't prefer it in the blues. 5 ob needed for blues scale.
It is cool not needing to switch harps. Try a C harp in 5th to ZZ Tops LeGrange and when the band changes keys use the same C harp in first.
i am not great at overblows or overbends, but my work on those has led to improvements in my control on other bends, particularly the blow bends, so even if you don't use them, they might help you in other areas