beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > bends in music
bends in music
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42 posts
Aug 06, 2017
10:48 AM
I've downloaded the music for Gershwin's "Summertime" for a G harp.It also has tabs with it which show a three draw bend, but I cannot see anything in the music that would define a bend.
So my question is how are bends shown or defined in written music.
By the way it's in third position in a minor apparently.

Last Edited by knight66 on Aug 06, 2017 10:51 AM
4875 posts
Aug 06, 2017
3:02 PM
They are just notes, so no special annotations.
(There are some different approaches to writing music for harmonica
David Barrett writes as if everything is a C harmonica. This confuses some people, others find it straightforward. I'm in the latter group.)

But generally a Bb is a Bb.
If your staff is written in C, there is no Bb. The middle line is for note B, the space below it is for A, the space above is for C. If a Bb is called for, the note will probably be shown on the 'B' line, but will be accompanied by a b (that's supposed to be the special character indicating a 'flat' note, i.e. A note which is a semitone flatter than otherwise indicated). Any notes written on that line further along in the passage, will be taken to also be flat, until there is another symbol (a bit like a hash mark, but not a hash mark, that would indicate a sharp! I've forgotten the proper name) which indicates a return to the normal note indicated by that line.

You can tell what key the sheet music is written in by reference to the key signature. If there are no sharps or flats indicated, its C, and thus the staff is only showing notes in C major unless otherwise indicated.
43 posts
Aug 09, 2017
12:51 PM
Thanks for that, I'm trying to learn music as I go but I find it a complicated subject probably because I'm going about it the wrong way.
91 posts
Sep 11, 2017
4:41 AM
I doubt that you are going about it the wrong way. Its just difficult.

I think that if you were designing a music theory today you wouldn't come up with the mess that we currently use. So don't beat yourself up.

This book helped me to get a better grip on it (still don't have a firm one):

45 posts
Sep 11, 2017
12:38 PM
Thanks for that. I agree I think it would be different and easier if it were designed to day.
I now realise that a bend would be shown as a b if bent down and a # bent up, I think.
I will look for that book
Thanks again
4944 posts
Sep 11, 2017
3:38 PM
Richard, that's not the case.
It could be the case sometimes but only by coincidence.
A bent note is just a note, it's not necessarily a flat note.
On a C harp 2 draw is G
Bend it a half step you get Gb. But we commonly call this F#. Just depends on the scale to which you're referring.
Bend a full step and you have F.

Even if you were playing in C, referring to sheet music written in C, this would just be noted as F. It's not flat or sharp.

Another example.
On C harp, 3 draw is B. Flat it a half step you have Bb (aka A#)
On an A harp 3 draw is G# (aka Ab).
Flat it a half step, you have G.
This will be noted on the staff as G.

Bent notes are just notes. The fact you need to apply technique to obtain them is not especially relevant to the notation.
46 posts
Sep 13, 2017
6:43 AM
Thanks again Super Bee
I had seen it on sheet music for harmonica and assumed that was how it was written, shouldn't assume things.I'm familiar with a piano keyboard so I understand the G# being the same as Ab, but this is getting to the limits of my understanding.
Thanks again.
4952 posts
Sep 13, 2017
2:27 PM
Yeah maybe if you have sheet music which has been prepared specifically for harp it might be notated, I should not be so absolute.
If you have such script though, there should be a legend describing any unconventional, instrument-specific notation.
4953 posts
Sep 13, 2017
2:48 PM
I looked back to the OP, since the music is for a G harp, and your asking about a 3 draw bend, we know certain things

3 draw on a G harp is F#.
A useful way to remember the name of the note in 3 draw for any harp is to realise it is a half step lower than 4 blow, and you always know 4 blow because that is the name of the harp. So the harp is G, 3 draw is F sharp.
Once you know that you also know that a 3' is F, 3" is E and 3"' is E flat (or D sharp)

So on the staff the 3' will appear as either a note on the top line or in the space between the 2 lowest lines.
The 3" will be either the lowest line or the space between the top 2 lines.
Depending on the key in which the music is written, the 3"' will either be shown as a note on the lowest line or between the top 2 lines, accompanied by a b to indicate a flat,
or it will be shown as a note below the lowest line or a note on the line second from top, accompanied by a # to indicate sharp.

i kind of doubt the 3"' is in question for summertime though.
But I also don't know the key your music is written in. If it's using dave Barrett's method of writing everything as if for a C harp, that's one thing, if it's standard notation that's another.
I spent some time thinking about this a while back and did get my head around it so I could read Barrett-style notation, whichbtreats the harp as a transposing instrument, and notation which is just whatever the key of the music and you work out what key harp. It's been a while though, and I'd have to think about it now and work some examples to get my brain thinking it through. I'm sure you can do that.
47 posts
Sep 14, 2017
11:48 AM
The version of "Summertime" I was referring to is a free lesson by Tomlin Leckie and is on a G in third position A minor. The last note on the first line is a 3 draw one step bend. It is written on the lowest line of the staff as an E but not as Eb or E# that idea I picked up from another piece of music which escapes me now. I used to play "Summertime" on a C harp but much prefer this version.
4957 posts
Sep 14, 2017
2:23 PM
Ok, it seems he is writing it as the actual notes of the actual harp you are playing, so that should be quite easy to follow. All you need to do is 'map' your G harp.
Blow notes are GBDGBDGBDG

Draw notes are ADF#ACEF#ACE

That's not bad, AD face face is quite a decent mnemonic

Hole 1 draw bend is Ab,
hole 2 half step is C#, hole 2 whole step is C
Hole 3 half step is F, whole step is E, step and a half is Eb
573 posts
Sep 14, 2017
5:27 PM
Jon Gindick has a good vid on Summertime. Am on a C harp. You play the top and bottom register. As mentioned, the bend is on the 3draw. Fun song.

I'm workin on it. I'm workin on it.
48 posts
Sep 18, 2017
10:43 AM
SuperBee thanks for the mnemonic that's going in my note book if I see it enough times I'll remember it.

Paul thanks the book is bought and I am working my way through it. I like his conversational style.
166 posts
Oct 08, 2017
8:07 AM
We've been doing that song for a while now using one of the Lee Oskar harps.. he labels it for Em (n) in 2nd.
It's A m in 1st position.
I has become a favorite harp for that song for bends and it flows nicely when playing it.

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