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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > blues in all keys on one diatonic harp
blues in all keys on one diatonic harp
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6591 posts
Oct 27, 2019
5:14 AM
Nice job on this. I like the fact that it's non-virtuoso stuff. Fine player, but he's made it seem like a mere mortal could actually enter this realm:

Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition
62 posts
Oct 27, 2019
7:57 AM
Impressive. I also think it did a good job of showing the different flavors for each position. Some definitely have more flair than others.

Lets see how we all do! (I didn't find the
track he used, but this isn't bad either)

Last Edited by agarner on Oct 27, 2019 8:02 AM
The Iceman
3945 posts
Oct 27, 2019
8:33 AM
It's not that hard if you have accurate control of all inhale bends in 3 hole inhale, can play notes created through bend technique as stand alone in tune ones, play 6 hole OB and have enough music theory knowledge to pick and choose notes that work for each key.

I guess obtaining the individual skills I mention above may take a bit o' time for some, though...
The Iceman

Last Edited by The Iceman on Oct 27, 2019 8:34 AM
930 posts
Oct 27, 2019
7:36 PM
Mike is a monster player. He’s been at the last two spahs in Tulsa, and I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s also a really, really nice guy!
371 posts
Oct 29, 2019
8:42 PM
it's one of those things that only impresses other harmonica players who know how incredibly difficult that actually is to do..

bravo though, he kept it musical and the overbends sounded really good.
4' 4+ 3' 2~~~
-Mike Ziemba
Harmonica is Life!

Last Edited by slaphappy on Oct 29, 2019 8:43 PM
164 posts
Oct 31, 2019
1:35 PM
That's really cool. Thanks for sharing, great demonstration of the possibilities. You can tell which positions are the most challenging based on his phrasing. There's a few where he plays pretty conservatively before switching to the next position and playing something more expressive.

I think to say that "Its not that hard" is a bit condecending. Its not like sliding your hand up to the next fret on a guitar. Your technique has to be spot on especially by the time you get to 10th position. If it wasn't hard we'd hear most players able to step out into different positions rather than honking away in 2nd. Even 1st and 3rd are rare birds. All the other positions you almost never hear except from a few players.

AJ Silverberg
The Iceman
3951 posts
Oct 31, 2019
2:25 PM
asilve3 opines "I think to say that "Its not that hard" is a bit condecending"

- only if you selectively edit out everything that was written after those first 4 words! ;>)
The Iceman
2022 posts
Oct 31, 2019
3:24 PM
In person I have heard it done by a couple of skilled players. It was an interesting exercise demonstrating great skill with technique and understanding of the instrument's note layout. I enjoyed seeing/hearing it done.

By no means would I ever suggest that it is easy. I would not even attempt it! I have not put in the time to master those techniques.

You have to understand the instrument to understand and appreciate the skill needed to do it well. Non players have no idea of what is being done and will just hear the notes and intonation.


Now, if someone called for you to play harp on a 12 bar blues in F# at a gig or in the studio would you choose a C instrument or some other key using extended position playing? Or would you choose the position that rendered the best blues sound?

If you did play it in an extended position, would the music you played meet the approval of a regular blues audience as being a solid blues performance throughout the course of a full five minute 12 bar blues song?

Would the producer at the studio be satisfied that you played the blues they requested?

The ability to play the "manufactured" notes used to perform such a demonstration could certainly be useful in some performances of some music.

When playing a paying gig you choose the instrument that will allow the best performance of the music, not necessarily the instrument that shows your ability to play in extended positions.

If you get a better blues sound in a simpler position, you go for the better blues sound, not just showing off technique.

For years at SPAH jams I have been impressed by the ability of some players to use overbends to play in what seem to be difficult positions.

In 2008 at my first SPAH Chris Michalek and George Brooks amazed me at the blues jams with playing in extended positions.

However, people using more mundane positions usually offered better blues performances.

Doug S.

Last Edited by dougharps on Oct 31, 2019 3:25 PM

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