Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Next steps to grow as a harp player?
Next steps to grow as a harp player?
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128 posts
Nov 26, 2019
2:51 AM
Hello Everybody,

I need some help/advice on how do I grow as a harp player.

A little background.
1) I heard a blues harp (and the blues!) for the first time at age 30. Junior wells, snatch it back and hold! I always had a harmonica n played basic stuff. what I was hearing with the snatch it back..was amazing and incredible..and how a harp could sound like that. now I had no knowledge in music theory but I wanted more of this!

2) moved to the Middle East from (India) at age 32. watched a lot of videos on youtube. learnt how to bend. next two years learnt more..picked a few more harps in different keys. learnt to overblow.

3) participated in the 'throw down with the pros' on this forum..and in the process learnt so much more!! ( still no knowledge of music theory!)

4) immediately after that learnt to play JUKE and learnt so much more again!

as of now at age 41, I play at church, familiar with playing in 12th position, 3rd and 4th.comfortable with overblows and overdraws. can set up my harps well. and can improvise with jam tracks a fair bit.

NOW, I want t get to the next level. Understand music theory better, in general grow as a harp player! what I understand is I need to follow a structured plan. right now I'm all over the place!! I have been looking at ARTISTWORKS.com ( Howard levy) and blues harmonica.com David Barett.

attaching two videos of me playing. one was recorded 7 years ago and the other 5. I have gotten a little better since then!

What would you guys suggest? what would be a good approach? I have a good ear for music (I believe)! :)

Would appreciate your inputs, suggestions. Thanks for reading my long post! appreciate it!

The Iceman
3966 posts
Nov 26, 2019
4:23 AM
For the blues aspect, find (or put together) a band - playing out with real musicians is a great next step.
The Iceman
129 posts
Nov 27, 2019
5:39 AM
@Iceman, Thankyou!!
3067 posts
Nov 27, 2019
7:46 AM
Playing with those who are better than you will challenge you to grow. Learning how to get along with other people and do music at the same time is key since making music with others is a conversation. This conversation is based on good manners! Learning to feel the changes and know my place in a song- or conversation- was crucial to my becoming a better player. I hope you can find some like minded musicians in your area. Best of luck to you!
Music and travel destroy prejudice.



189 posts
Nov 27, 2019
10:59 AM
A little OT but if you are going the band route I would recommend being the singer if at all possible, in addition to harp. This gives a lot more control over things like volume, dynamics, and song choices.
Before you rule yourself out as a singer remember that Little Walter had sort of an average voice but he knew how to stay in his range and sounded pretty damn good.
Homeless Joe
2 posts
Nov 27, 2019
1:25 PM
Google "music theory". There are lots of music theory sites to learn from.

I like your videos.
772 posts
Nov 27, 2019
4:55 PM
Hey logansays,

It's always hard knowing what to do next, isn't it? I'd say if you know 12th and 4th to a degree then you should work on improving your playing in 1st and 3rd. You'll get a little shot of theory while you're at it.

If you play in 3rd for instance
-1 2' 3" +4 -3 3" -1 (I Chord) 3rd Pos
-2 -3 -4 -5 +5 -4 -2 (IV Chord) 2nd Pos
3" 4' +5 +6 ^5 +5 3" (V Chord) 4th Pos

This is a musically congruent line which is basically the root/3rd/5th/flat 7 (dominant seventh chord) for the first four notes of each line. Kind of a more advanced example, but if you start to learn to arpeggiate chords or learn the components of them you can figure out all sorts of grooves.

You'll also maybe notice a pattern in the example. If you treat chord changes as position changes, then you can quickly extrapolate what position you'd play for what chord (assuming a I/IV/V) progression

I Chord is position you're playing in
IV Chord is one position backwards from what you're playing in
V Chord is one position forwards from what you're playing in

So when you play in 2nd position, you can do 2nd Position (I Chord), 1st Position (IV Chord), and 3rd Position (V Chord)

If you play in 1st position, you can do 1st Position (I Chord), 12th Position (IV Chord), and 3rd Position (V Chord)

You may also notice that the 5th scale degree from the I Chord is the root of the V chord (3" in this example). Kind of a neat hack.

Just my two cents as somebody who didn't/still doesn't understand why things that I play work all the time. Sorry if this doesn't make too much sense, I started Thanksgiving early :)
Ridge's YouTube
130 posts
Nov 28, 2019
6:55 AM
Thanks guys for all the info! some really good suggestions!

@Ridge! I'm trying to understand what u have written :)..been traveling so haven't had much of a chance to sit down with the harps and try stuff!

its going to sink in slowly. I'm sure it is helpful, so thank you!!

Last Edited by logansays on Nov 28, 2019 7:02 AM

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