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AG, lessons
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43 posts
Jan 13, 2019
12:00 PM
Hi Guys, I downloaded and liked Adam's TB lesson but I'm looking for a follow up to that lesson is there one ?
I searched the site but only found the intro. to TB. I've got down the basics outlined in the lesson but I'd like some instruction on how, when to apply the technique. I obviously am just getting started TB but it would help to start practicing this with some direction of incorporating it into my playing other than trail & error.
5753 posts
Jan 14, 2019
1:50 AM
I’m not sure I know that lesson.

After messing around with tb on my own for a while I pretty much learned everything I do from David Barrett but his is a paysite with monthly subscription. It’s a good site though

I did mess around for a couple years on my own though, without any real idea of a delineation between ‘tongue blocking’ and any other way of playing. I was just playing and trying out different things as part of what I did. It was like serendipity a lot of the time.
I’d become quite used to having my tongue get involved to create effects by the time I found David’s site and I think that helped me pick up what he was teaching fairly trouble-free.
44 posts
Jan 14, 2019
9:17 PM
Thanks Superbee, the AG lesson is real basic showing you some splits and what they sound like and what you should be listing for. AG plays some fast licks in the lesson showing how he uses splits but it's real short, what He's playing is nothing a beginner could touch and sounded nothing like the octives/splits the lesson focused on, like I said very very basic, Anyway I'll check out David Barrets site. Thinking about it I need to listen to some recordings and see if can pick up when TB being used (if that's possible). Not knowing what something sounds like makes it impossible to copy ! I'm not sure I could tell the difference from a guy playing a 2-5 split or if He's hitting a single note, time to give the LW cd's some ear time.
5755 posts
Jan 15, 2019
1:10 AM
I came to splits fairly late I think. I was getting into slaps and what David calls ‘pulls’ fairly early. But I guess that’s because when I started tb it was all about playing rhythm like waltz time.
What I actually did was play oh Susanna in waltz time, by inserting chords between the melody notes if you can imagine how that might work, and it was very awkward and messy at first because I was trying to articulate the difference between single notes and chords and even articulate the rhythm chugs using my tongue. eventually realised it was easiest to leave my tongue on the harp to play the singles and just lift it off for the chords, and put it back down to cut the chord off. I just kind of struggled my way to that realisation simultaneously with developing the skill of putting my tongue on and off the harp so when it began to come together it happened kind of quickly after a bit of time being quite useless and clumsy and sloppy.
My tutor had suggested, at the end of our 4th and final (group) session that the next step for me would be ‘ooh la lahs’ as he called it, and the oh Susanna exercise is pretty much how he explained what he meant by that. It was so awkward at first I’m sure I’d not have gone there without some encouragement, and I respected this fellow so I was a bit persistent even though I didn’t really get it for a while.
This was a year or 2 before I found internet lessons with Adam, and I think 3 years before I found dave Barrett.
But once I got the idea of those slaps etc, I started having lots of fun especially playing ‘americana’ type stuff on the top half of the harp. I found I could slap those notes to get a great staccato sound in songs like yellow rose of Texas, or turkey in the straw for instance, and also some neat sounding glissando effects in stuff like Dixie. Also some other folk music like the Irish washer woman and marching tunes like pack up your troubles.
That was all the sort of thing I used to play because I was having fun using the tongue.
But splits I was not doing.
One day I accidentally bent a note when I did gliss down to 3 draw and forgot to take my tongue off the harp for the bend. It bent anyway but sounded kinda sick.
Weird. I found I could reproduce it if I thought about it but it was awkward and pitchy and didn’t seem like a thing I’d ever want to do.
I asked a pro player about it and he told me to forget it, no one does that. He referred me to Jerry Portnoy’s CD set, where jp says he puckers the bottom 3 or 4 holes.

So I forgot about the bending aspect, but when I found dave Barrett he was saying to do everything tongue blocked including bends. He said lots of pro players do that. I tried it and quickly found I could do it and even started to get my bends in tune-ish.
Now I blow bend and even overblow with my tongue on the harp

I know a lot of folks do splits first. No harm in that probably.
46 posts
Jan 19, 2019
8:04 AM
Thanks again SuperB, I think I was going down the wrong road & will start practicing TB single notes and try & figure out how a slap is done and used it sounds like that's where it's at. I'm playing pretty much just rock/americana/country type stuff in my band and very little 12 bar blues with them. I only use harp on a few tunes but I need to up my game (a lot). Do you have any recommendations of a song or 2 where there is a lot of TB/slaps/pulls used I'd like to get a kind of bench mark sound in my head you know something to strive for.

Last Edited by Lou on Jan 19, 2019 8:05 AM
417 posts
Jan 20, 2019
6:21 AM
A suggestion I was given early on was based on the major scale, do re me etc. Start with a 1or2-4b chord, then put you tongue down covering all but the 4b, then same idea with the 4d, and on up the scale. Awkward at first. Have to start very slowly...very slowly. Like a couple of seconds on the chord, then find the right spot to elicit the single note for a couple of seconds. Speed up as you get more adept at it. At some point I reversed it, single note to chord. This lead to my tongue blocking just single notes up and down on different scales. I guess I’m still primarily a pucker player, but I switch back and forth, pucker to TV, pretty easily.
Phil Pennington
Phil Pennington

Last Edited by Fil on Jan 20, 2019 6:21 AM
321 posts
Jan 20, 2019
2:54 PM
Lou, seriously, head on over to bluesharmonica.com and save yourself years of frustration, fumbling around in the dark, and learning things wrong.

David Barrett has the most comprehensive and organized method for teaching tongue blocking style on the planet. Everything you want to know is explained demonstrated there as clearly as possible. Yes, it’s $18 per month for as long as you choose to use the site, but it’s the best harmonica related money you’ll ever spend, and it’s dirt cheap for what you get.
48 posts
Jan 20, 2019
3:43 PM
Thanks everyone & LSB I agree that's why I posted up here looking for some direction, I'm not one of those guys who has much luck trying to teach myself & 18 bucks is nothing especially when just starting out I'll probably get more than I can handle in the first 5 minutes !
5763 posts
Jan 20, 2019
6:02 PM
Lou, My reservation about Bluesharmonicadotcom in your case is that you mentioned above ‘very little 12 bar blues’ by which I gathered you probably don’t have much interest in the “traditional” or “classic” (or whatever you may call it) blues format, and David’s site is very heavily focused on the west coast style of which he’s a part and which is quite closely related to the Chicago style.
Also, I have met people who don’t learn well under David’s approach to tuition.
The site is extremely well put together however and the information is generally very sound.
I have some reservations about the product endorsements but that is relatively low key, so much so that it could all be in my head. You also get direct access to Greg Heumann, Kinya Pollard, Ross Garren, Winslow Yerxa and Skip Simmons as subject matter experts via the forum.
It’s a great site, but you won’t find a lot of rock/Americana/country coverage.
49 posts
Jan 21, 2019
7:42 AM
SuperB, my thinking is I need to learn TB to achieve the sound of slap/pulls as it would transfer over to a lot of what I'm doing. With my pucker style the notes seem to blend together sometimes not enough attack. Like a hard driving sax solo I'm trying to cop I'm have a problem getting that staccato sound down maybe I just have a poor pucker technique. Since I posted I've dug into some you tube TB videos and saw where Will Wilde has a way He gets that sound without TB to me I didn't like that approach.
A lot of the stuff were doing is a 1-4-5 or a variation and very simple harp parts work pretty well we even do One way out but it's the Allman Bros. version nothing like original so I copped the guitar riff and with very little embellishment on it, it sounds OK but better attack & slurs would really make that harp sound better. I think a good foundation in the blues style will do me nothing but good I'll just have to find the time to practice it ! I'm going to sign up with Dave Barret today and see what happens.
Thanks again for your help

Last Edited by Lou on Jan 21, 2019 7:44 AM
5765 posts
Jan 22, 2019
2:02 AM
Cool. I’ve been a member there for 9 years, just because I believe in David. If you’re interested in Harmonica players and insight from highly accomplished players, you’ll find the interviews alone are worth the price of admission. Also lots of equipment reviews on a range of topics; amps, mics, recording software etc.

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