I picked up a harp just two months ago and have been jamming with our band. We recently wrote a song that starts out in E minor, goes to G major then A major over and over. I was wondering if someone could help me figure out the best key to play cross harp with it. I’ve been playing it with a C harp but I know that’s probably not ideal. Any help y’all could give this rookie would be appreciated.
Last Edited by BrettHill91 on Apr 18, 2020 6:30 PM
First thought, C harp gives up Eminor and G major ‘kind of’ ok. Probably gives A minor easier than A major.
A D harp might do it. 3rd position is quite minorish, 12th position is fairly major for G and 2nd position gives you the A
The questions I have are about whether you need the major 7th in those major chords.
Also, to play G on a D harp can be a bit tricky on the bending end.
G A B C D E F# G
D harp has D E F# G A B C# D
So get the G you need the whole step bend in 2 draw but it’s also available as the 5 draw
Your scale for the G major would be 2” 2 3” 3’+4 4 +5 5 5 +6 6 6 overblow +7 8 +8 9
For the E minor on the D harp it’s all there except for the minor 6th, which again is the C rather than the Csharp. You’d play the 3’ and avoid the straight 3 draw and 7 draw, the 6 overblow is the scale note if you need it, but you can possibly get away with out that note.
The A major is pretty much standard cross harp, but if you need the major 7th you would need to overblow the 5 and or half step the 2 draw ie 2’
The major reserve I feel about this is that the D harp requires a good strong embouchure to play and hold the bends well.
There would possibly be other approaches but I’d need to think about it some more
The G harp is also a possibility. It would be good for your G Major chord and gives a full E natural minor scale although your probably want to bend the 3 draw whole step to get the bottom E. The A major will require a bit of work though. It might actually sound ok, but you’re missing the major 3rd in the middle octave. The 5 draw will give a minor 3rd. It could be ok though. Often you can play a minor 3rd in a major chord and it doesn’t sound terribly out of place.
Question of the 7th remains. Again it might be ok. You’ll have a flat/dominant 7th in that A scale and it may or may not work with your song.
I think that’s what I’ve got. An A harp will give you another shot I suppose, play second position on the E minor, don’t play the 3 draw straight and avoid 7 draw
A major, first position.
G is a bit trickier. I think it’s 11th position. Your root note is the 3 draw half step bend. That’s also the 6 overblow and the 10 draw whole step bend.
If you just played chord tones over the worked out a couple phrases, you could probably do it.
Root of the G is G, 3rd is B, 5th is D 7th is F# (dominant 7th is F) A harp has G# in 3 draw, so bend it for the semitone bend to G B is 4 draw D is 5 draw F# is in 6 draw (F is the 6 draw semitone bend)
So in fact you have all those beautiful harmonious chord tones there as adjacent draw notes.
So an A harp seems to me to be definitely worth investigating. It’s a great comfortably pitched harp. It’s just maybe too limiting on you’re Eminor chord.
Those are my ideas, I should say also that I’ve been just pulling these out of my head, “mentalling” it. Which is to flag the possibility I’ve made some basic errors in visualisation. But try these ideas and see how you go.
I might have a go at tidying up these ideas later, to be less confusing. I’m conscious you mentioned your only a couple months in, which leads me to wonder where you’re at with bending, and also whether you have any other background in music.
Thanks so much for the GREAT feedback superbee! I am still reading and learning the forum rules. I do have about 10 years under my belt on guitar. I have a good video of me and my buddy playing the song with a C harp if I can figure out how to upload it here or DM it to you I will send it!
I might be missing something, but when I play in Em I grab an A harmonica or an Em harmonica. I use the Em harp to play in the key of G on a couple of songs as well. I didn't look at it to closely but there are times I play more than one harp in the course of a song if needed.
I did look up the u tube link ( i think you usually hit 'embed' when posting directly) I remember my favorite teacher would always stress that I need to "stay in the chord" as a song goes along or it's solo time. So I try to keep that in mind as I play. I figure that's what you are doing and already know that from guitar playing. Once you get comfortable playing single notes that make up the various chords you'll most likely enjoy the extra flexibility. So you can vary from chords to notes to split chords etc etc ...and of course having some fun trying different stuff out...
Last Edited by Spderyak on May 01, 2020 3:59 AM