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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Can you tongue block AND bend on the same time?
Can you tongue block AND bend on the same time?
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1 post
Dec 26, 2020
2:18 PM
I am working on basic technique. My harmonica embouchure sortta "happened" naturally and instinctively - long time ago when I started messing with diatonic harp. Without any guidance and before internet. It worked so I never had any reason to change it. But I was mostly playing 1st position without any bending.

Here is rough description:
1. I pucker but no excessively
2. I do not put harp very deeply in between lips (unless I want chords etc)
3. I extend my tongue forward and I touch the mouthpiece - very slightly - under the hole with tip of tongue. I do not curl my tongue in U figure (even though I have genes for that). This not exactly tongue "blocking" more like "tongue enhanced pucker" - to get very precise seal.

I get very relaxed setup that way.
I also get some tactile info about hole position - and ROCK SOLID reliable singe notes.
But I loose ability to "speak" into harp.
And - more important - there is no way to bend - my bending technique is not great but basically I move tongue "backward" to lower the pitch.

If the answer is NO - then I know I need to work on "tongue free" pucker.

TIA for any pointers.
372 posts
Dec 26, 2020
8:20 PM
Yes you can tongue block and bend at the same time. Though for me that is on the draw notes.
I do most all of the things you mention but not the tongue curl thing.
Usually keeping the harp deeper in the mouth is good but I'm beginning to see keeping the lips deep on the harp but not necessarily the harp deeper in the mouth.
Which is a bit hard to describe.
Eventually you'll probably find yourself being able to do all the various ways you wonder about. (Though I can't vouch for the tongue curl)
Though not all things on all songs. Some songs or portions of a song you do one way and another song a different way.
Good luck with all
6863 posts
Dec 27, 2020
1:49 AM
Yes, bending with tip of tongue anchored on the harp is totally possible. I bend this way almost 100% of the time, both draw and blow. I also do a meagre amount of over bending this way. That is, to the extent I over bend at all, I do it with tongue on the harp. The movement in the tongue which facilitates bending can all be done without moving the tip.
2 posts
Dec 27, 2020
7:56 AM
Thanks for the replies! Keeping tongue on the harp gives me very reliable single notes - although I would not describe it a "tongue curl". It is more live very wide (flaat) "V" shape. Without it I play single notes more by pointing harp slightly downward and deeper into lower lip - not sure if that is what Spedryak meant. Bending without tongue on the harp feels like dropping jaw to say "wow". I can still do part of the range of the bend with tongue on harp I guess I need to relax and find which tongue muscles I need. Thanks again!
373 posts
Dec 28, 2020
6:54 AM
As I look at other players technique I see some move their jaws quite a bit. Sometimes like 'wow' as you say other players not so much.
Although I like learning various ways to play I must admit learning to tongue block was a big break through for me. Even though I don't use it all the time the ability to use it was a big help. I found it awkward to TB the lower notes so I learned to TB on either side.
I try to hold the harp straight when playing. I did want to mention of the various ways to play it is always with the wet part of your lips or mouth. I think that doesn't get mentioned much. Thinking when pursing or puckering however it is described it is still needs to be the wet part that makes a good tight seal to the harp.
Good luck have fun..

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