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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Doing the 9 draw
Doing the 9 draw
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17 posts
Feb 10, 2022
4:29 PM
I wanted to ask, is the 9 draw a difficult one (like the 2 draw)?

My 9 draw on a bunch of diatonics and even on the chromatic is problematic. Sometimes I hit it, sometimes it warbles, sometimes is goes out of tune, and sometimes is sounds like a dying wildebeest with laryngitis trying to yodel in old Flemish while being eaten by a mountain lion.

It seems sometimes I can hit it quick if my embouchure is tighter, and I draw harder from deep in my stomach.

Does anyone know if there are any materials for this?
7050 posts
Feb 10, 2022
10:21 PM
It’s a worthy question.
I’m sure this troubled me for a while.
It might trouble me still. I’m not sure I play the 9 draw much.
Basically I don’t know how to describe what to do. I think part of it is relaxation and less breath force, but not just reduced force. Reduced tension. It’s a trick because the key to be able to play with reduced force seems to involve having an appropriate mouth shape/size going on.
Think about those times you accidentally pick up the harp upside down and go to play a 2 draw.
That’s actually the 9 draw that squalls out and shocks you. Or doesn’t.
You know what I mean maybe. When you have played for a while and you are expecting something but you have the wrong harp or it’s upside down the noise that comes is just wrong in more ways than simply unexpected.
That’s basically what’s happening
You are expecting something but you haven’t got it right yet so it’s often the wrong thing.
I don’t really know an answer except to keep on doing it and gradually your brain will work out how to do it right.
For me, the top part of the harp started to work when I focused on tongue blocked blow bends, which I mainly did by trying to play Bright Lights Big City. There were a few others too but I doubt it matters. I did 5 minutes every morning for about 3 weeks and after that I could play most of the top end fairly reliably except the 10 blow bends which just took a lot more time and still I feel I need to keep at them or they quickly fall off.
I’m guessing you don’t have an issue with the other slots though so what could it be about the 9 I wonder.
It’s not an inherent property of the reed. The reed is the same as the 9 blow. They are short and stiff, but the 10 is more so and the 8 only slightly less.
I don’t really get that thing about the 2 either though, so likely I just don’t get it. I don’t recall ever having an issue with the 2 but people definitely do
Sorry, probably not much help there
18 posts
Feb 11, 2022
7:54 PM
Actually, SuperBee, that is a help. Based on your advice, I'm attempting to understand the times when I get it and the times when I don't, and experimenting with improving my embouchure. Right now I'm trying to round it more tightly while keeping my lips more relaxed together with a sharper intake of breath. It's going to take some practice. Maybe I'll look for the Bright Lights Big City tab and use it.

Thank you!!!
393 posts
Feb 12, 2022
9:02 AM
I love the description of the "..wildebeest with laryngitis...."
When I'm checking to see if any of the notes are being difficult. I use one breath on the blow notes and the same with the draw notes.
So for example starting on the one I blow the one and slide on up to the 10.
Same for the draw I start on 1 draw slide up to 10 draw. All the notes should respond.

In earlier days ! used to blow or draw one note at a time kind of like 10 separate puffs of air or 10 separate draws and could never tell if it was me or the harp behaving properly.

These days in my playing I try for the first method and only change the force of the breath if I'm trying to add particular dynamics to a song.

Hope I described that okay and didn't add to any confusion. I usually use "Walters Boogie" for my go to song for a point of reference.

I like the "harmonica for dummies" books as a nice source of info. and various examples.
19 posts
Feb 13, 2022
5:35 PM
Spderyak, in the light of what you said I realize that I tend to modify my draw based on the resistance I feel. -10 can be hard so I do it more sharply. If I go from -10 to -9 then I tend to get the -9. -8 isn't so hard, so if I go from -8 to -9 I tend to miss the -9.

It seems that I should be attempting a consistent breathing force regardless of the hold, draw or bend?
394 posts
Feb 14, 2022
5:40 AM
I would say yes for the most part. I used to think I needed to have a 5 pound weight in my jaw to draw a note down. You know when you hear a catchy tune and you start humming along. It's not the force of how hard or soft you hum that makes the tune catchy it's the rhythm & phrasing. Kind of along that idea.

I used to clench up my mouth super tight when I went to the high notes for some reason. It was like hitting a panic button every time I went up there. No reason to it but was all in my head. I had to learn to relax up there.
Also I noticed that when playing a tune I would actually drop my arm on that side and the harp was pulling away from my mouth so I was just getting squeaky kind of notes. There were plenty of times I would find myself tipping the harp into my mouth one way or the other so I was often choking out the note by not hitting the hole fully.
Lots of good info out there from far better players than myself but I think that is a common theme as a rule of thumb.
And of course have some fun playing !

Last Edited by Spderyak on Feb 14, 2022 6:19 AM
20 posts
Feb 14, 2022
3:50 PM
Hey, Spderyak, thanks! Based on what you've said, and what other players have said, and my own experience, I'm understanding that everyone goes through their own unique path with this instrument.

All the same, I've approached my recent practice with some adjustments based on what you guys have said.
7054 posts
Feb 15, 2022
10:34 PM
really helps to do that belly-breathing too i think
21 posts
Mar 01, 2022
12:51 PM
It does! Wouldn't ya' know that playin' harp is like doin' Yoga or Chi Kung?
29 posts
Dec 20, 2023
12:06 AM
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