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The "Basic Overview" is an introductory primer on the two most important types of harmonicas, which harmonica to get, and the 1st and 2nd playing positions. Diatonic vs. Chromatic Harmonica The diatonic is mostly used for blues, country- There are two main types of harmonicas, the chromatic harmonica and diatonic harmonica. Although the chromatic is extremely versatile, the harmonica which is predominantly used in blues, rock, country, folk, etc. is called the diatonic harmonica (blues harp type). It doesn't have all the notes like the chromatic harmonica but many of the notes that are not naturally found can be acquired by "bending" certain draw (inhale) and blow (exhale) notes. People who play the diatonic harmonica- Players associated with the diatonic would include Bob Dylan, Neil Young, James Cotton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Paul Butterfield, Mickey Raphael, John Popper, Huey Lewis, Jimmy Reed, Sonny Terry, and so on. The chromatic harmonica is not recommended for the instruction on this site- The chromatic harmonica has a button on the side which allows you to play the normal major scale, and with the button depressed, gives you all the half steps or notes in between. This allows you to play any scale, in any key, but you can't bend notes very well on this instrument so you don't get the same "bluesy" sound as on the diatonic. The chromatic is mostly used for jazz, classical- The chromatic is typically used in jazz, classical, and pop music. Stevie Wonder, Toots Thielemans, and Larry Adler are three of the best known players of this instrument. Which Harmonica To Get Start with a basic 10 hole harmonica in the key of "C"- Diatonic harmonicas come in all keys (G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C, Db, D, Eb, E, F, F#), but for beginners it's easier if you start with a basic 10 hole harmonica in the key of "C" (generally speaking, the "G" harmonicas are very low and the "F" and "F#" harmonicas are very high, while the "C" is right in the middle). You can find one in almost any music store. A cheap harmonica is tough to learn on- Prices may vary, but it is best to buy one for no less than $10 to $15, because a cheap harmonica can be extremely difficult to learn on. Hohner, Lee Oskar, Suzuki, and Huang Harmonica Co.'s all make good harmonicas for around $20- $35 and the difference between them is ultimately a personal preference. Standard diatonic in the key of "C"- The serious beginner can't go wrong with the standard Lee

Armonica posiciones

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The "Basic Overview" is an introductory primer on the two most important types of harmonicas, which harmonica to get, and the 1st and 2nd playing positions. Diatonic vs. Chromatic Harmonica

The diatonic is mostly used for blues, country- There are two main types of harmonicas, the chromatic harmonica and diatonic harmonica. Although the chromatic is extremely versatile, the harmonica which is predominantly used in blues, rock, country, folk, etc. is called the diatonic harmonica (blues harp type). It doesn't have all the notes like the chromatic harmonica but many of the notes that are not naturally found can be acquired by "bending" certain draw (inhale) and blow (exhale) notes. People who play the diatonic harmonica- Players associated with the diatonic would include Bob Dylan, Neil Young, James Cotton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Paul Butterfield, Mickey Raphael, John Popper, Huey Lewis, Jimmy Reed, Sonny Terry, and so on. The chromatic harmonica is not recommended for the instruction on this site- The chromatic harmonica has a button on the side which allows you to play the normal major scale, and with the button depressed, gives you all the half steps or notes in between. This allows you to play any scale, in any key, but you can't bend notes very well on this instrument so you don't get the same "bluesy" sound as on the diatonic. The chromatic is mostly used for jazz, classical- The chromatic is typically used in jazz, classical, and pop music. Stevie Wonder, Toots Thielemans, and Larry Adler are three of the best known players of this instrument.

Which Harmonica To Get Start with a basic 10 hole harmonica in the key of "C"- Diatonic harmonicas come in all keys (G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C, Db, D, Eb, E, F, F#), but for beginners it's easier if you start with a basic 10 hole harmonica in the key of "C" (generally speaking, the "G" harmonicas are very low and the "F" and "F#" harmonicas are very high, while the "C" is right in the middle). You can find one in almost any music store. A cheap harmonica is tough to learn on- Prices may vary, but it is best to buy one for no less than $10 to $15, because a cheap harmonica can be extremely difficult to learn on. Hohner, Lee Oskar, Suzuki, and Huang Harmonica Co.'s all make good harmonicas for around $20- $35 and the difference between them is ultimately a personal preference. Standard diatonic in the key of "C"- The serious beginner can't go wrong with the standard Lee Oskar diatonic in the key of "C". It is a bit more expensive, but worth the price for it's consistent volumn, tone, and durability. In the Hohner line, the Special 20 is a very good deal. 1st Position (Straight Harp) Low notes to the left- For now, hold the harmonica by the ends with the numbers over the holes facing up (low notes to the left like a piano). You'll notice if you blow anywhere on the key of "C" harmonica you will get a

C chord (C,E, and G notes). Other key diatonic harmonicas are layed out exactly the same, so if you blow into a key of "A" harmonica you will get an A chord (A,C#, and E notes). 1st position is mostly blow notes- When you play mostly blow notes on your key of "C" harmonica you will be in the key of "C". This style of playing is called 1st position or "Straight Harp". This is typically used for simple melodies like "Oh Sussanah" and widely used in a folk context, a la Bob Dylan. Simple "Straight Harp" jamming- If you take any major keyed-song and the same keyed major harmonica (i.e. key of "C" for both) you can instantly jam along with it if you stay in the middle of the harmonica and primarily, but not exclusively stick to the blow notes. Resolution to the key of the music can be found on holes 4 and 7 blow. 2nd Position (Cross Harp) For blues, use 2nd position- If you want to play to more blues based music, your first choice would not be the 1st position (or Straight Harp) style of playing. This is where you would want to use what is called 2nd position or "Cross Harp" style of playing. 2nd postion is in a different key- To play in the 2nd position (cross harp), you should stick mostly to the draw notes at the low end of the harmonica (holes 1 through 5 draw). When this is done you are no longer in the key of the harmonica, but actually in a key which is a perfect 5th (or seven 1/2 steps) up from the key of

Here is a collection of instructional one liners. They include rules of thumb, playing tips, and common sense rules of physics and nature that apply to harmonica playing (and many other activities). They have been grouped in sub categories for convenience. Starting Out:

The further you can put the harmonica into your mouth without losing the single note, the better. Listen to as much harmonica as you can. Make a tape of your favorite players and songs and listen to it over and over again. Drive time is ideal for this. If you are just starting out on harmonica, don't try to "play music" right away. Spend a couple of weeks just concentrating on the basic techniques; establishing good habits with single notes, holding the harmonica, etc. The "music" will come soon enough. Stay as relaxed as you can when you play and practice. You will use your energy much more efficiently and ultimately be able to play faster and last longer. The trouble areas for tension are usually: the shoulders, the neck, and the whole face in general, but especially the eyes and mouth area. Watch yourself in the mirror. There is no such thing as cheating in music. Do the best you can to follow the rules and steps in learning the basics, but foremost, try to make things work. Bending is a great example. Do whatever it takes to make the note bend; you can clean up the technique later. If you find your lips sticking to the harmonica when you slide or move from hole to hole, lick your lips and the mouthpiece part of the harmonica before playing. Do this whenever necessary.

General: Get in the habit of frequently rapping the harmonica (mouthpiece side down) against your leg or palm to knock out the excess saliva and condensation from your breath. Do this before and after you put the harmonica into your mouth. If the reeds are stuck together with saliva, they can't vibrate and make sound. To get the best results from your practice sessions, "don't over do it and don't under do it". There is no need to work on something so long that you get so fatigued that you can't play again after a reasonable amount of rest. It's easy to burn out mentally if you frustrate yourself by expecting results and perfection too soon. On the other hand, don't give up too quickly. Sometimes persistence, quality repetition, and a little sweat, are the best ways to gain improvement. Whenever possible, be in a standing position if you are playing or practicing. Especially when you are working on your breathing technique, stand erect with your head up, back straight, and body relaxed so that you have a fighting chance of getting the airflow to originate from your diaphragm and not your mouth. Generally speaking, on a standard diatonic harmonica, holes 1-6 draw and holes 7-10 blow are capable of being bent (to a lower note). Whenever you do a basic draw or blow bend on the harmonica, it will always go down in pitch (lower). Bending notes on a stringed instrument like guitar, the note will always go up in pitch. Different rules of physics.

Your body remembers whatever it repeats. This is called muscle memory. Every time you play something, right or wrong, your body is learning it. Take your time when you practice, do it slowly and correctly, and then play it as many times as you can. This creates what is referred to as a "good habit".

Techniques: Correct breathing for the harmonica means N O T sucking and N O T blowing into the harmonica. Sucking and blowing occurs with your lips and at the front of the mouth. Put the harmonica further into your mouth to avoid this problem. See the section on Breathing for more information. The first thing, physically, that should happen when you play a note on the harmonica, is that your stomach (diaphragm) moves. This movement creates the airflow that ultimately makes the sound come out the harmonica. The secret to good hand effects is understanding what makes them, and when to use them. The object is to trap the sound into the largest and most airtight cup you can make with your hands. The perceived change of sound is actually a change of volume. Opening and closing your bottom hand rapidly will create what is called "hand tremelo". You can apply this effect to long held notes which tend to fall at the ends of phrases. Visit this link for more detailed info. When you are learning and practicing the hand tremolo technique, always play as loud as you can so that you really hear the difference between the "hands closed sound" and the "hands open sound". Always try to move the harmonica and not your head when you play. This will allow you to play faster and more efficiently in the future. Watch yourself in the mirror to REALLY check. Avoid "over-single noting". Always try to use 100% of the hole, that is, the whole hole, when making single notes to gain better volume, tone, and so that you use less effort when you play. For more information. To get better tone, more volume, and better intonation when you play, focus your airflow through the hole of the harmonica and not just into it. Visit this link for more information. *NOTE- Angled airflow is why so many beginners cannot get a good sound out of 2 and 3 draw. If there is any angle to your airflow, then you will be unintentionally bending every note you play and some of the high notes may not come out at all. Bending is only two things: 1. Breathing & 2. Shifting. Breathing is what makes the sound come out and shifting is what actually makes the note change pitch. Shifting is accomplished by changing the angle of the air flow. *NOTE- this angle of the shifting is not the same on every bendable note. Each reed based on how far it is capable of bending, determines where its own "sweet spot" is. It sometimes seems like it takes different techniques on different holes to make them bend , but the only thing that should change technically is the "sweet spot".

Becoming More Musical

All great players have two things in common: good tone (sound) and good timing (rhythm). To be able to play longer riffs and phrases, you need to string together some shorter riffs (i.e. triplet patterns). Don't be afraid to commit your own riffs/melodies to memory. One of the first things you should do after playing a new song or riff a few times, is to close the book, turn over the sheet, or look away from the monitor and then try to play it from memory. The sooner you do this, the sooner you will commit it to memory and put some "feel" into the song or riff. You may not get it perfect the first time when you're not looking, but that's ok. You can always take another peek and correct your mistakes. This is also a simple, easy way to do some ear training, if you don't give in too soon and look at the notes. Try to sound it out, it gets easier as your ear gets better. Get the music in your head first. If you can't hum, sing, or whistle a riff or song, you don't have it in your head, and therefore, don't really know it yet. To make your soloing more melodic; use more repetition of single riffs and use longer pauses between riffs. The repetition keeps your playing simpler and more memorable. The longer pauses (or rests) gives your listeners time to take in and digest what you just played. All harmonica players and musicians need to continue working on their timing, regardless of their level. The best way to do this is to practice 1/4 notes and whole notes to an amplified drum machine. With a drum machine, you can hear and FEEL the beat. A metronome is a second choice, but if you use one, make sure you can really hear it at your best playing volume. Avoid using the blinking lights that come with some metronomes because it doesn't simulate a real musical situation. The basic beat of most music, 1/4 notes, can be divided into 2 types of 1/8 notes. Straight 1/8 notes are 1/4 notes exactly divided in half and give you a "rock" feel. Shuffled or swung 1/8 notes are really the first and third notes of a triplet, and this is the most common groove or feel in blues and early rock and roll. It's always better to learn 3 songs (or riffs) well, then it is to learn 10 songs not as well. Put another way, it's better to sound good on only 3 songs then to sound mediocre on 10. Fills vs. Leads vs. Backup- make sure that when you are playing with people, at any given moment, you know your role. Should you be playing a solo, or playing fills between vocal lines, or playing backup, or nothing? Avoid over playing and under playing. If you don't know whether you're doing one or the other, ask the people you're playing with. Or better yet, tape yourself, let it sit a day or two and then judge for yourself. "Don't follow in the footsteps of the masters, walk where they walked".

Each of the three numbered sections below is a different approach to improvising or jamming to the blues. The fourth section, "Recommended 'Jam-To' Blues CD's", lists 3 albums with song titles and song keys that you can play to.

The "up" arrows indicate blow (exhale) notes and the "down" arrows are for the draw (inhale) notes. The little "b's" under the arrows are flat signs. One "b" is a half step bend and two "b's" are a whole step bend. Remember that not every note is capable of bending the same amount.

12 Bar Blues MIDI File:

The songs below range in level from beginning to intermediate to more advanced. If you are just starting out, spend at least a few days to a week or two on the first song. Commit it to memory, and then play it over and over again.

The Number and Arrow System

The "up" arrows indicate blow (exhale) notes and the "down" arrows are for the draw (inhale) notes. The little "b's" under the arrows are flat signs. One "b" is a half step bend and two "b's" are a whole step bend. Remember that not every note is capable of bending the same amount.

Beginning Level: A good song for beginners to practice single notes on and then incorporate hand effects.

Another good beginners song. If you have problems getting the high notes to come out clearly, see the Playing Tips page for tips on correct breathing technique.

Intermediate Level: A simple melody which consists of all 1/4 notes (one note for every foot tap). The bends will make this a difficult, but great, bending practice song.

Advanced Level: Try to pick up the Paul Butterfield "East-West" album so that you know how the timing and phrasing goes for this melody. The version on the album is played on a Bb diatonic harmonica in the key of F minor.

Another good test of bending accuracy:

HarmonicaFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

A harmonica A harmonica is a free reed musical wind instrument (also known, among other things, as a mouth organ, french harp, simply harp, or "Mississippi saxophone"), having multiple, variably-tuned brass or bronze reeds, each secured at one end over an airway slot of like dimension into which it can freely vibrate, thus repeatedly interrupting an airstream to produce sound. Unlike most free-reed instruments (such as reed organs, accordions and melodicas), the mouth harmonica lacks a keyboard. Instead, lips and tongue are used to select one or a few of the several holes arranged usually linearly on a mouthpiece. Each hole communicates with but one, two or a few reeds. Because a reed mounted above a slot is made to vibrate more easily by air from above, reeds accessed by a mouthpiece hole often may be selected further by choice of breath direction (blowing, drawing). Some harmonicas (known as chromatic harmonicas) also include a spring-loaded buttonactuated slide that, when depressed, further redirects air blown or drawn through a single hole, from one reed to an adjacent reed, usually a semi-tone sharper. The harmonica is commonly used in blues and folk music, but also in jazz, classical music, country music, rock and roll and pop music. Contents [hide] 1 Parts of the harmonica 2 Harmonica types 2.1 The diatonic harmonica 2.1.1 Special tuned harmonicas

2.1.2 The 14 Hole Diatonic 2.2 The chromatic harmonica 2.3 The bass harmonica 2.4 The chord harmonica 2.5 The Tremolo Harmonica 2.6 The Octave Harmonica 2.7 Toy harmonicas 3 History 4 Related instruments 5 Harmonica community 6 Some famous harmonicists 6.1 Harmonica bands 6.2 Harmonica ensembles 6.3 Bluegrass players 6.4 Blues players 6.5 Folk 6.6 Rock and roll 6.7 Rhythm and blues 6.8 Country music 6.9 Irish music 6.10 Jazz 6.11 Classical music [edit]

Parts of the harmonicaThe harmonica consists of a "comb" made of wood or plastic which creates the holes into which a player blows or draws to make distinct tones. The metallic blow and draw reedplates are screwed onto either side of the comb. Over the reedplates, there is a metal or plastic cover which projects the sound out of the open back. Chromatic harmonicas also have a button-activated slide. [edit]

Harmonica types[edit]

The diatonic harmonicaThe diatonic harmonica is most likely what you think of when you think of a "harmonica." It has ten holes which offer the player 19 notes (10 holes times a draw and a blow for each hole minus one repeated note) in a three octave range. The standard diatonic harmonica is designed to allow a player to play chords and melody in a single key. Because they are only designed to be played in a single key at a time, diatonic

harmonicas are available in all keys. Here is a standard diatonic harmonica's layout in the key of C (1 blow is middle C):1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ----------------------------blow: |C |E |G |C |E |G |C |E |G |C | draw: |D |G |B |D |F |A |B |D |F |A | -----------------------------

See also: image of the above diagram Note that although there are 3 octaves between 1 and 10 blow, there is only one full major scale available on the harmonica, between holes 4 and 7. The lower holes are designed around the tonic (C major) and dominant (G major) chords, allowing a player to play these chords underneath a melody by blocking or unblocking the lower holes with the tongue. The most important notes: C-E-G, the tonic triad, is given the blow, and the secondary notes: D-G-B-F-A, the draw, though this is reversed in blues harp. In addition to the 19 notes readily available on the harmonica, players can play other notes by adjusting their embouchure and forcing the reed to resonate at a different pitch. This technique is called "bending", a term borrowed from guitarists, who literally "bend" a string in order to create subtle changes in pitch. Using bending, a player can reach all the notes on the major scale. "Bending" also creates the glissandos characteristic of much blues harp and country harmonica playing. The physics of bending are quite complex, but amount to this: a player can bend the pitch of the higher-tuned reed down toward the pitch of the lower-tuned reed in any given hole. In other words, on holes 1 through 6, the draw notes can be bent and on holes 7 through 10 the blow notes can be bent. Hole 3 allows for the most dramatic bending: in C, it is possible to bend 3 draw from a B down to a G#, or anywhere in between. Howard Levy developed another technique in the 1970s that allows players to force a reed to vibrate faster, resulting in a higher pitch. This technique is called overblowing or overdrawing and is much less frequently used. For the few who master this technique, the diatonic harmonica can function as a fully chromatic instrument. List of Modern Overblow Masters:

George Brooks Carlos del Junco Larry Eisenberg Joe Filisko Howard Levy Chris Michalek Michael Peloquin Jason Ricci Jason Rosenblatt Rosco Selley Greg Szlapczynski Sandy Weltman

Frederic Yonnet Otavio Castro Thiago Cerveira

Making the overblow is a complex technique that doesn't work on all harps. Levy and some other harp player use specially worked harmonica made by Filisko that overblows and bend easily. Harmonica with plastic combs and large holes like the Hohner Golden Melody, Hohner Special 20 and Lee Oskar are usually good. You can also improve the overblow by opening the harmonica and pressing the reed closer the comb. But be carefull to not press it too much, you don't want to block the air from going and losing the note. [edit] Special tuned harmonicas A number of people have made specially tuned variants of the diatonic harmonica. For example, Lee Oskar Harmonicas makes a variety of harmonicas to help players used to a "Cross-harp" style to play in other styles. Cross-harp players usually base their play around a mixolydian scale starting on 2 draw and ending a 6 blow (with a bend needed to get the second tone of the scale; a full scale can be played from 6 blow to 9 blow). Lee-Oskar special tunes harmonicas to allow players to play a natural minor, harmonic minor, and major scale from 2 draw to 6 blow. Below are some sample layouts (notice that the key labor describes the scale from 2 draw to 6 blow. Natural Minor (cross harp, 6 blow to 9 blow) / Dorian (straight harp, 4 blow to 7 blow):1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ----------------------------blow: |C |Eb|G |C |Eb|G |C |Eb|G |C | draw: |D |G |Bb|D |F |A |Bb|D |F |A | -----------------------------

Harmonic Minor (straight harp, 4 blow to 7 blow)/1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ----------------------------blow: |C |Eb|G |C |Eb|G |C |Eb|G |C | draw: |D |G |B |D |F |Ab|B |D |F |Ab| -----------------------------

Major (cross harp, 6 blow to 9 blow), Lee Oscar "Melody Maker"----------------------------blow: |C |E |A |C |E |G |C |E |G |C | draw: |D |G |B |D |F#|A |B |D |F#|A | -----------------------------

The "Melody Maker" is a particularly interesting evolution of the harmonica, since it allows player accustomed to playing "cross harp" (in mixolydian) to play in a major key (which is what the standard layout is designed for in the first place). Rather than providing the standard C major and G dominant chords, the Mixolydian provides a G Major 7 (2-5 draw), a C Major 6th chord (1-4 blow) and an Am or Am7 chord (3-5 or 3-

6 blow), a D major chord (4-6 draw) and a C Major chord (6-10 blow). If we are in the key of G, then, the melody maker provides the I chord, the IV chord, the V chord and the II chord, allowing II-V-I progressions as well as I-IV-V progressions. It is also possible for a harp player to tune his harmonica himself. By making smal marks on the reed, you can change the note it plays. It is possible to either get a higher or a lower note. Some harp player make extensive use of these techniques and one of the most famous exemple is the harp solo on 'On the road again' by Canned Heat, on which the harmonicist gets the minor 3rd crossharp on the sixth drawn reed, which is normally the minor 2nd crossharp. [edit] The 14 Hole Diatonic The Hohner Marine Band 365/28 14 hole harmonica is not a standard diatonic harmonica. It has 14 holes and its general dimensions are a bit bigger, so its structure is different from the normal diatonic harmonica and, in the key of C, is pitched one octave lower than the standard 10 hole C diatonic. Thus, hole 4 blow is one octave below middle C. Hole 7 blow is middle C. The Marine Band 365/28 in G is similar to a usual G diatonic, having it's higher register expanded. Holes 1 through 4 and 6 are draw bendable, and holes 8 through 14 are blow bendable. Special attention to the extra holes 11 - 14 where the bending capabilities are, in theory, extended a lot (from A down to E in whole 14, for example).1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 -----------------------------------------blow: |C |E |G |C |E |G |C |E |G |C |E |G |C |E | draw: |D |G |B |D |F |A |B |D |F |A |B |D |F |A | ------------------------------------------

[edit]

The chromatic harmonicaThe chromatic harmonica has a button-operated slide that allows the player to change the pitch of any given hole. This means that each hole has 4 pitches rather than 2. The slide typically shifts the pitch of any given note by a half step. The note layout on a chromatic is traditionally the same as the note layout on holes 4-7 of the diatonic harmonica, and is repeated over its length. This is known as "Solo tuning." Chromatic harmonicas are usually 12 or 16 holes long. Because it is a fully chromatic instrument, the chromatic harmonica is the instrument of choice in jazz and classical music. In traditional harmonica bands, the chromatic harmonica plays the lead part.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -----------------------------blow: |C |E |G |C |C |E |G |C |E |G | draw: |d |f |a |b |d |f |a |b |d |f | -----------------------------1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ------------------------------

key out

blow: |C#|E#|G#|C#|C#|E#|G#|C#|E#|G#| draw: |d#|f#|a#|b#|d#|f#|a#|b#|d#|f#| ------------------------------

key in

Note that b# is the same as c and e# is the same as f. [edit]

The bass harmonicaThe bass harmonica is a special harmonica mostly used in ensemble playing. It usually consists of two harmonicas held together, one above the other, by an adjustable bracket. the lower harmonica has the natural notes of the chromatic scale, while the upper harmonica has the accidental notes. The bass harmonica has only blow notes. See the fuller description at: www.bassharp.com (http://www.bassharp.com/bh_101.htm). [edit]

The chord harmonicaThe chord harmonica has 48 chords: major, minor, augmented and diminished for ensemble playing. It is laid out in four-note clusters, each sounding a different chord on inhaling or exhaling. Each hole has two reeds for each note, tuned to one octave of each other. This gives the harmonica a more powerful and rich sound. [edit]

The Tremolo HarmonicaTremolo harmonicas have two reeds per note. The two reeds are tuned to be very slightly out of tune relative to each other. This produces an interesting warbling tonal variation on the very simple waveform of the basic ten- or twelve-hole diatonic. The playing is somewhat different, because each note is a vertical pair of holes, and each hole works either draw or blow, but not both.

The tonal variation of the tremolo harmonica is not truly "tremolo", of course, because the word "tremolo" is more accurately defined as a kind of audible amplitude modulation, and the tremolo harmonica really exhibits dual-frequency contribution/interference modulation, not amplitude modulation. But since no one has yet come up with a better word, "tremolo" must do.

The most significant characteristic of the tremolo harmonica may be its ability to work well within ensemble. The ten-/twelve-hole diatonic is excellent for solo work, but not so good for blending with other instruments. This is easily demonstrated by trying to use a ten/twelver as an accompaniment instrument for vocals or pipe-organ or horn; you will find that it just doesn't work too well. But try the same thing with a tremolo, and you'll find a natural fit. Many tremolos' notes are set up in a manner similar to ten/twelvers. The usual ten/twelver note setup (tuning) is sometimes called "Richter" tuning, which delivers only one complete scale, plus several select notes above and below. But on the order of half of the tremolos available in the world are set up differently. This setup has a few different names, including "solo tuning" and "scale tuning". Scale tuning delivers as many complete scales as possible given the number of notes built into the instrument. For more detail on tremolo, see the fuller description at: http://joshuacorps.org/friends/thetremolo For more info on tremolo and other double-reed tunings, see: http://www.patmissin.com/ffaq/q15.html [edit]

The Octave HarmonicaOctave harmonicas have two reeds per hole. The two reeds are tuned to the same note a perfect octave apart. ec [edit]

Toy harmonicasBecause of its simplicity, the harmonica is often the first real musical instrument children encounter. Toy harmonicas include tiny four-hole instruments and simple plastic models of a conventional size. [edit]

HistoryThe ancestor of the harmonica is generally accepted to be a chinese wind instrument called the cheng. Altough the shapes of both instrument strongly differ, the free-reed mecanism is very similar. It is belived that it was brought back to germany by voyagers around 1850. It would have then fallen into the hands of a young instrument maker named Mathias Hohner, from Trossinger, Germany. To this day, most of harmonica are still made by Hohner Company and the factory is still located in Trossinger. The harmonica wasn't very popular in Europe. The harmonica was essentially used in first position then, which makes it a very limited instrument. It was eventually imported to America by a relative of Hohner with a lot more success around 1900. The harmonica

then became very popular because of its simple construction (you can easily learn it alone) and because of its practical size. People also began to call it a harp. The first recordings of harmonica were made in the US around 1920 and 1930. These recordings are mainly 'race-records', intended for the black market of the southern states. They consist mainly of solo recordings (DeFord Bailey), duo recordings with a guitarist (Hammie Nixon, Walter Horton, Sonny Terry) or recordings featuring the harmonica in some kind of novelty act called the 'Jug Band', of which the Memphis Jug Band is the most famous. But the harmonica still represented a toy instrument in those years and was associated to the poor. It is also during those years that musicians started experimenting new techniques such as tongue-blocking, hand effects and the most important innovation of all, the 2nd poition, or cross-harp. The harmonica then made its way with the blues and the black migrants to the north, mainly to Chicago but also to Detroit, Saint-Louis and New-York. The music played by the afro-americans started to become increasingly different there. The main difference is the electric amplification of instrument: first the guitar and then the harp, bass, vocals, etc. The original Sonny Boy Williamson is the most important harmonicist of this era. Using a full blues band, he became one of the most popular act of Chicago. He also installed for good the cross-harp technique, opening the possibilities of harp playing to new sky. It is hard to imaginate how much influence he would have on the blues, if he would have lived longer. Unfortunately, Sonny Boy liked to bring woman from the audience on stage and dance with them as he played, but he eventually got stabbed by a jealous husband. But the harmonica didn't die with him. A Young harmonicist by the name of Marion Little Walter Jacobs would completely revolutionize the instrument. He had the idea to play the harmonica near the microphone and cup his hands around it, thus thightening the air around the harp, giving it a powerfull, distorted sound, close to the saxophone. This technique, combined with a great virtuosity on the instrument made him the most influencial harmonicist to ever walk the face of the earth. It is almost impossible nowadays to find a harp player who wasn't influenced by him. Unfortunately, Little Walter also died at a young age, from injuries suffered in a fight. Little Walter's only contender was perhaps Big Walter Horton. Relying less on the possibilities of amplification (altough he made great use of it) than on sheer skills, Big Walter was the favored harmonicist of many Chicago leaders, including Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. He graced many sides of Waters in the mid-fifties with extremely colorful solos, using the full register of his instrument as well as some chromatic harmonica. The only reason he is less known than Little Walter is because of his taciturn personnality and his inconsistence, and his incapacity of holding a band as a leader. Other great harmonicist have graced the Chicago blues records of the 50's. Howling Wolf is often dismissed as a harp player, but his early recordings show his great skills, particularly at blowing powerfull riffs with the instrument. James Cotton is also a household name of the Chicago Blues scene. He used a less amplified tone, relying on hand effects, giving his playing a country blues feeling to it. Sonny Boy Willimason II also used the possibilities of hand effects to give a very talkative feel to his harp playing. Number of his compositions have also became standards in the blues world.

The sixties and the seventies saw the harp take a step back in the white blues scene, to the profit of the electric guitar, that became the favourite instrument for solos. Paul Butterfield is perhaps the most well know harp player of the era. Heavily influenced by Little Walter, he pushed further the virtuosity on the harp. Sadly he rapidly fell into drugs and alcohol, and after his first two album, his career became stagnant. You can also hear some good harp parts on records by Canned Heat, The Rolling Stones and Cream, but there are few if no inventivness in the harmonica playing on these records. Recently, two harp players have had major influence on the sound of the harmonica. Heavily influenced by electric guitarist, John Popper of the Blues Travelers as developped an incredible virtuositie on the instrument. His electric and highly distorted solos are going at a breakneck speed. His influence is heavy on modern blues and rock harp players, who are trying to reach new heights with the instrument. Jazz harmonicist Howard Levy is perhaps the most innovative player since Little Walter. He has perfected the bending technique to use with more precision the notes it produces. He has also introduced a tchnique called overblowing, which enables the diatonic harmonica to play fully chromatic, while retaining the particular sound of the harp. Altought he has been performing this technique for quite a while, it has been displayed more and more in the 90s, and player a starting to integrate it in a more blues or rock oriented music. [edit]

Related instrumentsThe unrelated glass harmonica is a musical instrument formed of a nested set of graduated glass cups mounted sideways on an axle and partially immersed in water, and played by touching the rotating cups with wetted fingers, causing them to vibrate. [edit]

Harmonica communityThere is an active harmonica community on the internet and in real life, with conferences, cruises and everything. SPAH (Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica) is one society with a particularly amusing acronym. [1] (http://members.aol.com/harmonica) A harmonica list-serv is hosted at this web site (http://harp-l.org/mailman/listinfo/harp-l/) with searchable archives. [edit]

Some famous harmonicists[edit]

Harmonica bands

Borrah Minevitch Harmonica Rascals A Troupe da Gaita

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Harmonica ensembles

The Harmonicats Adler Trio [2] (http://www.adlertrio.com/) King's Harmonica Quintet [3] (http://home.netvigator.com/~cblau/khq/)

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Bluegrass players

Mike Stevens [4] (http://www.mikestevensmusic.com/) - Diatonic

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Blues players

Larry Adler Dan Aykroyd, as Elwood Blues Tom Ball Carey Bell Billy Branch Paul Butterfield William Clarke James Cotton Paul deLay, notable for chromatic playing as well as diatonic Rick Estrin Joe Filisko Harmonica John Fraser ([5] (http://www.harmonicajohn.com)), Plays drums and harmonica simultaneously Dennis Gruenling [6] (http://www.dennisgruenling.com/) - Jump Blues Chromatic, Diatonic Michael Peloquin, versatile player of many styles rooted in the blues James Harman Mark Hummell John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers Delbert McClinton, taught John Lennon how to play harp Jean-Jacques Milteau David Miller [7] (http://www.davidmiller.us/) - Diatonic, Chromatic Charlie Musselwhite [8] (http://www.charliemusselwhite.com/) - Diatonic, Chromatic Rod Piazza [9] (http://www.themightyflyers.com/) - Chromatic, Diatonic Rob Paparozzi [10] (http://honeydrippertx.tripod.com/) - Blues/Jazz, Diatonic/Chromatic

Jerry Portnoy [11] (http://www.harpmaster.com/) - Diatonic Gary Primich [12] (http://www.garyprimich.com/) - Diatonic, Chromatic Snooky Pryor Annie Raines Jimmy Reed Peter Madcat Ruth ([13] (http://www.eharmonica.net/peter_ruth.htm)) Curtis Salgado Corky Siegel of the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band George Harmonica Smith Sonny Terry Sugar Blue, known for high speed playing. Little Walter, great pioneer in amplified blues harmonica, Muddy Waters' first harmonica player. Big Walter Horton Junior Wells, played with Muddy Waters Mark Wenner Sonny Boy Williamson I Sonny Boy Williamson II Greg Szlapczynski Kim Wilson of The Fabulous Thunderbirds

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Folk

Woody Guthrie Bob Dylan

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Rock and roll

Bob Dylan Mick Jagger Steven Tyler John Lennon Huey Lewis Johnny Marr Ron McKernan of the Grateful Dead Alanis Morissette. John Popper, perhaps the most famous living harmonica player, known for his fast playing. Lee Oskar of War John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful, son of a classical harmonica player Neil Young Bruce Springsteen Keith Relf Robert Plant Jack Bruce Eddie Vedder

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Rhythm and blues

Stevie Wonder

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Country music

Clint Black Norton Buffalo [14] (http://www.norton-buffalo.com/) Jimmie Fadden of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Phil PT Gazell Buddy Greene Kirk Jellyroll Johnson [15] (http://www.jellyrolljohnson.com/) Charlie McCoy Terry McMillan Mickey Raphael Wayne Raney, known for his "talking harmonica"

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Irish music

Tony Eyers [16] (http://www.harmonicatunes.com/) - Diatonic Brendan Power [17] (http://www.brendan-power.com/) - Chromatic, Diatonic

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Jazz

Larry Adler - Chromatic George Brooks - Diatonic William Galison - Chromatic Max Geldray of the Goon Show. Enrico Granafei - Chromatic Clint Hoover [18] (http://www.skypoint.com/%7Echoover/) - Chromatic, Diatonic Julian Jackson - Chromatic Ron Kalina - Chromatic Don Les - Diatonic & Bass Howard Levy - Diatonic Laurent Maur [19] (http://laurent-maur.com/) - Chromatic Hendrik Meurkens [20] (http://www.hendrikmeurkens.com/) - Chromatic Chris Michalek - Diatonic Michael Polesky - Chromatic Jean "Toots" Thielemans - Chromatic Les Thompson - Chromatic Mike Turk [21] (http://www.aahome.com/turk/) - Chromatic, Diatonic

Sandy Weltman - Diatonic Frederic Yonnet [22] (http://www.fredyonnet.com/) - Diatonic

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Classical music

Larry Adler - Chromatic, Virtuoso Robert Bonfiglio - Chromatic Franz Chmel [23] (http://www.chmel-classic.de/) - Chromatic Sigmund Groven- Chromatic Jim Hughes - Chromatic Cham-Ber Huang - Chromatic Larry Logan - Chromatic Tommy Morgan - Chromatic, Diatonic, Bass, etc. Tommy Reilly - Chromatic John Sebastian - Chromatic (John Sebastian, Sr. - father of John Sebastian, Jr. of the Lovin' Spoonful, folk and blues player) Douglas Tate - Chromatic Yasuo Watani - Chromatic