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Nov 29, 2021 - 2:44:07 AM
Players Union Member

maxmax

Sweden

1554 posts since 8/1/2005

It was the one thing I bought during the Black Friday deals. It should be here later this week. I motivated the purchase by telling myself I could mess around with it when traveling for work, to have something to practice reading, ear training and scales with as soon as I learn how to navigate it. But really I just think they seem like a lot of fun in a conveniently sized format.

I've always had a diatonic harmonica, but never got that into it. The chromatic seems more appealing to me now. Hope it is.

Anyone here play? Any recommendations on getting started or general thoughts to share?

Cheers,
Max

Nov 29, 2021 - 3:17:26 AM

129 posts since 11/9/2021

I've messed with diatonic ones ( and my concertina is set up the same way, ie blow suck are 2 different notes). My Dad used to play a chromatic one and he had an awesome technique where he could play the melody on one side of his mouth and the bass line on the other. He would play German folk songs on it. I've never seen anyone else do that. Good luck with yours, good choice for playing in the car while sitting in traffic!

Does your have the little shift button?  Like any instrument, figuring out the scale patterns is the essential first step.  Then its just wash rinse repeat. 

Edited by - wrench13 on 11/29/2021 03:20:08

Nov 29, 2021 - 5:03:34 AM
Players Union Member

maxmax

Sweden

1554 posts since 8/1/2005

Hi Al,

Yes, mine has the shift button. I've heard people playing octave notes by blocking the unwanted notes between them with the tongue, but didn't realise you could play bass lines like that. Very cool!

Nov 29, 2021 - 5:09:40 AM
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129 posts since 11/9/2021

I say bass, but i guess it was really the octave notes, as you say above. He would put his tongue in the middle of his lips and play both sides of his mouth. THats about all I can remember, my Dad passed when I was pretty young.

Nov 29, 2021 - 5:40:55 AM
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6652 posts since 9/21/2007

I can't help with the chromatic, but check out Sam Hinton for Richter harmonica playing.

Learning to play the Richter harmonica as designed was quite an eye-opener for me. It sounds like a tiny German accordion complete with counterpoint bass/chord accompaniment to the melody.

Nov 29, 2021 - 5:56:31 AM

chuckv97

Canada

61532 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

David Naiditch is a monster player on chromatic harmonica. He’s got stuff on YouTube with some very good professional bluegrass musicians. Met him at the Colorado River Bluegrass Festival a few years ago….. he’d sit in and jam with us.

Nov 29, 2021 - 7:44:24 AM
Players Union Member

maxmax

Sweden

1554 posts since 8/1/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

I can't help with the chromatic, but check out Sam Hinton for Richter harmonica playing.

Learning to play the Richter harmonica as designed was quite an eye-opener for me. It sounds like a tiny German accordion complete with counterpoint bass/chord accompaniment to the melody.


Thanks. I don't know what that is, but will look into it!

Nov 29, 2021 - 7:48:47 AM
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Players Union Member

maxmax

Sweden

1554 posts since 8/1/2005

quote:
Originally posted by chuckv97

David Naiditch is a monster player on chromatic harmonica. He’s got stuff on YouTube with some very good professional bluegrass musicians. Met him at the Colorado River Bluegrass Festival a few years ago….. he’d sit in and jam with us.


Thanks, I've seen several of his videos and love them! Very inspiring. I've played with a harmonica player once and it was great fun. He really played it like a fiddle.

Nov 29, 2021 - 8:15:32 AM
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6652 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by maxmax
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

I can't help with the chromatic, but check out Sam Hinton for Richter harmonica playing.

Learning to play the Richter harmonica as designed was quite an eye-opener for me. It sounds like a tiny German accordion complete with counterpoint bass/chord accompaniment to the melody.


Thanks. I don't know what that is, but will look into it!


The Richter system is now called "diatonic".  "Diatonic" is technically correct but there is more to it than that (which is why I use "Richter"-- the correct name for this system historically).

The layout is a very cool design.  The first four holes form the tonic and dominant chords.  Holes 5 to 8 form a one octave scale. 9 and 10 add some upper end in a useful way.

By placing your tongue over the first four holes you are able to block and un block the chord while playing the melody.   Think of the first 4 holes as the bass and chord buttons on a German according (which was the idea).  You can also play counterpoint accompaniment.  Done properly (which is actually pretty easy) it sounds like two instruments.

The repeated 3 hole draw and 4 hole blow was all by design and nothing is "missing" as is often claimed in blues harmonica instruction books. 

Here are the videos of Sam Hinton.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDD865B862A06C1BD

He is not doing anything unique and really just playing the harmonica as intended and designed, but he does it well.

Despite the fact that all of my harmonicas came with a little folded paper instruction sheet teaching me how to play like Hinton, It was not until I saw these videos that I fully understood what it was about.

Nov 29, 2021 - 8:22:24 AM
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2189 posts since 2/12/2009

I play lots of harmonicas and, have done since I was about 12 years old, I usually use the smaller blues harps/Marine Band type for gigging but find that the chromatic is so much easier for getting flats and sharps out of, the only problem I have with them is that they are too big and heavy for the rack I wear around my neck at gigs but, to play by hand they are great instruments, I own and use around 15-20 various harmonicas in all keys, all Hohner as I like them best, with practice there is not much you cannot play on them, it is all there, dig it !

Nov 30, 2021 - 7:01:35 AM

2963 posts since 2/10/2013

Joel -

When I lived in southwest Michigan, a harmonica player would attend a fiddler's association jams. He play what he called "blues harmonicas" - only 2 keys could be played on each harmonica. He wore a bandolier like Pancho Villa across his chest. But instead of having bullets, he had harmonicas.

Thinking that the harmonica was a simple instrument, I gave playing it a try. In my case, it was much more difficult than I expected. So, I stayed with stringed instruments.

Nov 30, 2021 - 6:54:46 PM
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1827 posts since 7/4/2009

Dick - The only physical difference between a "blues harmonica/harp" and a standard harmonica - if there's any difference at all, since blues harp is also simply slang for harmonica - is that those sold as "blues" harps have slightly thinner reeds to make bends and overblows a little easier. I don't know of any professional blues musicians who actually use the harps sold as "blues harps." Pretty much everyone uses the standard Hohner Marine Band.

Harmonicas are usually played in first position (playing the harp in the key it's tuned to - a C harp in the key of C) or second position (crossing it - playing the harp in a key a fourth below what it's tuned to - playing a C harp in the key of G). But there's also third position (playing a C harp in D) or fourth position (playing a C harp in A minor), which aren't uncommon. Theoretically, there should be as many positions as there are notes on the harp, but in practice this is impossible.

Max - I have played the diatonic harmonica since I've been playing music, but while I've always thought it would be fun to experiment with a chromatic, have never used it. Good luck and have fun!

Joel - Thanks for the link. I knew Sam Hinton was a good harmonica player (He was also a pretty bland left-of-center guitar strumming folk singer in the Pete Seeger mode) but have never seen videos of him play.

Dec 16, 2021 - 9:18:43 AM

Buddur

USA

3121 posts since 10/23/2004

I have a chromatic set of Jews Harps.

And...I don't tell that to too many people, for good reasons.

Edited by - Buddur on 12/16/2021 09:19:05

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