2003 P.Missin - Details

Bending 1 draw upwards in pitch

You have probably noticed that if you hit the first draw note of a diatonic harmonica quite sharply, you get a raucous honking tone. In fact, this is often used to suggest an old-fashioned car horn:

The pitch of this note can often be made to go slightly sharp if you attack it just the right way (some harps lend themselves more readily to this than others), which can make it musically useful. The earliest recorded example I know of this is in "Sleepy Blues", recorded in 1927 by the Five Harmaniacs (available on RST Records JPCD-1505-2 "Harps, Jugs, Washboards and Kazoos" - click here for details), where the harmonica player uses this technique to obtain the flat third in the lowest octave whilst playing in first position. The same technique is featured in Willie "Red" Newman's 1936 recording of "St. Louis Blues", "Mountain Blues" by Jimmy Smith (an old-time harmonica player, not the famous jazz organist - this used to be available on an LP on the Roots label) and "Travelin' Man Blues" by the Saunders Twins. Unfortunately none of these tracks are currently available on CD, as far as I know.

This is what it sounds like:

Here I am playing the notes Bb Bb G Bb Bb A G on a G harp. The Bb is played by pulling 1 draw sharp and the effect is accentuated a little by playing the A slightly flat.


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