2005 P.Missin - Details

Cup mute/resonator

I first learned of this in the early 1980s whilst spending an evening in the company of Kim Wilson, but I subsequently learned that it has a very long history. Here is a picture from a 1920s instruction book (How to Play Blues on the Harmonica: A 5-Minute Instruction Course, by M.M. Cole Publishing Co.) showing a similar technique:

This is really just an extension of basic hand technique, with a cup, glass, tin can or other similar object being used to increase the capacity of the chamber formed by the cupped hands. Simply hold your cup or glass, or whatever against the back of the harp, opening and closing your hands to adjust the resonant pitch of the chamber:

With a little practice, all sorts of sounds can be produced, such as muted trumpet tones, wah-wahs, Leslie speaker effects, etc., etc.

It can be used to enhance the hand resonance effect (as described here) and also adds a strong visual element to performance. Experiment with different vessels - coffee cup, wine glass, beer glass, even cardboard tubes with one end closed off - each of them will tend to give different sounds.

... and if you really want to be the life of the party, try this other trick from that 1920s instruction book:

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