The Harmonica is a Versatile and Mobile Instrument, Capable of Travelling with you in your Pocket, of Producing Soul Provoking Sound.
It's a Powerful Instrument that When People Hear it Played Properly they are Instantly Transported as if Across Time to a Smokey Filled Bar, or Freight Train Tracks.
Come With the Dust and Gone With The Wind
To Understand that Sound its Important to know the harmonicas roots. The First Patent for a Mouth Organ (European) was in 1821. What Most People Identify with the Harmonica these Days is the American Folk Style and the Blues.
Now think About that Time. Turn of 19th Century and the Invention of Electronic Recording made 'Capturing Music' and Reproducing that Sound Possible. Between 1927 and 1932, a man named Harry Smith compiled whats know as the Anthology of American Folk Music.
The Dust Bowl
The Great Depression Halted Folk Music Sales and Notably Displaced Nearly Half a Million People from Oklahoma itself. This has Been Documented Quite Vividly in John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath..
The Great Migration to California in Search of Work, after Having to Leave Generational Farms in search of Pastures a Plenty, Gave Rise to the Father of American Folk Music Woody Guthrie.
Woody Guthrie's Recordings Hold Great Value to this 'Sound' as he Embodied that Time and Also Collaborated with some of the Best Blues Harp Players Around, Notably Sonny Terry and his Rhythm Guitar Partner Brownie McGee.
Woody Guthrie's Song, Do Re Mi- "California is a Garden of Eden, a Paradise to Live in or See, But Believe it or Not you Won't Find it so Hot if you Ain't Got the Do Re Mi (Money)"
And of Course, All this Led To the American Folk Revival in the 50's and 60's of Whom Bob Dylan is The Most Renowned- Until He Retired his Service to this Tradition to Expand into More Creative Freedom ' I Ain't Going to Work on Maggie's Farm No More'
My Recommendation is To Check Out These Woody Guthries Recordings - Remember, This Is The Guy Who Mentored Bob Dylan- If Your Interested in Fusing Guitar and Harmonica This Is the One Investment To Make.
If You're In America- Woody Guthrie
If You're In Australia- Woody Guthrie
If You're in the UK- Woody Guthrie
Loaded Wagons, Families Travelling Down a Long Lonesome Road, Tent Cities, Hungry Children, Stricken Mothers, Desperate Fathers..Movement, Trains.....Dust, Wind Blowing Across plains, Quite Hope...
A Little Bit of the Blues
Folk Harmonica is very Distinctly Different to the Blues- in Every Way possible as if they Were a Different Instrument Entirely.- In the Practical Way It's Played And The Intention. That being said a Fusion is Absolutely Possible and Regularly done.
Blues Music was Considered the Devils Music. It Most Often Led to Womanising, Drinking, and Destitution. These Men Were Full of the 'Blues' and It Was Very Real For Them -for They Knew They Had Chosen the Devils Music and Turned There Back on the Good Book- the Bible.
There are Many Stories of a Blues man Being Shunned or Frowned upon Coming into Town, Always on the Move, Running From the Devil, Having to Leave Behind the Woman they Loved, or One of..
Many of These Men's Lives Ended in Mystery and Tragedy.
Notorious Blues man, Robert Johnson,-His Tue Story Lost in Antiquity, Disappeared and Was Only Known to Have Vanished After John Hammond Snr, Was Organising a Concert in Honour of These Men and Found Out He Was Apparently Dead.
One Story Goes, That After a Gig Robert Was 'Playing Around' with the Publicans Wife After Giving Her the Eye All Night-Next Day He Fell Sick and Died Shortly After. It's Supposed From Poisoning.
A Great Documentry 'Searching For Robert Johnson' is Well Worth Checking Out. As well As Robert Johnson's Songs, Cross Road Blues, Hell Hound On My Trail..
Even Though Johnson Did Not Play Harmonica, He Allegedly Sold His Soul to the Devil, And Was the First in The '27 Club'- Understanding the 'Sound' will give you the Soul and Embodiment For Authenticity.
To Check Out Robert Johnson's Music- If You're in
America- Robert Johnson
UK- Robert Johnson
Australia- Robert Johnson
If it's Folk Harmonica you are Wishing to Pursue Check out Learn to Play Guitar- A soul Approach and Follow the Learn the First Song Technique. Simply Find a Tune and Learn to Play it by FEEL and Not Theory- This Process Will Lay Foundation Motor Memory and it will Just Get Easier from there.
The Fisrt 5o Songs You Should Learn on Harmonica by Hal Leonard is a Great Place to Start
If You're in Australia
If You're in America
If You're in the UK
Now, While We're on The Subject of Folk Harp, You Will Need a Harp Rack. If You're Short on Cash You Can Use a COAT HANGER. This Works, Seriously, I Have Had to Whip One Up Middle of a Gig Once, Fortunately the Hotel Had One! With Pliers Mold It Into Shape...If You're Not Short on Cash And Ready to Invest in Yourself, I'll Give You Some Advice.
Iv'e Had Half a Dozen Harp Racks Over My Time. and There Are a Multitude of Styles. They Either Snapped, Seized up, Lost Tension or Were Even Just Awkward and Uncomfortable- Not Much Better Than A Coat Hanger Really...
Eventually I Decided to get a Decent One and I've Had it Now For at Least 7 Years and It's Still as Good As the Day I Bought it! The Ease-Ability, Reliability, Comfort, Space, So Good.
Anyway Here's the One I Use If You're Interested-
In The UK
Also, For FOLK I'd Recommend Hohner Marine Band Harmonicas
and For BLUES Hohner Blues Harp Ms Series
or Special 20's. However They Both can be Played Either Way but as You Will Find out, it Does Make a Difference. A Key of C and G are Important for Folk and Key of A is Important for Blues To Start.
Get Your Harmonica Ready. Locate 3,4,5. You would have Found with Folk Harp it Involves a lot of Blowing out. Blues Predominately is Sucking In. Create a Chamber as Shown in the First Photo of This Article.
Imagine An Old Train. I'ts Getting ready to Leave the Station. You Sneak into an Empty Carriage as it Starts to Move, There's a Couple of Drifters Already On Board. You can Feel it Gaining Momentum <<3( Suck in Twice) 4>>( Blow Out Twice), You've Said Goodbye to your Lover and you Don't know When you'll Be Back, <<34>>, <<34>>, <<34>>, <<34>> Its Speeding up Becoming Louder, Use the Chamber you've Created to Gain Depth of Sound, <<34>>, <<34>>, Now Get the Rhythm Going, faster, faster, NOW Suck in Deep on the 3's, BEND the 3 ( by Sucking As If Through a Straw of a Thick Banana Smoothie)...Get the Feeling, The Sound...
Here's Another cool Rhythm, Vocalize -
Chuckity, Chuckity chuck a titti chuck a titti titti -it the 4 rhythmically using that depth of sound.
You Can Play Now Right? I've Given You Everything you Need Now It's in Your Hands- Commit to It and It Will Happen For You-Get Proper Equipment Because Trust me, It Makes a Difference in Sound Quality as Well as Instilling Motivation, Drive and Pride in Your Progression!
Enjoy the Journey!
If You Have Any Enquires Please Feel Free to Contact me
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Thanks, All the Best
A Jolly Swagman