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The Harp: How to Play the Thing, Part 2

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

How to Play the Thing, Part 2

But let’s not obsess about bending now. Learning how to bend, and bend properly, is difficult, and is a work in progress that even experienced harp players are constantly working on to get just right. We will get to that later, I promise.

Let’s just play the chromatic scale, which resides in its entirety between holes 4-blow, and 7-blow, as we have seen. So blow on the 4, draw on the 4, blow on the 5, draw on the 5, and so on, alternating blow and draw, and play some of those traditional folk tunes that we reference in Part 1.

But Paul Butterfield probably never played “You Are My Sunshine” in his entire life. Learning the middle octave of the harp is fine as you get a feel for where the notes are located, and for showing off to your friends, but that is not what we are doing here. And we are not even going to worry about the 3rd octave of the harp, holes 7- through 10. We care about what Butterfield played, and that is blues harp – and the music of blues harp is located on holes 1-6, and mainly on the draw notes in those holes. This is called second position, or cross harp. “Red River Valley” is different: it is straight harp, or first position, for playing melodies. Forget about first position. Anyone can play melodies in first position.

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