Thursday, October 15, 2009


I play the harmonica too.......

I really got into the harp when I went travelling a few years ago and didn't have space in my bag for a guitar. I mostly play the diatonic harmonica - aka the '10 blues harp' or 'diatonic harmonica' in the standard 'Richter tuning'.

Richter tuning is by far the most popular tuning for the 10 hole diatonic harmonica, and used on pretty much all old blues tracks. Holes 1-4 play the two main major chords - great for rhythm playing (eg in the key of C, a C chord when you blow and a G chord when you suck). Holes 4-7 play a complete octave of major scale, and holes 7-10 play an almost complete octave above this.

The mouth organ is most commonly used in blues music, but that's more to do with the limitations of players more than the instrument. They can actually fit into nearly every genre of music if you pick one in the right key. You can even bend all the notes and play chromatically using a technique called 'Overblowing'. Not many people know about this. Check out some of the links below, especially Howard Levy to hear the harmonica's full potential.


My most inspiring players at the moment include:

Howard Levy - a phenomenol harmonica player, pianist, composer and session musician who has been a huge pioneer in transforming the range of the diationic harmonica.

John Popper - a big man who sings and plays harmonica with Blues Traveler and regularly outplays guitarists.


Here's a few tracks of me playing the harmonica....

Music Playlist at


Here's a few great links to inspire you...

Free Harmonica lessons A site by a player called JP Allen Overblowing is a misleading term that describes a relatively new way of bending notes on the harmonica. It doesn't mean blowing harder! This site has a wealth of info on how to overblow, and set up your harmonica really well. More overblowing info by a player called Tinus Koorn.

Harmonicas Direct A shop in the North that sells everything you need.

The NHL Not to be confused with the Canadian National Hockey League, The National Harmonica League is a based in the UK and can put you in touch with everything going on nationally and across the globe. Find teachers, jam sessions, workshops, new players etc.

SPAH The Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica, know as SPAH, is an international non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Michigan in 1963 by a small group of visionary harmonica enthusiasts who were passionate about the instrument and about its relevance to contemporary and future music .

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