Bending blues harmonica notes | Easyharp Tips

bending harmonica

Hello blues harmonica friends, today I try to give you some basic tips about one of the most characteristic techniques applied to our tiny instrument: bending.

Bending means lowering the pitch of a note played through the diatonic harmonica, we can bend draw notes in first six holes and blow notes in last 4 holes.

But how can we bend those notes? It’s so mysterious at the beginning, but when you got it, it will become part of your natural way of playing the blues harmonica. Here some simple information about a correct approach to the bending technique.

1. Before trying to bend a note, try to play that note as better as you can, I mean try to play a clear single note without any other disturbing rustling sound: check your embouchure!

2. Start from fourth hole draw.

3. Your breathing is crucial for a good bending: don’t suck the air, just take a long breath through the fourth hole in a natural way, use your diaphragm and don’t breath through your nose!

4. Draw in the fourth hole without trying to bend, listen to the sound coming out, recognize the starting note, put your harmonica apart and sing that note.

5. Starting from that note, try to sing a little lower note.

6. Make the same thing whistling: make a whistle like the note you have in the fourth hole draw and than try to whistle a lower note. Try to imagine what’s going on inside your mouth while whistling those different notes.

7. Even more difficult, make the same whistling exercise but drawing.

8. Your oral cavity is your sound generator, you can, like singing or whistling, modify it according to the note you have to obtain: smaller for a high pitched note, bigger for a low pitched note.

9. Say “Kah”, then say “Koh” and then say “Kooh”. Say it again: “Kah”-“Koh”-“Kooh” and try to imagine your tongue position and shape inside your mouth.

10. Say it again but drawing.

11. Take again your harmonica and start drawing the fourth hole with your tongue in the “Kah” position and without stopping your breathing try to move your tongue to the “Koh”-“Kooh” position.

12. If you play another instrument or if you have a sound generator, listen to the note you want to obtain before trying to bend, try to memorize that sound and it will be easier to create it with your harmonica with bending technique.

13. Use a chromatic tuner, so you can check the pitch of new notes obtained while bending.

14. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t bend at your first attempt, take a breath and try again. You need to get confident with this new way of creating notes, so take your time.

15. Bending is not only a way to add more expression to your notes, but is also the way to add more notes to your instrument and is the key that opens the blue notes door hidden inside your major tuned diatonic harmonica.

If you are new trying to play the blues with your harp, I hope these basic tips will help you to get more involved with blues harmonica techniques. In my website you can find a lot of other tips in the “News” section and a complete “Video Lessons” tutorial section that can drive you quickly from a beginner level to a medium-advanced one.

And remember to have fun while playing your blues harp! Enjoy it.

P.D.

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