Author Topic: What Are Favorite Harmonica Positions and Why?  (Read 2231 times)

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gerard1973

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What Are Favorite Harmonica Positions and Why?
« on: August 06, 2007, 02:54:02 PM »
According to the harmonica research that I came across, about ninety percent of all harmonica players play the 10-hole diatonic harmonica in "cross harp" or second position. that means that the other ten percent play "straight" harmonica in first position, the original way it was designed.

My Favorite Harmonica Positions

1st Position
Here are my favorite harmonica positions. Right now I'm one the the 10% of all harmonica players who play the 10-hole diatonic harmonica the way it was designed to be played. I play "straight" harmonica in the 1st positionn. Why? Because I'm still learning how to bend a note properly and the only way to play a harmonica without any bending is to play your major (Ionian) and minor scales (Aeolian) in first position. This is a very simple position to learn and for playing simple melodies, kids songs, folk songs and country songs. You can play two scales in this position but it is limited in what you can do with it. Blues can be played in this position but it is harder to do. The blues scale is much easier to play in cross harp and is probably why it is played in the 2nd position so much.

2nd Position
I have been doing a lot of work in 2nd position (mixolydian). I like cross harp but in order to play the major, blues, major pentatonic, minor pentatonic, and mixolydian scales in that position, you have to be able to bend two notes correctly. I'm still working on my note bending, so as soon as I perfect my bends a little more to my satisfaction, I will probably be joining the rest of the harmonica world by moving over into the second position.

3rd Position
I've been playing quite a bit in the third position and use this position for only a few songs in the minor keys (Dorian). Right now, I'm playing most of my blues in the 3rd position because in that position, you can play a minor pentatonic scale without any bends. You still need to do one bend in 3rd position in order to play the b5 "blue" note of the blues scale.

4th Position?
I've played around a little with the 4th position. This position is also a minor scale (Aeolian) and is good for the blues but like cross harp, you have to be able to play two bent notes.

5th Position
This is also a minor scale (Phrygian) position but I don't play here because I don't play the harmonica above the the 4th position.

6th position through the 12th position.
This is no man's land for me. I don't play here. I have heard that the 12 position is fairly easy to play and that you can play some great things using that position. But I've never tried it.

So, what are favorite harmonica positions and why?
« Last Edit: August 06, 2007, 03:22:15 PM by gerard1973 »

Larry C

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Re: What Are Favorite Harmonica Positions and Why?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2007, 03:08:03 PM »
 The 90% statistic applies to people who buy a diatonic for the purpose of playing the blues.  The rest of us would play first position.   

gerard1973

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Re: What Are Favorite Harmonica Positions and Why?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2007, 03:40:29 PM »
I didn't know that the 90% statistic applied to the blues. I thought that most harmonica players played EVERYTHING in cross harp because of the bluesy sound. I don't feel like so much of a beginner now. I always wondered why most of the harmonica tablature that I found on the internet was always in the first position. Thank you Lawrence for sharing that with us.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2007, 04:32:44 PM by gerard1973 »