Hello Harmonica Lovers!
Many beginning players are confused about harmonica notes, particularly since some of them appear to be “missing”. This articles shows the notes on a harmonica and the “missing notes” found on a harmonica.
Harmonicas come in a variety of keys styles and colors. In the diagram below blow means the note when blowing into a hole, draw means the note when breathing in. This note layout is called the “Richter tuning.”
Look at holes 4 to 7. The notes from these holes are C, D, E, F, G, A, C, B which make up a C major scale. Not surprising for a harmonica in the key of C.
However holes 1 to 4 are different starting from hole 1 the notes are C, D, E, G, G, B, C, D Very confusing. Unlike holes 4 to 7, these lower notes do not make up a major scale. However look at blow notes 1 to 4, which are C, E, G, and C. These notes make a C major “chord”you blow into the first 4 holes to get this chord.
Now look at holes 4 to 7 the blow notes are also C, E, G, and C another C chord. The blow notes for holes 7 to 10 are also C, E, G and C another C chord. So all the blow notes on a C harmonica come from the C chord.
The draw notes on holes 1 to 4 are D, G, B, and D. These notes all come from the G chord, which is a very important one when playing in the key of C. Blow and draw repeatedly on holes 1 to 4 and you can hear how the two chords seem to match each other?
The Missing Harmonica Notes?
As outlined above arranging the harmonica to provide chords means that some notes are “missing” particularly in the bottom holes. However a common harmonica technique called “bending” allows these missing notes to be found and played.
Bending harmonica notes involves changing tongue position mouth shape and breath pressure and is often very challenging for harmonica players when first starting to bend notes. But with a lot of practice and proper instructions you’ll learn that bending a note lowers its pitch. Bending is done mostly on the draw holes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6, and blow holes 8, 9 and 10. The diagram below shows the notes commonly obtained through bending on a C harmonica.
The regular blow and draw notes for the C harmonica are shown in bold. Looking at the draw bends notice that a single extra note is available from holes 1, 4 and 6. Some players also bend draw hole 5 a little, but it doesn’t give you an extra note.
The 2 hole draw allows two extra bent notes while the 3 hole draw allows 3 extra bent notes. Controlling all of these notes takes much practice but is a skill known to most advanced players and is worth the effort to learn properly bending is used in a lot of harmonica music.
Advanced Technique for Harmonica Players!
A single extra bent note is available from blow holes 8, 9 and 10. A very small group of players can get two distinct bent notes from the 10 blow. Even more notes are available using an advanced technique called overblowing.
Did you know anything about harmonica notes?
Did you know about bending notes on the harmonica?
Do you know how to bend notes on a harmonica?
Have you ever heard of the technique overblowing?
Have you ever used the technique overblowing?
Has this article helped you out in any way?
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