Beginners to blues harp playing may be baffled by some of the terminology used by experienced players and teachers.
Just for you, here is a short guide to some of the more common terms. Where a good explanation is available elsewhere on this site or on one of the many other harp sites, links are provided:
Positions. You will frequently hear people referring to different positions applicable to the playing of the harp. Very briefly, these relate to the key of harmonica that you select relative to the key that the band is in. The clearest and most comprehensive explanation of positions can be found on Mike Will's excellent site
Second Position. Also known as Cross harp, this is the most common position used by harp players. You are playing in 2nd position when the harp that you select is three whole tone steps up from the key that the band is in. (Or a fifth of the scale up from the band if you find that easier to get hold of.)
So, when the band is in A, you do not choose an A, Bflat, or C harp but you pick a D harp
When the band is in B flat, you do not choose a Bflat, C or D harp but you pick an E flat harp
When the band is in B, you do not choose a B, C or D harp but you pick an E harp
When the band is in C, you do not choose a C, D or E flat harp but you pick an F harp
When the band is in D, you do not choose a D, E flat or F harp but you pick a G harp
When the band is in E, you do not choose an E, F or G harp but you pick an A harp
If you are a guitarist, you will know that blues usually follow a I IV V chord sequence. for example, the I IV V chords for a blues in E are E,A and B. The harp key to choose for second position playing in any key is the key of the IV chord of the tune as you will see by following this link.
Incidentally, a key (no pun intended) selling point of Lee Oskar harps is that the right-hand end of any of his harps has the 2nd position key of the harp stamped on the comb so, for example a Lee Oskar A harp will have "E 2nd Pos" stamped on it - very useful.
Tongue Blocking and Puckering. Quite simply, these are the two main methods of being able to play single notes or chords.
Overdraws. Very topical in these times of financial distress but not really of much interest to the novice harp player. The acknowledged master of overdraws (and overblows) is Howard Levy who explains these on his page
How to Play the Blues Harp
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