Welcome to The Everything® Harmonica Book with CD! It's exciting that you've decided to develop your harmonica skills, and this book will guide you down the path to becoming a solid harp player. By getting this book and a harmonica, you've already taken the first step on your journey to being proficient on this wonderful instrument.
This book is intended for beginner to intermediate harmonica players. You don't have to know anything about harmonica to get started with this book, but even if you have been playing for a little while you'll find that this book contains plenty of useful information to improve your understanding, technique, and musicianship.
The harmonica's history in American culture is a rich and vibrant one. The instrument was an instant hit when first introduced here around the mid-1800s. Its portable size and rich, appealing sound made it a favorite of cowboys, soldiers, hobos, and just about anybody with a pocket.
The harmonica first appeared on the American music scene in blues and folk music, but it has since expanded into many other kinds of music including jazz, rock, country, and classical, and its sphere of musical genres is still growing. Sampled harmonica is showing up on Hip Hop and Techno albums. Wildly overdriven and distorted sounds you'd never believe could be produced by a harmonica are gracing tracks of some modern rock bands. Whatever style of music you want to play, there's a way to fit a harmonica into it.
One reason for the harmonica's wide appeal is that you can play it the first time you try. Even a child can get a nice sound out of a harmonica on the first attempt, and if you're just trying to pick out a melody in the major key the harmonica is in, it almost happens automatically for you because of the way the harmonica is tuned. But simple as the harmonica seems at first, it's also a complicated instrument, and there are a million things to learn before you really master it. Just listen to one Little Walter song if you have any doubt.
Another interesting social aspect of the harmonica is the way it affords musical opportunity to virtually everyone. Since its introduction, the harmonica has been an instrument of choice for people who didn't have the means for expensive instruments or music lessons at the conservatory. As such, it has connected a wide range of people to music on a personal level by providing a simple and accessible instrument to use as a voice for their expression.
Many of the great harmonica players have displayed a willful stubbornness about ensuring the viability of their instrument, taking the instrument's potential for expression well beyond what anyone thought possible by developing new techniques through their diligent play and practice.
The harmonica may not be a Stradivarius violin or a Steinway piano — but can you carry those in your pocket?
To use this book you will need a diatonic harmonica in the key of C. If you don't already have one, here are some recommended instruments to choose from:
- Hohner "Marine Band" C harmonica
- Hohner "Special 20" C harmonica
- Lee Oskar C harmonica
Expect to pay about $20 to $30 for one of these harmonicas at a music store or from an online outlet.
Now it's your turn to enter the rich, vibrant, and electrifying world of harmonica music with The Everything® Harmonica Book with CD as your guide.
How to Use This Book and CD
To get the most out of this book, you should know about some of the notation and terms that will be used throughout this text. Some of it you may have seen before, and some of it may be new to you.
Standard Notation and Harmonica Tablature
For every instructional example that has an accompanying recorded track, there will be one line of standard notation written on the staff, and one line of harmonica tablature below it. Note that the harmonica tab by nature does not indicate rhythmic notation, so you'll have to use the standard notation and the recorded track itself to get that information. Harmonica tab only indicates which hole on the harmonica to play, whether it's a blow note or a draw note, and what kind of bend, if any, to use.
Harmonica diagrams are used to illustrate the harmonica itself. The diagram is a front view of the harmonica, with the ten holes indicated and numbered. Hole 1 on the left side of the diagram has the lowest pitch notes, and hole 10 on the right side has the highest pitch notes.
As often as possible, the examples are played on the accompanying audio CD that is included with this book. The examples are played for you so you can hear the concepts, play along with them, and use them to check yourself. In this book, the CD symbol with a track number underneath it corresponds to the track on the CD. Being able to hear audio examples of the exercises or riffs in the book is very helpful in speeding along your understanding and your progress on the harmonica.