Re: Playing by ear,music or tabs. Help

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Posted by Marc on May 31, 2001 at 21:22:38:

In Reply to: Playing by ear,music or tabs. Help posted by Rich on May 31, 2001 at 18:06:39:

: I have been trying to figure out for a long time just what level harmonica player I am. I've never played in public. I stated on this sight before that I play straight harp and mostly the melodies of songs - pretty much any song I hear, I can play myself and also play along with the music. I keep reading of folks on this site looking for music or tabs. I really want to know if most harmonica players use music and tabs or do most listen to a song and play it by ear? I guess it may be 50/50. I've had a couple people tell me that playing melodies in straight harp is difficult. Is this true? I find cross harp difficult. I am wondering if I am like the guitar player who learned to play the instrument upside down because that's the way he /she first picked it up. I am also now looking for a music festival - probably Bluegrass - where folks just sit and play. I want to see if I can play with others. I love this sight.... Input appreciated.

Most good harmonica players play by ear. They either work out a song by listening to it, or they make up their own stuff. Part of jazz training (on any instrument) is transcribing recorded solos. It trains your ear, makes you a more critical listener, and introduces you to different styles, licks, etc., that you may want to incorporate into your own playing. The only time I find tabs helpful is if I write some music and want to remember it for future reference. I use musical notation for this, but tabs serve the same purpose.

I think a big stumbling block for many players is that they don't know what key of harmonica to use for a given song. With time and practice, your ear will learn this. Until then, you can use references like the "Song Keys" section on this site. Once you have the right harmonica, let your ear do the work. It's hard and slow at first, but it pays big dividends down the road.

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