Re: A few albums keyed

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Posted by Jeremy Steinberg on December 18, 2002 at 06:48:16:

In Reply to: A few albums keyed posted by Mike Y on December 18, 2002 at 01:25:52:

: Hello,
: When I was learning harmonica, I made a list of several albums I practiced to, with the songs keyed. Here it is. If you would like to get this list in a Microsoft Word format, e-mail me.
: Only the songs with harmonica on them are keyed.
: Good luck.

Hello - It's a great idea to key songs. Here are a few of my thoughts on the issue, over the years...

1) When you say, 'when I was learning harmonica', I infer you've stopped! If so, why?! Stopping just lets your skills get rusty. Five minutes a day isn't hard, and it's better than nothing. Then, there's ten, or fifteen, too..!...

2) It's a great idea to jam with other great harp players, to their records (now mostly CDs). Most of my CDs have the cross-harp (second position) key identified next to the song in the CD case liner notes.

But what about jamming to non-harp blues CDs? Then, you don't 'compete' with a great harp player, and you can work on your own riffs without having to worry about hearing the CD harp line while you jam on your own.

3) Alot of harp players seem to want to imitate, or mimic a great harp player's solo, or riff. That's not a bad idea, particularly if the riff is challenging, and presents unusual 'wrinkles' in technique or tone. Trying to reiterate them challenges you to find, experiment with, and develop tongue/mouth cavity/throat/diaphragm techniques that will enable you to repeat what you hear, on your level. That's a valuable exercise for its spirit and growth potential, but...

4) it's equally important to find and develop your own 'personality' in harmonica playing. Don't ONLY imitate. Try to be original, creative, and go your own directions, even while staying relatively in touch with, and honor the classic players, with their classic techniques, interpretations and messages. A true musician does both.

The greatest harp players, like (to drop a few names) Butterfield, Walter Horton, Little Walter, SB I and II, Musselwhite, Madcat, Howard Levy, Jr. Wells, John Popper, Jerry Portnoy, Carey Bell, Snooky Pryor, Carlos del Junco, Sugar Blue, Mark Hummel, etc. have done both, and are doing both. And that's just diatonic. The same goes for chromatic, with players like Adler, Leo Diamond, Don Les (Harmonicats), Johnny Puleo, Minevitch, Dave McKelvey, Tommy Morgan, Toots, etc.

Regards, Jeremy c/o

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