Q: What are the other “positions”?

Harmonica positions (at least diatonic ones; nobody seems to have
established a common practice for chromatic) are numbered according to the
cycle of fifths.

First position is, of course, C on a C harp, as that is the blow
chord and the major scale to which the harp is tuned.

Second position is based on the draw chord, G, which is the next
obvious position. G is the fifth degree of the C major scale.

Third position is based on the D minor draw chord found a little
further up the harp. Again, D is the fifth degree when you count
up from G.

Pretty much everyone agrees on these numberings, but after that,
until recently, everybody made up their own designations
depending on which positions they considered useful.

In the last ten years, players have taken to extending the
practice of going up a fifth for the next position number. We can
go all the way around the chromatic scale this way, naming twelve
positions:

1st
C
12th 2nd
F G

11th 3rd
Bb D

10th 4th
Eb . A

8th 5th
Ab E

8th 6th
Db B
7th
Gb
(F#)

This is for a C harp. For a G harp. you’d have to rotate the
pitch band counterclockwise one position until it was under
“1st.”

Most of the time, you’ll be likely to choose the positions
immediately to the right or left of first as being the most
comfortable — 02 & 04 Jul 94 WY

Or try acronyms 😉 e.g.. Funky Cats Get Down And Enjoy Bad Food During
Another Evening’s Booking !?

Positionally, where 1 = straight harp, 2 = cross, 3= 3rd,etc:

  F  C  G  D  A  E  B F# Db Ab Eb Bb
                Gb C# G# D# A#
 12  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11
  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12
  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12  1
  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12  1  2
  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12  1  2  3
  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12  1  2  3  4
  6  7  8  9 10 11 12  1  2  3  4  5
  7  8  9 10 11 12  1  2  3  4  5  6
  8  9 10 11 12  1  2  3  4  5  6  7
  9 10 11 12  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8
 10 11 12  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
 11 12  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10

— 4 Nov 94 HA

 

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Playing "Help-Me" In the Style of Sonny Boy Williamson II: A step by step, note for note analysis of some of Sonny Boy's Signature Riffs

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The JT30 Page Popular links

I began collecting data about the microphones used by blue harp players before there was an internet. I began organizing it into JT30.com in the late 1990s. I accumulated more stuff than I remember. This is some of it.

Street Theory

A Harp Player’s Guide to Music Theory

Learning Harp

Picking Up Blues Harp

A guide to learning to play Blues Harp

Microphone Information

Usenet Articles


Harp Amps

I've been collecting Harp Amps for a while. This is the old Harpamps.com website. There is lots of information here. Here a coupld of links.


Harp Tab

A collection of songs and riffs that I’ve worked out over the years, plus some libraries of stuff I’ve converted to tablature. I’ve included most of the notes and instructions that helped me when I was learning to play blues harmonica.

Basic Riffs Simple harp tabs for songs Blues riffs and phrases.

Harp-L Archives 1992 to 2002


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Harp Frequently Asked Questions