Q: How do I communicate how to play something on the list ?

A: This is but one suggestion from the list -- from "Harp Tab" 16 Oct 93, 23 Sep 94 WY:

OK, I had a request to re-post the ASCII harp tab (one request - Twist my arm).

In this message, I'm proposing a method more like the traditional arrow-and-number method, which allows you to

- notate long melodies

- use or not use rhythmic notation

- add chord symbols, lyrics

- write "scores" that include chord charts and independent instrumental lines

- notate actual pitches instead of harp-specific hole & breath info

- indicate musical structure, with repeats, second endings, and codas.

You can keep it as simple as you like, with just hole & breath info, or get fancy with full-blown scores, or anything in between.

I haven't seen the other proposals made, so I don't know if this contains anything that people have already dismissed, but I think this system is flexible enough to be very versatile, while still conveying exact information whenever desired.


===Hole and Breath

1B is Hole 1 Blow

2D is Hole 2 Draw

===Bend and Overblow

b is bend down 1 semitone (flat) bb is bend down 2 semitones bbb is bend down 3 semitones

x is overblow (the basic amount varies depending on the tuning in any given hole) #x is overblow, and bend up one semitone xx is overblow and bend up two semitones

===Special Effects

= is warble, or rapidly alternate two holes. as in 3D=4D


Time Signature can be indicated as 4/4 3/4 etc.

Time values:

o is a whole note - 4 beats d is a half note - two beats / is a quarter note - 1 beat (you see this in chord charts) ' is an eighth note - half a beat " is a sixteenth note - a quarter of a beat * is a thirty-second note

RESTS occur whenever no hole/breath indication appears under a note value.

Any note can be increased by half its value with a dot:

d. = / / /

Two or more notes can be tied together:

/~/~/ = three quarters tied together = d.

And substitute values like triplets, can be notated:

--3-- / / / depicts three quarters in the space of two.

Structure can be indicated:


4/4 / / / / | / / / / | etc.


||: / / / / | / / / / :||

First and second ending:

(1) (2) ||: / / / / | / / / / :|| / / / / |]


D.S. al @

Articulations: . Staccato: / _ tenuto / ^ Marcato /


G7 C7 G7 D7 / / / / | / / / / | / / / / | / / / / ||


' ' | ' ' ' '~' ' | / / / ' '~|~o
Well, My baby left me, she left me high and dry

Actual pitches, independent of the harmonica. The same notes in different octaves can be indicated with a comma for lower (G,) or apostrophe for higher (G') where needed.

C7 F7 C7
' ' | ' ' ' '~' ' | / / / ' '~|~o
Well, My baby left me, she left me high and dry
G G G F E C C G F Eb C C


You can notate several parts together, like, vocal melody and independent harp part:

C7 F7
' ' | / / ' '~ ' ' | / / / ' '~ |
Well, My|Ba by left me, she |left me high and dry |
G G| G F E C C | G F Eb C C |
| | |
| | |
F harp | / ' ' ' ' ' ' | ' ' ' '~/ " " " " |
| 3D 4B 4D 3D 2D bb2D |2B 3B bb3D b3D b4D 4D b4D b3D |

This took a fair amount of work, but it's exact.


Obviously, save ASCII files for uploading.

Turn off word wrap, and associated features like wrap compression (this deletes extra spaces, which notation needs).

Set your margins wide enough, but not too wide for email parameters

Use Insert and Overstrike mode as needed: insert to add extra space in the middle of something already written, overstrike to "erase & correct."

Give it a try -- "Harp Tab" 16 Oct 93, 23 Sep 94 WY


Buy the Book!

I cleaned up my tab for Sonny Boy's Help Me and made it into a short book. There's a Kindle version for 99 cents, and if you buy the paperback you get the Kindle free.

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

I also write Science Fiction, so you can sample some of my best stories. Also available in Kindle format.

Error Message Eyes: A Programmer's Guide to the Digital Soul

Vtg OLSON Bullet Mic Microphone w/Snyder Stand Ham/Harp/Harmonica J0198

End Date: Sunday May-19-2019 10:03:21 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $99.99
Buy It Now |
Vtg TURNER J-254 CB/Ham Radio Desktop Mic Microphone Bullet Head Pro As Is J551

End Date: Sunday May-19-2019 10:08:08 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $49.99
Buy It Now |
Switchcraft Screw-On Microphone Cable Connector For Vintage Astatic JT30 Bullet

End Date: Sunday May-19-2019 11:24:39 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
Buy It Now |
Vintage ASTATIC 10-C "BULLET" Microphone with Model G Base, NICE

$74.99 (0 Bids)
End Date: Sunday May-19-2019 14:03:04 PDT
Bid now |
Canadian Astatic Limited DN-HZ Bullet Microphone

End Date: Sunday May-19-2019 15:16:06 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $150.00
Buy It Now |


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


Harp Frequently Asked Questions