Bending

Bending

Why are there missing notes on a Diatonic Harmonica?

The configuration on a Diatonic Richter Harmonica is a chord concept started by Richter in 1875.
As notes placed between those chords would lead to discords there is no alternative but to leave them out. Only in the middle ranges there is a scale of whole notes.
For the contemporary folkmusic of Mr. Richter from Hayda the tonal possibilities of his note configuration have been sufficient.

However for the Chromatic scales in Rock, Jazz and Classical this note range is not enough.

 

Which are the missing notes on a harmonica?

In this chapter you learn, which are the missing notes.
The following table shows the missing notes as an example for an instrument in C .
You also see in which hole the notes are missing and if these are blow or draw notes.

Missing notes blowside
Eb1     Eb2 f#2 Bb2        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bb3
              Eb3 f#3 B3
Blow c1 e1 g1 c2 e2 g2 c3 e3 g3 c4
hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Draw
d1 g1 b1 d2 f2 a2 b2 d3 f3 a3
Missing notes drawside
Db1 f#1 Bb1 Db2   Ab2        
  f1 a1              
    Ab1              
            Db3   Ab3 Db4


If you would like to start with Blues, a typical Blues lick on this harmonica, for Second Position it would be in G and need the following (Blues) scale:
G - Bb - C - Db - D - F - G


However, Bb in hole3 and Db in hole 4 are not available.

These notes (and all other black bold notes) can be achieved with the 'bending technique'.
The missing notes on the blow side of the harmonica are called 'Blow bends'.
The ones on the draw side of the harmonica are called 'Draw bends' .

The notes marked in yellow are achieved using another, more difficult technique called 'Overblowing'.
 

Bending
In step02 you have learned, which which are the missing notes on a Diatonic Richter harmonica.

In this chapter you will learn how to achieve bends.
We will try to achieve the missing note Db in channel 4 draw of a C tuned
harmonica.
To be able to do this you should know how to play single notes with 'Lipping' or 'Puckering' as shown on our Instructional Sheet for Diatonic Harmonicas
In the following example you will first hear the natural note D, then the Bend in Db, and then again the natural note D.


The Bent note which is lowered a half step can be achieved - while
drawing or inhaling - by pressing the back part of your tongue slightly
upwards and at the same time narrowing the throat space. A tip might be to silently say the syllables from the picture on the right while drawing breath in - to get a feeling for the movement of throat and tongue.
Please don't give up too easily! Every person has a different body structure and there are no fixed rules for how long it will take to learn the knack. The note will finally start to sound if you are willing to achieve it. Just never say die!


In the progress it will improve and a simple melody is possible by phrasing
the bend.


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