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I'm Out of the Closet

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Joel H
Sep 06, 2009 6:38 PM GMT

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Sep 06, 2009 6:39 PM GMT
Joel H Replied:

I havemostlybeen a closet harmonica player. Recently I have begun performing for friends and family. It is because of their urging that I have become public with the fact the I fool around with these things.

My presence needs work and need to figure out how to be more entertaining with this thing stuck in my mouth.

Anyway, for what it is worth, I hope you enjoy.

Sep 09, 2009 4:15 AM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

Well Done!

It's a great 1st tune to learn to. You get chords with some single note action over top.

It is the traditional sound that began the harmonica's history.

Sep 11, 2009 3:28 AM GMT
Joel H Replied:


My research is still in the works.

I play a basic tongue block melody with chords accompaniment. I also try to toss in octave blocking to fake the bass line (I don't think it works to well with the built in mike on my camera).

So far I have based my playing on the natural layout of the 10 hole Richter system. Chords to the left, melody to the right. As far as I can tell this was the idea for the layout.

I think of it as a diatonic single row button accordion, and play in an imitation.

Of course, I'm not writing anything that folks here don't already know.

Sep 11, 2009 3:31 AM GMT
Joel H Replied:

Sep 11, 2009 8:44 PM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

Nicely done with a very good ending.

You can add some expression with your hands, by cuppping and opening to give it a "whoa" sounding effect. Then on the 1 beat is when you open your hand cupping to give it the Whoa da da da daaa da, daa daa da, da daa da, Whoa da da da .....

Bye the way, have you started refurbishing the manjo/banjo yet? Hows it going?

Sep 15, 2009 3:46 AM GMT
Joel H Replied:

For some reason my last reply did not post, so I'll try again.

Thanks! I have not been able to determine how common the practice of covering the harmonica to produce a tremolo effect was. I have found a early review of a concert where they describe using it for dynamics. There are also catalog listings for Carl Essbach's miniature concert (octave) harmonicas where they state that it "can be covered with the hands, same as the Richters." That is from the mid 1890s.

So the practice of covering was common enough. I do like the nice full sound I get by allowing the cover plates to vibrate when I hold the harp by the edges.

I have been meaning to post a video of Foster's "Old Black Joe" with glass or tumbler tremolo effect.

I have pulled the resonator off and removed the old strings. The rim has been put out of round by almost a full inch. I will try to use heat clamping to try and correct it. The neck looks serviceable, as well as the tuning machines. If I can correct the rim it should work fine. Otherwise I will keep my eyes out for a replacement.

Sep 15, 2009 4:28 AM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:


Your dedication to historical accuracy is impressive. You may find looking up the following musician from Germany who also is committed to being faithful to historical practices of musicianship. His name is "Lubos Bena". Look him up on YouTube. This does not answer your concerns below, but you seem to share the same enthusiasum for tradition.

The traditional hand position from my experiance is the left hand holds the harmonica between the thumb and index finger. see Also there is a quick read on hand Tremoo at:

Hey... How is the Banjo/Manjo refurbish going?

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