Tunes like “All Young” and “Cluck Old Hen” which have a flatted 7th somewhat require playing in cross position while a tune like Ed Haley’s “Indian Squaw” and “Half Past Four” or The East Texas Serenaders’ “Combination Rag” might be best played with two harmonicas to cover both positions. Sousa’s popularity was in part the inspiration for the branding of the most popular harmonica model of all time: the Hohner Marine Band. See more ideas about gospel song, harmonicas, songs. So you don’t have to hunt on the YouTubes, the superlative prose here is supported by 26 of the most relevant recorded examples. My father learned his rhythmic tongue blocking style of straight harp from a black playmate in the 1930’s in Halifax County, Virginia. The harmonica was firmly established as a cultural icon by the 1870s, for better or worse: “The youths of Salt Lake are preying upon neighboring settlements under the guise of giving “harmonica” concerts. In some such way The first harmonica and fiddle duet on record was recorded in 1925. . Among the inmates were two darkeys, one of whom got a banjo, and the other one a mouth organ, while another inmate had a fiddle. There was plenty of old-time harmonica action happening outside the Opry as well. It has a wooden comb, which may swell or shrink. The small size and portability of the mouth organ makes it an attractive instrument for musicians playing jazz, folk, country, blues, and rock music on the theater stage or at home in the living room. My hands were too soft from a life-long lack of hard labor and I was turned away at the gate. E.F. “Poss” Acree recorded the “Missouri Waltz” and the “Chicken Reel,” Oliver Sims recorded “Hop About Ladies,” several from Henry Whitter like “Peek-A-Boo”. This young scholar was likely a sophomore [Evening Star, Washington DC, 18 Dec 1885]. Also, the curve on the cover plate and slightly smaller size might make it feel strange to some players. Dr. Bate, the “Dean” of The Grand Ole Opry, would also make the first appearance on WSM (on a show that would later be renamed The Grand Ole Opry), followed by DeFord Bailey and The Crook Brothers band, a string band featuring duet harmonicas with banjo and two guitars. DeFord Bailey, Herman Crook, Henry Whitter, Will Shade (leader of the Memphis Jug Band), Noah Lewis (of Cannon’s Jug Stompers), could also switch back and forth between “bluesy” cross position and more melodious standard position. I even tried to infiltrate them, posing as a repentant child returning home from Rumspringa so as to unearth the ancient mysteries of the harmonica. Others eventually caught on, and they began mass-producing harmonicas for both personal play and theater performances. A follow-on article ought to detail its decline and the attempts to maintain the tradition: from the Great Depression to field recordings and contemporary players. A list of lyrics, artists and songs that contain the term "1800s" - from the website. This mastery is best demonstrated with Gwen’s “Wilkes County Blues.”, Of course, this piece falls outside the category of an “old-time” tune, but he did use these techniques to accompany fiddle players on more common “old-time” tunes such as “All Night Long.”. He switches out of cross position for Fisher’s hornpipe. what a great run down of old time harp masters! by Hal Leonard Corp. 4.3 out of 5 stars 78. He doesn’t play the piano—his performances are all on a simply toy harmonica, but although he is only a baby as yet, he handles the instrument like a master, and plays twenty-eight different tunes on it. Due to its affordability and sheer quantity, however, it’s pretty safe to assume there were more fiddle tunes being played on harmonica than on the fiddle at some point in our history. Amazing article, I didn’t know of many of these guys and I’ve studied quite a bit. THE BLUES. Paperback. Seth’s great-grandmother played the harmonica (a 1920s Flying Ace from the F.R. Check your inbox or spam folder to confirm your subscription. After splitting off from Barnum to join a minstrel troupe, Bathman traveled up and down the Mississippi tooting his harmonica for river town audiences. Great stuff! A generation before the Rat Pack, there was the Old 97 Wrecking Crew. I enjoyed this super informative article and all the sample clips of the players considered ‘old-time’ as opposed to ‘blues’. Of course, in oldtime there are no "right" answers, but Craig's combination of experience and technical knowledge is surely a great place to start. With practice, the harmonica player will learn different techniques such as the pucker, the lip-block, and the U-block to play notes and chords. The chord can be quickly extinguished by reversing the movement. FREE Shipping on orders over $25 shipped by Amazon. Sousa’s marches would be booming in their ears as well. Unfortunately Lundy was upset that the harmonica was too loud in the recording and never made more commercial recordings, but he was recorded in Galax by Lomax in 1941. Having played the drums while growing up in California in the 1970s, banging away to... One in every pocket: the rise of the harmonica in old-time music, Access to the 2019 Oldtime Central Festival Guide PDF, All the latest articles, reviews, videos, and more, Exclusive offers and content only available to subscribers,, “It’s the tunes that matter and the people that play them.”, Chinquapin Hunting – fiddle lesson with Dakota Karper, Katherine Jackson French: Kentucky’s Forgotten Ballad Collector, Clawhammer Banjo and the Great Fingernail Dilemma, Highlander’s Farewell: fiddle lesson with George Jackson, Instrument Maker Finds Life Calling In The Scraps Of The Past. Harmonica. One of the first things you’ll wanna learn on the harmonica, and which will open up the world of playing songs for you, is how to deliberately only play one note on the harmonica – instead of hitting a couple of notes at the same time – which is essentially the “default” sound of the harmonica.There are two main ways to That’s the way it started out, and it’s not supposed to be a change in it.”  – Herman Crook, 1974, Old-time is like the Amish community of music with its baked-in resistance to change (outside of Ithaca and the recent adoption of plucked upright double bass). While Ralph Peer was busy setting the foundation for the Cracker-Barrel country-music industry, the harmonica was reaching its peak in popularity in the homes and hands of millions of real “folk.”. Today’s analogy to Vernon Dalhart would be a Suzuki-trained violinist going to a high-dollar music school to learn how to play the “authentic old time.”  ( Perhaps Dalhart was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame to pave the way for other insurgents like the Canadian Shania Twain or Australian Keith Urban, two artists with stage names conjured up in a board room somewhere in Nashville. The modern-day harmonica originated in Germany in the early 1800s. In the early days, it must have been a coveted possession since the first couple of mentions in newspapers outside of advertisements are threats to expose thieves who stole them in Salt Lake City and Nashville. This was also the first appearance of African Americans in the moving pictures. By 1832, harmonicas were advertised from Natchez to New York, soon followed by the rest of the country. How... Dom Flemons, quoted frequently in last week’s article by Timothy Jones on rhythm bones and old-time music, here tells his story of discovering bones, and how he has integrated them into his vibrant and extensive musicianship as a former member of the Grammy-winning Carolina... At first, as I was coming to love oldtime music as an adult, I found it curious that percussion and rhythm instruments seemed to play such a minor role. Ernest Stoneman took fiddler Emmet Lundy with him on a trip to New York City where they recorded two harmonica and fiddle duets with “Piney Woods Girl” and “The Long Eared Mule.” In 1926, he recorded harmonica with fiddle with “Fiddler Joe” Samuels, Hattie Stoneman, and Kahle Brewer. Many recordings and other artists were omitted. What strings should I use? Sonny Terry also experimented with playing fiddle tunes in cross on an album with Pete Seeger during the folk revival days. Hotz company) and was one of six people known to be recorded playing the quills (a precursor to the harmonica predominantly played in African American tradition). The harmonica was a common tool to test new audio technologies. As a child in the 1870s he entered the music business, playing from town to town with his trio: Boone on harmonica accompanied by a tambourine player and a triangle player. Quite a few old-time harmonica solos were also recorded. Illiterate people, and people cut off from newspapers and books, isolated and lonely,-thrown back on primal resources for entertainment and for the expression of emotion,-utter themselves through somewhat the same character of songs as did their forefathers of perhaps a thousand years ago. A lot of people do not think that these little wind instruments can play actual chords, or full, unaccompanied songs for that matter. Others include The Blue Ridge Mountaineers (Clarence McCormick), The Blue Ridge Entertainers (Gwen Foster), Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers (Fate Norris), Luke Highnight’s Ozark Strutters (Luke Highnight), The Red Fox Chasers (Bob Cranford), The Floyd County Ramblers (Walter Boone), the Aiken County Stringband (unknown harmonica player), Herschel Brown & His Washboard Band (unknown), the Carolina Ramblers String Band (unknown), the Cherokee Ramblers (Skinny Anglin), Da Costa Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters (Price Goodson), and Richard Cox & His National Fiddlers (unknown). In the middle of the 19 th century, Crain says, harmonicas were little more than glorified pitch pipes, but by the late 1800s, harmonica makers in Germany, some from families of clockmakers, had figured out how to turn the devices into actual instruments. North Carolina harmonica players like Gwen Foster, Francum Braswell, and Dave McCarn took straight harp harmonica to new levels with their “raggy” styles. ballad and in the creation of local songs. His connection with traditional music is dubious given his conservatory background and operatic approach to singing country music. Download the tab & notation for this blues harmonica lesson. Credence Clearwater Revival included harmonica music in their hit song “Down on the Corner.” Ella Fitzgerald typically included harmonica music in her live performances. The style and material used for the cover plate will determine the overall tone and sound of the harmonica. Here’s a deconstructed harmonica so you can see the inner workings. Here are my picks for the Top 10 best American Civil War songs. Gwen Foster (of The Carolina Tar Heels and Blue Ridge Mountain Entertainers) and Kyle Wooten recorded both ways. I would like to learn how to play “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban, if you can get that on for some free harmonica songs next time. Some musicians learn a special technique called “vocaling.” To perform this type of playing, you would actually speak words or sing into the mouthpiece. Unlike the usual folky and happy vibes that the harmonica is associated with, here the harmonica puts the whole song into the saddest mood that made this song one of the most popular funeral songs ever. A harmonica consists of an outer case made out of plastic, wood, or metal called the “comb.” Inside the small case sit reeds that vibrate when the musician blows or draws air through the 10 holes on the edge of the instrument. The harmonica was the first device that could promise a thousand songs in your pocket. 171 Chestnut Street, has it for sale, at the price of three dollars and a half.” That’s about $94 in today’s dollars, adjusting for inflation. The harmonica by now was played by everyone from paupers to presidents. Thanx for posting! The mouthpiece of the harmonica helps the musician by making blowing and drawing air through the reeds more comfortable. Dad held his harp only while like Ernest I learned to use it on a frame while backing myself up with guitar or banjo as well. Last Christmas my father got me a mouth organ, and I learned to play on it pretty good, but it is broken now. A cover plate surrounds the reeds, usually made out of metal or plastic. Zirom likely got out of military service due to bone spurs. But they weren’t stolen for money, since by then they were often sold brand-new for less than $2.50 in today’s dollars. Pete Hampton, an African American (b. 1” Jones, who played fiddle tunes in the cross position while playing guitar, singing, and humming into, presumably, a stovepipe. The recording generation of players grew up in the heyday of ragtime, early blues, and trad jazz, but would still be well rooted in the oral traditions of their communities. It is delightfully sweet and exact, and may be played with ease, and carried in the pocket. There was considerable cross over of blacks and whites who influenced each other I would say. Online, everywhere. This was an impossible task (luckily, I gave it another go in my follow-up posts 10 More Irish Songs You Need to Know).. Thanks so much for the free the free Christmas music. Due in part to the mobility of the instrument, Kansas was a hotbed for harmonica. 99. This is the same Whitter that old-time players might recognize from the duo of Grayson and Whitter: “a blind fiddler and a deaf guitar player.”. The mund-harmonica, or mouth-harmonica, is also capable, in his hands, of performing a duet, and by means of some skillful method of tonguing, he gives a staccato bass accompaniment to some of his melodies.”. Thank you, Seth! The Marine Band harmonica is the original blues harmonica. Ernest Stoneman recalled that, as a child, “I wore out a wheelbarrow load of harmonicas trying to learn to play them.” It was estimated that there were solidly 13 million harmonica “players” around this time, and that number rose to nearly 40 million by the 1960s [M.S. Only 4 left in stock (more on the way). In 1929, Spouse proved that even a sweet, but boring tune like Old Folks at Home could win a national harmonica contest given enough variations and speedy jig-time conversions. Best article and soundbites of old timey harmonica I’ve ever seen and heard. Small enough to fit in the hand or a pocket, the harmonica produces a variety of sounds when the musician blows and draws air through the reeds. The harmonica was the first device that could promise a thousand songs in your pocket. The invisible magic of separating melody and rhythm on this simple folk instrument was revealed to the audience. Listeners, omitting the first commercial recording of harmonica in history would mean diminishing Pete Hampton’s lived experience as he came of age in the peak popularity of the “Coon Song” genre. These annotated examples are available for listening at Pat Missin’s website ( and do include some traditional material. 211-221]. Stainless steel coverplates rounded at the mouthpiece ABS comb with recessed German Silver reedplates Stainless steel rivets and screws The Seydel Session Steel is a perfect harmonica for playing blues songs. Reeds are typically made out of brass, steel, aluminum, or plastic. Ben Hewlett. There I found nestled deep in the blues section the compact disc “Harmonica Masters” from Yazoo. The smaller one plays the banjo and he does not look much larger than a good-sized baby. A special slide on a chromatic harmonica enables sharp and flat notes. He has several of these arranged, in different keys, so as to give more variety to his performance; and perhaps the strangest part of it is the way in which by making a sort of artificial bell with his concave hands, he gives swell and diminuendo, the effects of echo and of distance, and in short makes it quite a new instrument. Christian Bauschmann was a musician and inventor in Germany, and in 1822, he designed a new instrument that he called an “aura.” This instrument had 15 reeds. >> Sign up for the Oldtime Central newsletter and get: You have entered an incorrect email address! These books typically include cowboy favorites that have been around since the 1800s. BOB DYLAN'S SONGS HARMONICA GUITAR 1964 VINTAGE SONG BOOK NOTATION CHORD LYRICS . The original intent of the instrument was to use it as a pitch pipe in conjunction with other instruments. The two decades following this saw some harmonica recorded when artists were still flirting with the idea that the instrument could be taken seriously by real musicians. Thanks Seth for all the rare clips and information on the players whose music was preserved in those recordings for us to be inspired by now. Alternate tunings are well utilized on the stringed instruments because, when taken to their extremes, those tunings produce distinctive and impressive abilities. Jan 4, 2021 - Explore Ben Wer's board "Gospel songs- harmonica tabs", followed by 101 people on Pinterest. Vintage Chromatic Koch Slide Germany and Silvertone Professional Harmonicas. Like Strong and Stepp, however, there were masterful harmonica players like Freeman Stowers, Sonny Terry, Noah Lewis, and Palmer McAbee, who created masterpieces. Some chords require use of the tongue to block certain holes. The Black Perspective in Music, 11(1), 22. doi:10.2307/1215141]. Although harmonicas appear simple in design, these mouth harps are actually a very difficult and complicated instrument to learn and master. The modern-day harmonica originated in Germany in the early 1800s. Licht, “Harmonica Magic:  Virtuoso Display in American Folk Music,” Ethnomusicology, Vol. Ernest V. Stoneman made it into the Country Music Hall of Fame without having to change his name, accent, or birth country. This article has mostly focused on standard tuning in old-time harmonica because, in my opinion, it is the only good way to compete on volume with a strong fiddler. The modern harmonica is thought to have been invented in Germany in the mid-1800s. The harmonica question can only be settled when the city council passes an ordinance defining the possession of one of these instruments of torture a misdemeanor, and punishable by six months.” [Salt Lake Evening Democrat, Utah, 1885] It does take some talent and practice to make the harmonica sound halfway decent, but these basic skills can be had with a mere ten hours of practice. His songs have been recorded by Bob Dylan, Peter Case, and John Hammond Jr. Jefferson's crucial early work has been collected on "King of the Country Blues." Between the three of them (Dr. Bate and his Possum Hunters, DeFord Bailey, and The Crook Brothers) 21 78-rpm recordings were issued 1928. His favorite contemporary old-time harmonica player is Dave Rice of Ohio via Oklahoma. This is a classic tune which every fiddler learns - it’s a good beginner's way of getting to sound fiddley.You play the melody on one string, and use the open string next to it as a drone, which creates a double stop. So in 1904, the same year as the first old-time harmonica playing was recorded commercially by Pete Hampton, some millions of harmonicas landed in the Christmas stockings of the century’s youngest generation. Herman Crook of the Crook Brothers certainly found a niche with this and laid track with that style professionally for six decades on the Grand Ole Opry. . His harmonica interlude in this song is in itself a thoughtful composition of the different showpiece styles popularly played on the instrument in the late 1800s. $16.99. For example, saying the sounds “too wee” into the mouthpiece creates a distinctive train whistle sound with the harmonica. The only time he has shown any fear was at a Grand Army social. Mr. Willig, No. Some variation of this mouth organ dates back approximately 1,000 years to Asia. It was soon much more affordable. 2 (May, 1980), pp. Three of the first entertainers on the Grand Ole Opry heavily featured harmonica players with different styles playing old-time fiddle tunes. “Herr Wallach is a recent German resident of Manchester, who for some ten years past has had a musical passion, penchant, or hobby, which has resulted in his elevating the little, rude, wooden harmonica of Germany and Switzerland into a metallic instrument, neat and small, played by placing it to the lips, and capable of considerable musical tone and expression. Stevie Wonder even played the harmonica in some of his recorded songs. I am very fond of music. Some exceptions exist. At first, he played harmonica duets with his brother for six years and then, when his brother left the band to become a police officer, Herman incorporated a fiddle into the band to share the melody line. That drove the industry to economically-disadvantaged parts of Europe, where workers shifted back and forth between working in traditional agriculture and taking industrial jobs. The fiddle is, of course, the main instrument in old time music. A vagrant with a harmonica is worth a whole lot more than a vagrant without one, submitting Bob Dylan as evidence. He also includes a refresher on the finer points oldtime bowing, applicable to many other tunes as well. The harmonica became popular in the 1800s as a means of traveling music. Vernon Dalhart, as far as I know, didn’t record fiddle tunes. The harmonica is indelibly associated with the popular image of the cowboy, playing his plaintive, warbling melodies to wile away the evening hours and calm the cattle. New hybrids appeared by each region, but all of the recorded blues from the early 1900s are distinguished by simple, rural acoustic guitars and pianos. It was a style similar to that used by Ernest Stoneman and others from the Blue Ridge area where I live who were mentioned in the article. A plus sign is placed after a number if the note is to be blown. The tongue is blocking the nearby holes, and when lifted off the wood, air rushes in to create a chord. 8tracks radio. Other artists capturing American life including Thomas Hart Benton and Norman Rockwell often featured harmonica in their art. Kyle wooten, Deford bailey Gwen foster will slade etc… love love this article … makes me want to drag out my old harmonica CD’S. My teacher told me of you [Santa] the other day. He played “Home, Sweet Home” so well that the old veterans fairly raised the roof with their applause. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is a renowned call and response black gospel song in which the preacher sings the first line and the congregation responds.When a slave heard this tune, he would know that he had to be prepared for the big escape. 1864 in Miami, Missouri). These numbers indicate the hole to be played. Terrific. In addition to posting ad-free content to YouTube, passing up more than a dollar a year in earning potential, Seth teaches old-time harmonica annually at the SPAH convention under the patronage of the great Joe Filisko (Society for the Preservation and Advancement of Harmonica), various old-time festivals, and remotely upon request. In this lesson, Nashville, TN oldtime fiddler George Jackson teaches the classic Emmett Lundy version of "Highlander's Farewell." Just wow!!!! It was easy enough for even the youngest children. Paperback $16.99 $ 16. - stream 70 harmonica playlists including Bob Dylan, blues, and folk music from your desktop or mobile device. The guitar/harmonica self-accompaniment songster format was recorded by Henry Whitter, Ernest Thompson, Ernest Stoneman, and Vernon Dalhart (Marion Try Slaughter) within months of one another. (A double stop means playing two different notes at the same time.) “Diatonic” means that the instrument plays in a standard scale and specific keys such as the key of C. Diatonic harmonicas have 10 holes with notes arranged in a special pattern. The term “cross harp” wasn’t defined until the 1960s in an effort to taxonomize harmonica playing to set “blues” playing apart from standard, “straight harp” hillbilly music. He has cameo harmonica appearances on “The Women Wear No Clothes At All” by The Old 78s (Curly Miller and Carole Anne Rose, Clarke Buehling, Paul McGowen, and Ray and Melanie Palmer) and in a duet with David Bragger in his Old-Time Tiki Parlour and was interviewed by and played tunes with Benjamin Smith for Oldtime Central. Even a beginner with very little musical background can enjoy playing a harmonica. Absolute Beginners - Harmonica Hal Leonard Corp. 4.4 out of 5 stars 990. Plenty of old-timers across racial lines could switch back and forth at will. Musicians like Little Walter, Bob Dylan and John Lennon have played it, among many others. This additional range enables the musician to play music in a variety of keys. superlatives fail. He never parted from his harmonica playing during those years and “organized a minstrel company in the regiment” to entertain the troops [The Music Trade Review, 1911]. In 1887, a reporter saw fit to write: “For several days two small boys have been going around the streets picking up stray nickels to live on by playing a banjo and French harp.