Bending, overbend and the tongue's role


Bending and overbending are indispensable skills in playing harp. There, the position and situation of tongue will determine success in the implementation, control the pitch as well. Am I right? And I would like to learn about:

  • Should I make bending by deep relaxed mouth position, or by tongue block, Which one is better? or both?
  • Once you’re bending, does the tongue touching the harp or not?
  • Similar to overbending, does the tongue touching the harp or not?
  • Once a song have to play with overbend, (or you chose to play in positions need to performe overbending), can you play in fast, or just normal speed? or only the slow rhythm music to be suitable with overbending?

HNG ::slight_smile: :o ???

I would learn to bend starting with the deep relaxed mouth position. It’ll be easier but that’s just me ;D Then once you
master that you can try tongue block bending :stuck_out_tongue:

For me when I bend my tongue goes down below my bottom teeth :slight_smile: Depending on if its a 1/2 or whole or 1 1/2 step bend
is how I determine how far my tongue goes down :-\ But it starts for a 1/2 step bend just at the bottom of my bottom teeth.
Whole step a little further back and 1 1/2 a little further more. Practice and experiment slowly till you get it 8)

I do not believe your tongue touches the harp at all unless of course your tongue blocking 8)

I think you can play fast with bending it’s just more of a challenge :smiley: (overbending) haven’t quite got there yet :-\

Thats how I do it. Lots of work to get the bends going. But it’s fun because when you get them it’s like a major hurdle.

Harp On!!

- Should I make bending by deep relaxed mouth position, or by tongue block, Which one is better? or both? - Once you're bending, does the tongue touching the harp or not? - Similar to overbending, does the tongue touching the harp or not?

Hi hng,

I would recommend that you start with the deep relaxed embouchure. After you are comfortable with that, work on tongue blocking. I switch between both tongue block and lip block all the time, depending on what I’m trying to play (and so does JP)! :slight_smile:

I know some harmonica players who play tongue block exclusively…and they can do both bends and overbends using this embouchure. I find it extremely difficult to do lip blocked overblows…it’s really difficult. So, I switch to lip block if I need an overblow.

Tongue blocked bends are more difficult than lip blocked bends (for me), but I can pull them off. They have nice “talky” sound. :slight_smile:

Learn both, but I think it would be a good idea to start with lip blocking.


Something I’d like to add to the suggestions is do not forget about “Articulations.”

Jon Gindick says that bending doesn’t come from the lips and/or front of mouth – Rather, from the back of the throat.

Without the harp, with mouth open as if it had the harp in it – On on inhale, say the word “Kee” “Kee” several times. When done correctly, the back of tongue will actually drop, the ‘glottis’ area will open, and you’ll feel the rush of cool air as it rushes in.

The next part of this, on the same inhale is to say “Koo” “Koo” several times. If done correctly, the mouth, tongue and throat will take a proper wider position.

Put both Kee-Koo together; and on inhales, your mouth, throat and tongue should form to the proper embouchure for bending.

Place the harp in your mouth; on the 1, 2, 3, and/or 4 hole – “Kee-Koo” will help sound the bends you want to hear.

To remember Kee-Koo, it’s simply articulating Cookie backwards.

The interesting thing about using Kee-Koo is that it works on both lip and tongue blocks.

Over time, as you develop muscle memory, you should be able to use the “Koo” to hit the correct bend first without the need for slurring via the “Kee” portion of it.

Of course, it’s all up to you to develop these techniques; as well as only experience and your own playing will guide you when to interchangeably use either the lip or tongue blocks methods.

Hope this helps!

Good luck!

Keep us posted!

Rock on, yo!

Thank you for all of your comments, friends 8)

  • To me, when bending, I’m applying deep mouth relaxed embouchure to holes 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 and tongue blocked for holes 4, 5, 6. How do you think it’s good or not? ??? ::slight_smile:
  • Overbending: I can only be achieved when the tongue touching the harp. What’s your advices, touching is good or not? : :o ??? ::slight_smile:
    It’s hard to me to play overbending with fast rhythm musics. Is this a limitation when applying overbending?
    Favorite harp.

I just picked up my Manji in A while reading this…

I’m not an overblower per se…

But I’ve been able to hit the overblows on 8-10 with both pucker and tongue blocking; using the DoYou-YouDo articulations also.

So guess there’s no right or wrong, this or that way to get there…Just find YOUR WAY, and you’ll be happy you did!

Rock on, yo!