Breath control, the “exhale push,” and “out gassing”

Active Blues Breath Control: Understanding the nature, extent, and focus of breath control required to play really low down blues takes most people a long time to fully comprehend. The bluesiest sounds are found inhaling on holes one through five. Because of this, we must get in the habit of fully exhaling all the air from our lungs so that we can inhale with maximum sustain and effectiveness. Thinking of a total collapse of the air column in the lungs and a full push down to zero level of breath is what we will refer to as the “exhale push.” This EP is akin to a pitcher’s wind up before he throws a fastball. Luke refers to this as “out gassing.” It is much more difficult to play low down blues without proper preparation and breath negotiation. We try to get folks to aim for a goal of 9 seconds of sustaining, both inhale and exhale. That equates to about two bars depending on speed.


AMEN! Good stuff @davidkachalon - this is THE SECRET WEAPON of the harmonica player. It’s something I didn’t really pay attention to early on, but now I ALWAYS pay attention.

ESPECIALLY when playing in the roots styles of Sonny Terry and DeFord Bailey.


Agree 100% that stuff takes major breathing awareness!

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