Judge my harmonica chops

Hi everyone! I feel like I might be opening up a can of worms here, but I would very much appreciate any feedback on my harmonica playing. :blush:

You can find a short introduction of me as a forum member here: Introduce Yourself! - #1097 by jago

I have two short videos from jam sessions I performed at recently. I’m still in the process of learning music theory, how to play in different positions, and how to play alongside other musicians. I’m self-taught and play by ear completely.

I had never played with any of the other musicians featured here before so it’s definitely all improv. Any pointers on my technique? Timing? Thanks for having a listen and letting me know what you think. I don’t know too many harmonica players so would appreciate any honest feedback.

Amplified: Watch 7D41B1CBA75A21F5E407EB2C912BF5A1_video_dashinit | Streamable

Acoustic: Watch vid | Streamable

Thanks! :pray: :musical_note::musical_note::musical_note:

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Hello @jago,
I think both ideas are very good. Be sure to keep going!

Regards from Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:

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Sounds good to me.

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Very cool @jago. I don’t have any technical knowledge to provide advice, but it sounds great. You obviously enjoy playing, so keep at it.

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Hi @jago

I too feel unqualified to offer much – mainly because you are already so good:exclamation:

My preference is the acoustic recording. It seems to me to have not only more interesting phrasings, but also sharper timing.

Keep up the good work,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Thanks so much @Slim @PapaCurly @toogdog @AstridHandbikebee63! I really appreciate it.

It’s hard for me to evaluate my own playing honestly. The same drive that keeps pushing me to improve my skills, also makes me continually see myself as a total novice.

Really great to get some quality feedback (and also positive reinforcement).

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Sounds great to me. I like the acoustic the most.

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You sound very professional!

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Oh, for real @bubby.graves? I would never see myself as anything close to that, but thanks so much. This’ll give me the courage to keep improving and putting myself out there more often. :pray:

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Sounds pretty good to me! Both videos were Great!
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Thanks so much @Terrygh1949, that means a lot!

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@Jago - I think you’re playing sounds great my friend! What I love is that you’re not just talking, you’re actually saying something. In both solos you’re playing really tastefully, and most importantly leaving some space (not overplaying.)

As the great trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie once said - try putting some holes in your playing, maybe some music will fall out. You’re already doing that which puts you ahead of 90% of players in my book.

On both sets, and especially audible on the acoustic set, your use of tongue blocking slaps and splits really adds a lot of texture and blues horsepower to your playing. Also really nice vibrato. And great turnaround licks played in the correct place with good phrasing all make these solos sound professional.

If you wanting some advice on where to go next, I encourage you to explore the upper range of the harmonica to be able to add another chorus of soloing and climax it even more.

Wailing on the -6 is good for this.

Actually busting into a little 3rd position riff can work great -6’ -6 7 -8 7 -6 -6’ -5 -4

In a totally different vibe, but also for creating climax, sliding up to the -8 and then playing something like -8 8 -8 and sliding down -7 -6 6 and then continuing back down into lower bluesy stuff works great.

And working on 10" is one of the greats as well. 10 10" 9 and 9 -9 -8 will give you lots of bluesy stuff up there in that register.

I show how wailing on the -6 and the 10" can add climax to a solo here:

Great stuff @jago. Sounds like you’re underestimating your ability. :+1:t3: Congrats. Keep up the good work!

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Hi @Luke, thanks so much for taking the time to listen. That means a lot! Never had detailed feedback like this before. (I was beginning to think all my attempts regarding tongue blocking slaps et cetera were going completely unnoticed to anyone listening. :laughing: :upside_down_face:)

Huge confidence boost, thanks. And what a lovely quote by Gillespie, I couldn’t agree more. Overplaying has been the one thing I’ve been trying to avoid ever since I got intrigued by the harmonica. (Trying to fix the reputation of our favorite little instrument one song at a time. :wink:) I need to pick it up again but a while back was working on transposing parts of his Birks’ Works to the diatonic. What a great piece that is.

You’re showing your teaching prowess, spot on regarding the upper range, great observation. I’ve actually been working on third position playing recently, trying to get more comfortable playing up there. Just got Blowing the family jewels down to a T. What a creative musician William Clarke was.

Thanks for the specific riff suggestions, that helps a ton. I’ll be sure to watch your video on the ultimate harmonica solo as well. That somehow, and inexplicably, hadn’t made it onto my “watch later” playlist yet.

Wishing you all the best from (atypically) sunny Belgium. About to take my harmonica outside and soak up some vitamin d. :sunny:

Thanks so much, I’m really glad and grateful to have found a space here to share and learn. :pray: :pray: :pray:

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