Rhythms of the Breath Vol. 1 by Howard Levy

Just seen Howard Levy post this
The Ultimate Harmonica Book for All Players | Revolutionary New Exercises | Transform Your Playing - YouTube

Sounds interesting, couldn’t hurt. Lord knows I need rhythm, and breath for that matter. He has sample downloads available that I haven’t checked out yet.

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OH WOW @RollyJoe GOD BLESS YOU my friend for turning me onto this. I am absolutely AMAZED by this. I downloaded the free audio examples, and just bought the book on Amazon. Looking forward to checking this out!

I have always been fascinated with drum rudiments. I used to teach drums (along with bass, guitar, and harmonica) and the same way that practicing scales and arpeggios can unlock fluidity for the melodic improviser, practicing rudiments can unlock fluidity for the drummer.

It’s like, “why I am practicing all this weird boring stuff” and the next time you go to play it’s like everything is on another level and, “ooooh, THAT’S why I was practicing all that stuff!” :joy:

Like Howard I have always been interested in applying drum rudiment patterns to melodic instruments in various ways.

For example, one of the early rudiments that trips us all up is the Paradiddle (#16 on the PAS International Rudiments.)

It’s tricky because the double-stroke alternates hands
Paradidle Paradidle
R-L-R-R to L-R-L-L (repeat)

I’ve applied that to the harmonica in a chugging pattern where in this example R=in and L=out
-123 123 -123 -123 to 123 -123 123 123 (repeat)

And it generates some cool ideas. But Howard has taken it to the next level where the double stroke = a slide.

So 1 -1 1 2 to -2 2 -2 -1 (repeat)

The other thing that’s interesting about Howard’s methodology is that from what I can tell it’s devoid of SCALES or MELODIC THEORY. It’s focused instead on applying consistent blow-draw patterns across the harmonica and just seeing what melodic material happens to present itself.

This is a very free approach, and makes the whole thing more palatable for beginning students or for veterans with little theoretical knowledge. But it also ends up being challenging for intermediate and advanced players who HAVE been working on the theoretical knowledge.

I’ll give you an example: I have worked on the seven stroke roll kind of concept before, but applying it within a scale, such as the major scale. So I’m thinking intervallically: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, 1 7 6 5 4 3 2, 2 3 4 5 6 7 1, 2 1 7 6 5 4 3, etc.

When you play the major scale on the harmonica when you get the whole seven you switch which direction you’re blowing or drawing first because of how the harmonica is tuned.

But Howard’s methodology is not thinking intervallic, it’s mechanic. So it’s just blow draw blow draw blow draw blow in this example. You’re playing all kinds of unusual melodic patterns rather than going up and down a scale. FASCINATING! Just apply a pattern and see what happens to fall out!

I’m looking forward to exploring this book and seeing how going through it impacts my playing. Thanks again for posting this! I’M SO EXCITED! :grin:

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Hi @RollyJoe
Yes sounds like it would be worth a go. I heard it was all sold out though!

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@Luke Glad I posted it then! While some of your explanation went over my head you really broke it down and has got me excited to check it out also.
The only question is where do I fit it into my practicing? I think I’ll noodle around with it for now at the very least.

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@fallonsteve291 Oh wow. That didn’t take long. I’m going to have to back order it, hopefully a Christmas present at the very least. (oh man, why did I bring up Christmas already)

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Hello @RollyJoe,
what Christmas? We’ve got 40 °C here today! The thought of Christmas cools down immediately… :joy:

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Hi @RollyJoe and all others reading this thread,

In case you missed this (or, much worse, do not know or ever heard his music): check out this really fantastic recording of Howard Levy.

Regards,
– Slim (humbled beyond belief)

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Great tip @RollyJoe!
Yes, he’s very impressive and has a good likable demeanor @Slim I think.

I’ve already saved the book and will pick it up this month. I’m kind of stuck with my progress at the moment. I guess I’m missing intermediate steps to learn to achieve bigger goals.

Astrid wishes you a good time :woman_in_lotus_position:

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@AstridHandbikebee63 It hover’s in the 100’s (Fahrenheit) in the summer but I still don’t want to think about it! :smile:

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Thanks for sharing this recording, @slim. I had never heard it! GREAT STUFF! I received the book on Friday, and opened the package after a 3 hour harmonica gig (Two 1.5 hour sets with a 20 minute break! Whew! :sweat_smile:)

By the time I ate some food and watched a TV show with my wife it past 1:30 in the morning when she went to bed. I was like, “I’ve gotta just read a few pages of this book before bed.” Well I read the first 25 pages, and then find myself down in the studio trying things out.

I’m having a blast with it. @Slim I think you’d enjoy it immensely. It’s trippy for intermediate and advanced players who’ve been training themselves their whole lives to switch from blowing first on the first 6 holes going up, to drawing first on holes 7-10.

This book comes along and is like, we’re just can do breathing patterns - not playing scales or arpeggios - let the notes be what they may.

It’s crazy how hard it was for me to blow-draw-blow-draw on each hole 1-10 and back down. And then draw-blow-draw-blow do the same thing. So hard to “un-train” myself to switch at hole 7, lol!

Howard claims this book is for all experience levels. That may be true for a few beginners who are very motivated to practice things with a deep understanding of the concept of delayed gratification.

But I don’t think his metronome markings are realistic for beginners. He’s saying you should be able to do the above exercise, written as 16th notes, so one click per hole (blow-draw-blow-draw) at 90 BPM as a “moderate” tempo and then work up to 120. I’ll be interested to see if any true beginners can hack that. My guess is it’d be better to start at 60 BPM and work up to 90.

Here try it for yourself at 90 and 70 and LMK whatcha think:

I think it’s pretty typical for virtuoso’s like Howard to overestimate what a beginner is capable of. That’s why it’s better to learn from less accomplished players like yours truly. :wink::joy: Just kidding. I love Howard Levy. I’m so grateful he exists, and I’m very grateful and inspired by this book…

I’ll be sharing a lot more about it over time as my experience with it grows. Thanks again to @RollyJoe for the heads up on it! :raised_hands:t3:

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Awesome @Luke,

I love seeing you in the “lab” putting in the licks. I’m just starting out as you know but I already feel real improvement in my overall harmonica awareness and technique. Thanks for making Beginner to Boss so fun and accessible. What a great foundation. Thanks for leading by example. It’s so motivating. Put in the work. Improve. Relax and enjoy the process.

Mahalo,

~James

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Hi Luke @Luke

I think you hit the nail on the head. I’m sure the book will help almost any level player, but it will take so much dedication and effort that many beginners will give up on it. My copy should arrive in about 3-5 days and I hope that my dedication level is high enough that I can profit from the lessons!

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Hello, @Slim,
I’m glad you’re getting it soon. Please inform us and especially me, because I have saved it but haven’t bought it yet.
There are many books for beginners I, but it is difficult to find one that is suitable for beginners II.
I wish you a nice day!

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Thanks for posting your demo video @Luke Yeah, I think I’ll start at 20 bpm! :laughing:

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I’m excited that you’re getting it @slim! I’m predicting that you will LOVE it. It certainly has gotten ahold of me.

I’m still mostly working out his application of the first rudiment, the Single Stroke Roll to the harmonica - he’s got like 10 or 12 exercises just on that rudiment - and some of them are mind-BENDING, lol, such as -1 2 -3 4 -5 6 -7 8 -9 10. :flushed:)

I did sorta dip my toes into the Multiple Bounce Roll thought which is akin to sweep picking (also known as economy picking) on a guitar. This kind of an idea:

1 2 3 4 -4 -3 -2 -1
2 3 4 5 -5 -4 -3 -2
3 4 5 6 -6 -5 -4 -3…etc.

It’s a lot of fun! Really interesting to approach the harmonica without any concern for theory or notes, just patterns and “rhythms of breathing” which in my mind is why he can safely “get away” with saying it’s for beginners.

Anyways, it’s getting my lips on the harmonica a lot more (because I want to get on to more exciting things in the book, but my temperament won’t allow me to until I can get a handle on what he’s presented so far!! :rofl:) So I’m happy it’s making me play more.

I look forward to seeing what impact it has on my playing in a month or a year.

Thanks again @RollyJoe for the heads up. :+1:t3:

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That sounds very good, no theory and grades :woman_shrugging::blush:.

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