Did you know one of the biggest indicators of how long you’ll live is closely linked to your lung capacity? (for those nerdy curious here is the respected Dr Attia talking about this)
The great news: studies have shown regular harmonica playing improves your lung function - how’s that for some motivation?
$200 might seem like a lot of money for someone to spend on a harmonica for musical reasons alone. But when you consider investing in it for health and longevity benefits it might seem like a smart investment.
I got one of these harmonicas from Dr. Schaman, and have been playing with it for a couple of months and wanted to give you my 2 cents on it, especially from a musical perspective…
This harmonica is quite a DIFFERENT BEAST from a regular harmonica, and so approaching it musically requires quite a DIFFERENT MINDSET from approaching a regular harmonica.
The first thing to remember is that this is a CHORD HARMONICA. I’m not interested in playing single notes on this harmonica. I’ve grabbed this harp to play CHORDS. If I want to play single notes, I’ll grab one of my regular harmonicas.
The most important question next is WHERE do I blow/draw to play WHICH chords?
To be honest, at the beginning I had a really hard time getting my mind wrapped around which chords are where. But with persistence I finally cracked the code.
It’s actually very simple, and I’m here to share it with you. Once I got this figured out, I started having a lotta fun with the harmonica.
Chord Qualities - all the chords are either Major Chords, or (Dominant) 7th Chords. Whether you’re blowing or drawing, 3 note chords are the same (major,) but 4 note chords are slightly different:
3-note chords are major (1-3-5)
4-note chords are major (1-3-5-1)
5-note chords are “quirky” 7th chords (1-3-5-1-b7)
(7th & Root next to each other make it sound more dissonant)
3-note chords are major (1-3-5)
4-note chords are 7th chords (1-3-5-b7)
5-note chords are “quirky” 7th chords (1-3-5-b7-1)
This is intuitive coming from playing standard tuned harmonicas where 1234 is a major chord, but -2345 is a dominant 7th chord. (Note the “quirky” 7th chord sound is not available on a standard harmonica.)
Chord Layout - it is possible to play a Blues or any I IV V chord progression in the key of C, or in the key of G. Here’s how it lays out:
Key of C
I Chord: Left Side Draw
IV Chord: Left Side Blow
V Chord: Right Side Blow
In the key of C, our home base is LEFT SIDE DRAW.
It’s like you were playing 2nd position on a Low F harmonica where your draw is a C chord and your blow is an F chord.
Except now, we get the bonus: you just jump over to the RIGHT and BLOW for your V chord (which would be missing on a standard harmonica).
Key of G
I Chord: Right Side Blow
IV Chord: Left Side Draw
V Chord: Right Side Draw
In the key of G, our home base is RIGHT SIDE BLOW.
It’s like you were playing in 1st position on a G harmonica. Blowing is your I (G chord) and drawing is your V (D chord.)
Except now, we get the bonus: you just jump over to the LEFT and DRAW for your IV chord (which would be missing on a standard harmonica.)
Musically, it’s nice being able to play I - IV - V chord progressions without having to hold 2 harmonicas. I love it! It took a bit of practice getting used to making the big jump, but now that I got it, it’s easy.
Hear it in action in this video:
Financially you would need to buy a Low F and a G harmonica to be able to accomplish what you can accomplish with this harmonica, and with the Seydel Noble’s going for $120 a piece, all of a sudden the value comes into perspective.
The #1 thing I had to get used to with this harmonica is JUMPING FARTHER than I’m used to.
Playing in the key of C, to go to the V chord, we’re not going a little bit to the right. We’re going WAY to the right. Not a problem with practice. But at the beginning I kept not going far enough and would catch one of the notes on the left side of the partition which sounds sour.
So better to jump too far than not far enough.