Howdy Pantichrist - Did you run into God here yet?! Mwuahhahaha!
No matter, it’s a great question. First let me quote directly here this lesson from an excellent harmonica teaching book I picked up way back when. To wit:
Throat Vibrato according to David Mckelvy
In order to get a clear-sounding throat vibrato, do the following:
o Place your harmonica in your mouth in a lipping position over hole 2
o Tighten your lips and lift your jaw very slightly.
o Exhale a quick burst of air, as if you were coughing very lightly.
o From the same part of your throat in which you exhaled, inhale one very quickly and then stop.
o Inhale again very quickly and then several times in succession at a steady rate.
What you should hear at this point is a series of short-sounding notes, but as soften the edge of your throat, you’ll notice your short notes blending into a single note with vibrato.
2D 2D 2D 2D 2D 2D 2D 2D 2D2D2D2D
Try the same technique on holes 1,3, and 4. (5-draw is not quite good for vibrato, since it can’t bend down fully, and bendable notes are better for vibrato.) Also if you have a lower key harp like a G or A, try your vibrato on 6-draw. Eventually, you’ll be able to get a 6-draw vibrato on your C harp, but for now stick to the lower holes.
Getting a good steady throat vibrato will take some time, but with a lot of practice you’ll learn it. The new blues sound you’ll get will be worth all the effort.
As you practice throat vibrato, make sure that:
o You are not moving your tongue. (Sometimes beginning players will do this to “assist” their vibratos. The sounds just don’t mix.
o The speed of your vibrato is steady.
o Your lips and jaw don’t get too tight. Stay relaxed. Remember that the position of your lips and jaw are only slightly more closed in vibrato position than straight-tone position. Tightening your lips very slightly helps create a back pressure on the reeds, which, in turn, give your tone the right placement in your throat.
At first, practice vibrato separately on your melodies where vibrato fits best. Think of yourself singing (yes, your harp is a singing instrument!) Choose where and when to use vibrato in the same way a singer would. Long notes are generally best; start your note with a straight tone and let your vibrato build.
Once again, learning how to play and use throat vibrato won’t happen overnight, but keep practicing….and listen to your favorite blues harp players for inspiration!
I’ve been practicing the backwards cough in my throat without the harmonica!
Read these instructions from David McKelvy and watch JP Allen’s lesson on it.
I have the basics down. If you know Shenandoah with hand vibrato, you can substitute and try throat vibrato on the longer notes.
This morning, I woke up with a sore throat from last night’s practice. This is the first question today I’m answering too!
Good Luck! And let us know how it goes!
Keep on smiling!
Keep on harpin’!
Thanks for reading!