March 24, 2017

Seasoning Your Music – Little Things On The Harmonica

What makes some harmonica players sound more polished than other harmonica players?

Well there are things like a clean single note and good breathing…

But now as I improve, I am finding out things that help me sound more polished…

and it’s the little stylistic things…

Like Vibrato…

I remember when I used to play without a vibrato. I would play a 6 to 8 beat note and just lay it out here. It just sounds so lifeless…

Add a bit of vibrato and maybe a few other things and it sounds so much better.

Playing 2 note chords.

Everybody starts harmonica by playing 3 and 4 note chords, but there is something about a 2 note chord that sounds so intentional and powerful.

When you only play single notes and never throw in chords (or only play chords and no single notes) you end up with a lifeless kind of sound as well.

Particularly, throw in some 3hole-4hole or 4hole-5hole chords and it just adds some power that almost sounds like screaming to it.

Add some hand effects and it really sounds like a human voice doing something…

Speaking of Hand Effects

Yep…this can really give you some human sounding vocals to your harmonica. I think some of Sonny-boy Williamson II’s work includes this to great effect.

I am still trying to figure out when to add in these things, but just a little bit of playing lets me know it makes a big difference.

Put a Dip in It

Instead of just drawing that 3 or that 5 hole how bout add a slight bend to the beginning. So you start with it slightly flat and then straight into the note.

This adds a bit of flavor to the beginning of the note rather than just the dead hitting of the note.


Go head and trill on that 3-4 hole or 4-5 hole or others. It provides another way of presenting the note. So you can do a vibrato…or a trill to make the beginning of the note interesting.

Some Slaps

You just put in some slaps here and there as percussion or even just for flavoring the start of a lot of notes.

Throw in some slaps with some chord work and suddenly your song sounds like a lot more is going on.

Finally you can throw in some stuff on the end of the note.

I am having issues in that I haven’t tried these that much, but the slide up and slide down can be helpful to give you some flavor to the beginning and end of the notes.

I am finding that just adding in some of those are what makes my playing sound like it is getting better…much like how the cook throws just the right seasoning on their dish and it brings out the flavors that are already in the dish…


Did an hour and a half this morning as I finish up Level of Achievement Level 2.

  • Solo harmonica is now ready to record.
  • Accompaniment harmonica is ready to record although I  need to do some more work on it
  • The Study song is close but not perfectly ready yet.


I estimate that I will record my submission next thursday.


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