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2nd Position (Cross Harp)

The songs and instruction on this website are samples and exerpts from Harmonica Lessons.com. Our "Harmonica Playing Overview" section is an introductory primer on the two most important types of harmonicas, which harmonica to get, and the 1st and 2nd playing positions.



SAMPLE VIDEO:  How to Play Harmonica for Beginners
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A simple playing tip to speed up your movement and add accuracy in single notes.
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Dave gives a general overview of what you can obtain from both diatonic and chromatic harmonicas in regards to harmonica chords.
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In this excerpt, Dave discusses some of the reasons for playing in either 1st Position or 2nd Position.

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  • 2nd Position or "Cross Harp"- These two terms mean precisely the same thing. We tend to use the more modern term "2nd Position" here, but both are correct and interchangeable. Most beginners will start with simple blues riffs played in the 2nd Position.

  • Players who primarily use 2nd Position- include James Cotton, Sonny Boy Williamson (both I and II), Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones), Little Walter, Paul Butterfield, Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson Band), John Popper, Charlie Musselwhite, Huey Lewis, Sonny Terry, Norton Buffalo, Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Magic Dick (J. Geils Band), and many others.

  • For blues, use 2nd Position- If you want to play to blues, rock, or country based music, your first choice would not be the 1st Position (or "Straight Harp") style of playing. You will want to use the 2nd Position style of playing.

  • 2nd Position emphasizes draw notes at the low end- If you want to jam to a song while playing 2nd Position, you must primarily, but not exclusively, play the draw (inhale) notes at the low end of the harmonica (holes 1 through 5 draw). Resolution to the key of music can be found at hole 3 blow (and later on, also at holes 2 draw and 6 blow).

  • The big advantage to 2nd Position is the bending- The advantage of the 2nd Position style of playing over 1st Position is that all these low draw notes can be bent down for effect and with practice will ultimately give you all the missing notes used in blues and country scales.

  • 2nd Position is in a different key- When you play in the 2nd Position, you are no longer in the key of the harmonica, but actually in a key which is a perfect 5th (seven half-steps) up from the key of the harmonica.

  • You're playing your "C" harmonica in the key of "G"- If you play in 2nd Position on a key of "C" harmonica you will now be in the key of "G". This is the way most modern blues, rock, and country players will use the diatonic harmonica. Use the HarmonicaLesons.com Positions Chart to find the 2nd Position key for the 12 different keys of diatonics.

  • An easy shortcut to find the 2nd Position key- If your thumb is the key of the harmonica (which is the same as the 1st Position key), count through the alphabet and stop at your "little finger" for the 2nd Position key. For example, your thumb is "C" and your little finger would be "G" (key of 2nd Position on the "C" harmonica). Try it with a key of "D" harmonica, counting from thumb to little finger you should get the key of "A" for 2nd Position. Please note, in music, "A" follows "G". There is no "H" note (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A-B, etc.)

  • To begin learning 2nd Position riffs and methods of improv- Visit the Basic Blues Improv section at HarmonicaLessons.com for blues riffs and information on improvising in the 2nd Position. A shortcut for simple blues jamming is found on the Beginners' Shortcuts page.

  • How to play the 2nd Position scales- Visit the HarmonicaLessons.com Scales page for more information and note tab on how to play the 2nd Position blues and country scales.




SAMPLE VIDEO:  Advanced Harmonica Tips
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Dave explains how the concept of "Follow Through", as found in many sports, also applies directly to your breathing and airflow.
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Dave explains the value of not just learning a scale up and down, but dividing it into smaller "bite-size" chunks, which can then be used as blues riffs.
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Dave demonstrates how you can use the "Tonguing" technique to create interesting sounds such as the "Chicken Call".

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 Attend up to 12 Live Classes per Month

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at
HarmonicaLessons.com


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 * Dave Gage - 30 Year Teaching Pro







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