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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing the Harmonica, 2nd Edition


With photos, illustrations, and a new audio CD.

The harmonica is one of the most traditional musical instruments in America. Millions are sold each year, but there are few high quality, comprehensive instructional manuals for new harmonica players. This bestselling book has been completely updated, with dozens of new songs and a professionally mastered audio CD.
• Over 100 ...

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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing The Harmonica, 2nd Edition

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With photos, illustrations, and a new audio CD.

The harmonica is one of the most traditional musical instruments in America. Millions are sold each year, but there are few high quality, comprehensive instructional manuals for new harmonica players. This bestselling book has been completely updated, with dozens of new songs and a professionally mastered audio CD.
• Over 100 songs, both traditional and original to this book
• Detailed instructions on playing, including photos to illustrate positions and techniques
• Buying tips and interesting historical facts about famous players
• Authors are professional musicians
• The most comprehensive music lists featuring nearly every style of playing and category of song
• Over 80 riffs and songs performed on the special audio CD
• Comprehensive resource guides

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

These entries in the phenomenally popular "Complete Idiot's" series are, like the "For Dummies" books, longer and somewhat more comprehensive than the straightforward selfinstruction and method books. All three cover choosing an instrument, tuning, playing technique, and a broad range of musical styles. Unlike the "For Dummies" books, they also cover reading music, though that information is so extensively available that a library choosing between these series should not base its decision solely on this. The harmonica title dwells more on playing with others and favors a kind of tablature notation over actual printed music. This series is suitable for beginning teen and adult musicians. Forthcoming in November 2009: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing Percussion(ISBN 9781592579297)
—Genevieve Williams

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592574650
  • Publisher: Alpha Books
  • Publication date: 10/3/2006
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 957,650
  • Product dimensions: 8.46 (w) x 10.82 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

William Melton is a classically trained musician. He has toured Europe with several symphonies. Currently, he makes his living as an attorney but plays the harmonica whenever he can.

Randy Weinstein is nationally known professional harmonica player. He has been featured at international music festivals and plays with several jazz bands. He teaches music theory.

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Table of Contents


1. Versatile, User Friendly, and Fun.
Why Play the Harp? Becoming a Player.

2. Let's Take It from the Top.
In the Beginning: Oriental Blues. Europe Adopts (and Adapts) the Free Reed. Hohner: Harmonicas for the Huddled Masses. Harmonicas from Sea to Shining Sea. The Harmonica in Today's Music World.

3. The First Step: Spend a Little Money.
Decisions: Getting the Best Buy. More Decisions: Tunings for Every Occasion. The Choice Is Yours. What to Buy Now and What to Buy Later. Harmonica Stuff.

4. My Harp Will Go On.
Harmonica Physics: Good Vibrations. Be Gentle at First. Preventing Harp Disease. Four Repair Techniques You Can Learn. Quandaries and Queries.


5. Harp Talk.
What's Going On Here? The Tablature System. What Note to Play. How Long to Play It. Should You Bend the Note? How Much Should You Bend It? When to Use the Slide Button on a Chromatic Harmonica. Some Familiar Tunes.

6. Body Language.
Stand Up Straight! Suck in That Gut! Keep Both Hands on the Harp. Take Some Deep Breaths. Open Wide and Say “Oooh” .

7. Playing Your First Notes.
Let's Start with Some Chords. 'TisNobler to Pucker or Tongue? More Tonguing Techniques. Good Vibratos. Don't Just Stand There! Stomp Your Foot! Ten Tips to Top Tone.

8. Playing More and Faster Notes.
Playing High Notes. That's Really Trilling. Grace Notes. Slides and Dropoffs. Hanon for Harp.

9. Music Break Number 1.
Familiar Songs That Are Fun to Play.


10. Reading and 'Riting and Rhythmatic.
Why Read Music? Notes. Chords. Beats. Signs. Keys. Checklist for Reading Music.

11. Tongue-Blocking Tricks.
Tongue-Block Octaves. Tongue-Block Chords.

12. The Art of Bending.
Draw and Blow Bends. The Art of Overbends and Harp Valves.

13. Harp Positions and Musical Modes.
The Circle of Fifths and Harmonica Positions. More Positions Than the Kama Sutra. Modes and Chord Progressions.


14. Ready for the Blues (and Improvisation).
Improvisation: Making Your Story Make Sense. Riffing Up a Groove: Simple Ain't Easy. Call-and-Response. Twelve-Bar Blues Techniques. Licks: Spicing Up the Meat.

15. You Got More Than the Blues.
Country Harping. Rock Harp. Erin Go Harp. Fiddling on the Harp: Appalachian Fiddle Tunes.

16. Keep Your Day Job.
Jamming. A Little Harp Can Go a Long Way. Forming a Band and Getting Gigs. Getting the Word Out: Marketing. Taking Care of Business. Leave 'Em Screaming for More.

17. The Final Note: Music Break Number 2.
Putting It All Together.


Appendix A: Complete Glossary of Harp Terms.
Appendix B: Resources.
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