Bending Harmonica Notes

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 66,768
    Harmonica player Matt Bradshaw demonstrates how to play the harmonica and how to bend harmonica notes.

    Matt Bradshaw: Hi, my name is Matt Bradshaw and I am a musician in the Washington DC area and right now I'm talking about a new technique on the Harmonica called Bending.

    Bending is a technique that's used in Blues music all the time, if you've ever heard a Blues harmonica player then you've probably heard him using this technique. It's basically what it is, just taking the pitch on the harmonica and bending it downward for an effect, so I'll give you an example now, I'm just to play an inward note, and I'm going to bend it after playing it for a little while, like that.

    It's a good effect to learn, it's a little hard to explain but I'll tell you how I understand it and pretty much just trial and error, just work at it, and it's partly a mental thing, you've just got to think about it a lot and it usually works out.

    What Bending is essentially is it's breathing in on a note, so you can only do it on the notes that you breathe in and what you're doing is, instead of taking the air straight in, you're sort of curving the air downward by using your jaw and your tongue and the parallel that I've sort of thought about is whistling, even though whistling is breathing in, you still do the same thing with your jaw and your tongue to change the note. So if you are just -- just bending the note of a whistle is basically the same thing you do with your mouth for bending it on harmonica except you are breathing in.

    So what I'm going to do is, I'm just going to again show you an example of that and hopefully you can follow, it's just -- you can essentially do it on every note, the higher notes on the harmonica are harder and the lower are much easier to bend just because they are bigger reeds and they bend more easily, and that's why it's called bending because you're actually -- you actually are bending the reeds in the instrument, which causes the pitch to lower.

    This harmonica technique is used a lot in Blues music like I said and next, I'm going to show you a couple of other harmonica techniques that are used in Blues music.