Q: What books on harmonica history are there?

Kim Field's "Harps, Harmonicas and Heavy Breathers" is an excellent book that covers a lot of history, style and even contains a lot of interviews with players -- BB

It also has an extensive bibliography, which is highly recommended.

Also Hohner's "Made in Germany, Played in the USA" -- HA

Q: What books of harmonica music are there?

A: There is an extensive list of folios complied by Douglas Tate called "Classical Music for Harmonica" on the HarmoniGopher, or via web on: gopher://gopher.wku.edu:70/00gopher_root%3A%5Bharp%5Dclassical.txt

(FMI: Re: Harmonica Concerto" 27 May 93 JE)

Charlie has his own book: _The Harmonica Acc. to Charlie Musslewhite_, and then teamed up with Phil Duncan, of Mel Bay fame, for another called _Power Blues Harp_. I've seen the latter in the stores, which looks pretty good. I actually prefer another one I saw called "Building Harmonica Technique" by David Barrett, also through Mel Bay now. There all $16 or so. Kevin of Kevin's Harps' recommended Gary Primich's _Blues Harmonica: The Basics and Beyond_. This is of course all blues-oriented, and there are many more. David Harp's books are simplistic, but good value. ( I got _Bending the Blues_ and the book is not as good as just the audio tape).

I just counted over 50 entries for instructional material (books, cassettes, videos) in Kevin's Spring/Summer '94 catalog (1-800-274-2776). Workshop Records has 25 entries (1-800-543-6125, mostly same stuff, but two new Charlie McCoy videos are in there @ $25 each). So it's out there. --"Re: still struggling" 26 Aug 94 HA

>From 19 Mar 1992 JE:

JAZZ HARP Oak Publications by Richard Hunter

Includes a recording of examples of various styles and techniques by different artists. Good stuff if you want to get into jazz or if you just want an education in jazz. Contains tricks and methods (i.e. how to overblow a reed) useful in any style playing. BLUES HARP Mel Bay Publications by Phil Duncan

Covers diatonic and chromatic harmonica. Uses standard notation and a number system. An excellent beginners guide. Phil is a school teacher and knows the harmonica well. A combination that is hard to beat. Phil has authored several harmonica books for Mel Bay Publications, all are good.

BLUES HARMONICA (Book and Cassette Tape) Mel Bay Publications by Charlie Musselwhite & Phil Duncan

Very well written and illustrated with an excellent companion cassette tape. Explains some techniques we have not seen mentioned in other books.

THE NATURAL BLUES & COUNTRY WESTERN HARMONICA by Jon Gindick Lots of illustrations and Humor throughout but also full of good information. An extensive record index is included. Highly recommended book for the beginner. Another book titled "Blues Harp for the Musically Hopeless" Book, Harp & Tape - very similar to the above book. Jon also has a video tape (good) and several cassette tapes available.

(the following from Home Spun Tapes, Inc.) INSTRUCTIONAL TAPES (set of six cassette tapes - no book) Excellent!

Six (6) blues harp tapes by John Sebastian and Paul Butterfield.

VIDEO TAPE by John Sebastian - For beginners, well done.

About on the same level as the Gindick video.


(plays Harp, Keyboards, Ocarina, Penny Whistle, etc. with Bela Fleck and the Fleck Tones).

Some of us have met or at least heard Howard play and he is incredible! He blew us away in Memphis last May -- His 12 key improvisation on one diatonic harp is a show stopper. Makes us Chro' players want to break off our slide buttons. IMHO - This is THE video for diatonic.

Write for catalog ------> Homespun Tapes Ltd. Box 694 Woodstock, New York 12498

BENDING THE BLUES (Book) Publication date unknown but fairly new.

musical i press - San Francisco, California by David Harp

This is a small book but packed with concise, well written information on many facets of short harp playing. Other musical i press books. Bending: The Cassette, companion tape to Bending The Blues, $9.95. Instant Blues Harmonica, Vol. I & II $12.95 (each?). Book & cassette. Vol. I for "C" harp, Vol. II for "A" harp. Harmonica Positions, $9.95. Book & cassette. Play any harmonica in 5 different keys (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th position). or any level player. Make Me Musical $19.95. Book & cassette. Instant harmonica education for kids, carefully programmed for ages 4-9. Includes section on reading standard musical notation.

THE HARP HANDBOOK (book and cassette tape) Very Highly Recommended!

Distributed by Hohner - by Steve Baker This is probably the best book ever written on the diatonic harmonica. (Peter MADCAT Ruth says so). The book covers harmonica history, construction and manufacture, how it works, different positions, playing techniques, styles, different tunings (including the SBS special tuned Marine Band - finally available in the US), tuning, maintenance, customizing, amplification and more. Very well written and illustrated.

Order direct from... Hohner, Inc. P.O. Box 15035 Richmond, Virginia 2322

BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ by Cham-Ber Huang - List about $25 - includes a special solo tuned diatonic, book, and MMO type cassette. The 1st half of the course can be completed with the included harmonica, the 2nd half requires a chromatic. (The solo tuned diatonic "eases" you into the chromatic layout and tuning). Notation in the book is both by number and standard music notation. If not available in your music store try F&R

Farrell (below) or Write: Insignia International, Inc., 12A Seabro Avenue, North Amityville, New York 11701 - Attn: Cham-Ber Huang POWER HARP by Charlie Musselwhite and Phil Duncan - Mel Bay Publications

I think this one also includes a cassette tape and according to others who have seen it this is another excellent book and highly recommended.

MEL BAY'S COMPLETE HARMONICA BOOK by Phil Duncan - Mel Bay Publications

(MB94713) ISBN 1-56222-280-5 - I just borrowed this book from a friend last night. Published in 1992 - This is a thick (237 pages) book which covers several styles and playing techniques. Diatonic, cross-harp, and chromatic types of harmonicas are used. Traditional folk, blues, rock, bluegrass, country, gospel, jazz, and classical styles are represented. The diatonic and chromatic basics are given, and there is even a section on bass and chord harmonica. Plus several songs with standard and by number notation. A companion cassette tape is available at extra $. The book alone costs $17.95, a little high but I say well worth it.

Another good local source for harmonica books is your public library - also good source for tapes/CD's - Better music stores or sheet music stores stock a variety of harmonica method books. The sheet music store in Columbus (Stanton's) has 15 or 20 harmonica books -- 19 Mar 1992 JE

Before I recommend any books I have to recommend that you learn to read music. [a] It makes learning the chromatic easier - or at least a more logical process. [b] It will help you learn / understand jazz. [c] Most chromatic courses and I suspect jazz courses are based on reading.

(What? this from one who learned chromatic by ear???)

Now my recommendations FWTW...

I would recommend two books. (the first from an earlier post)

#1 Tommy Morgan's "Chromatic Harmonica Method" HF-2004 Originally: Gwyn Publishing Co. - Warner Bros. Publications Inc. 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York 10019

***New Publisher: Alfred's publishing - Cat. number 3341 - Address n/a ***

This was copyrighted 1972 - so I don't know how good the address is - but it's still the best book on chromatic I have ever seen. Check a good music store or sheet music house. It may still be in print - in fact I'm curious whether it is. Also contains brief section on chord and bass harmonica --- I just called Stanton's Music (Columbus) and they say it is in print - However now by Alfred's publishing - Catalog number 3341 - It would be my guess this is a re-print of the same or very similar book. They do not have it in stock otherwise I would stop in and check it out. (Winslow replied and confirmed that this is the same book) ---- BTW - They take phone / mail orders...Stanton's Sheet Music (614)224-4257, 339 S. 4th St., Columbus, OH 43215

#2 An Introduction to Jazz Style on the Chromatic Harmonica Arranged by Ted Simons - Performed by Charlie Leighton, Harmonica and Ted Simons, Piano. (Book and Audio Tape)

Includes both sheet music and an instructional audio tape. Five familiar tunes, arranged in common keys - two choruses each. "The first chorus is the basic melody, the second is a variation on the melody in a jazz style that captures the feel of an improvised chorus". The sheet music includes transcriptions of both choruses for each tune - also includes chord symbols. Tape side A has harmonica with piano accompaniment. Side B has piano only, ala MMO. $19.95 + $1.50 from Farrell.

A friend got this and after listening to a couple tunes and looking at the book I ordered it for myself. Maybe it's because I like the tunes ("Blue Skies", "I Can't Get Started", "What's New", "Our Love Is Here To Stay", and "Exactly Like You".) - Or maybe it's Charlie's beautiful playing??? The arrangements look pretty easy (and I'm a so-so reader - I still have to go through the EGBDF and FACE routine). Some are in the key of C and others in F if I remember correctly.-- "RE: Good chromatic book?" 28 Sep 94 JE

(FMI: " Chromatic, Melody Maker, Carlos" 10 Jun 94 WY)

BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ by Cham-Ber Huang - List about $25 -

includes a special solo tuned diatonic, book, and MMO type cassette. The 1st half of the course can be completed with the included harmonica, the 2nd half requires a chromatic. (The solo tuned diatonic "eases" you into the chromatic layout and tuning). Notation in the book is both by number and standard music notation. If not available in your music store try F&R Farrell or Write: Insignia International, Inc., 12A Seabro Avenue, North Amityville, New York 11701 - Attn: Cham-Ber Huang

F & R Farrell sells his books. "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Chromatic Harmonica" (comes with instructional record) and "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Blues And Marine Band Harmonica".

Also carries two cassettes "Best Of The Light Classics" and Music For Listening". -F & R Farrell Co., P.O. Box 133, Harrisburg, Ohio 43216. Blackie is an excellent showman and technician, seeing his act live is very entertaining. Plays mostly chromatic and has a repertoire ranging from classical to country. Lives in New York (area) and still performing. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for being able to play "Hora Staccato", a total of 1096 notes, in 90 seconds -- "Post#3" 13 Nov 92 JE


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The JT30 Page Popular links

I began collecting data about the microphones used by blue harp players before there was an internet. I began organizing it into JT30.com in the late 1990s. I accumulated more stuff than I remember. This is some of it.

Street Theory

A Harp Player’s Guide to Music Theory

Learning Harp

Picking Up Blues Harp

A guide to learning to play Blues Harp

Microphone Information

Usenet Articles

Harp Amps

I've been collecting Harp Amps for a while. This is the old Harpamps.com website. There is lots of information here. Here a coupld of links.

Harp Tab

A collection of songs and riffs that I’ve worked out over the years, plus some libraries of stuff I’ve converted to tablature. I’ve included most of the notes and instructions that helped me when I was learning to play blues harmonica.

Basic Riffs Simple harp tabs for songs Blues riffs and phrases.

Harp-L Archives 1992 to 2002


Harp Frequently Asked Questions