The NHL is Britain's national harmonica association, with members world wide, supporting and encouraging the playing of all types of music on the chromatic, diatonic, tremolo, octave and chord harmonicas. Paul Jones is our President.
Music examples for the tuition articles in Harmonica World
Music for the tuition examples in Harmonica World.
Harmonica World is distributed six times a year at the beginning of February, April, June, August, October and December. It is delivered free to all NHL members.
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Here are the music files & internet links referenced from Harmonica World magazine:
The Flowers of the Forest.. George wrote - Even if you are not involved it ss a nice tune and worth learning. It is written here in 6/8 time which is the way you will most often hear it when it is played by a band but it is often written in 2/4 time and played much slower and squarer, usually by a solo piper. It is a three part tune and I am using a Tombo Band Deluxe tremolo in the key of ’D’. Click to hear it.
Crossing the Minch.. The tune itself is a typical
highland pipe hornpipe and a four parter at that. Maybe using the Sailor Steel is appropriate for a hornpipe, however see what you think of the tune and the re-tuning of the Sailor Steel (D). Click to hear it.
Laird of Drumblair.. I find this tune is most comfortable played on a tremolo so I’m using a Tombo Band Deluxe in the key of ‘A’ for the sound file on the NHL music webpage. It can also be played quite comfortably on a ten hole if the low ‘F#’ is missed out in the fourth and eighth bars, which is simple to do in this tune. The important thing to remember with these tunes is to get the Scotch Snap into them. Click to hear it.
Drummond Castle Laundry.. It’s a straightforward little tune to play and I’m using a ’Tombo Band Delux 21’ in the key of ’D’ Click to hear it.
Mrs MacLeod. The tune I’ve used here is Mrs MacLeod of Raasay, probably one of the
best-known tunes in Scottish traditional music. It’s a very old Scottish tune and is played all round the world. It is usually in the key of ’A’ but in
Ireland it is played in ’G’ and is known as ’Miss MacLeods’. The midi file can be downloaded from here . Click here to hear what the midi file sounds like.
Lochanside. I’m using a Hohner Big Valley in 'D' for the sound file of this three part, very melodic, 3/4 pipe march Lochanside, and as you should hear the notes move above and below the 'D' tonic. The music is on Page 7 of the magazine. Click to hear it
Jimmy Morgan. Click the audio below for a tune mentioned in the poem called ’Ye Banks and Braes’. It is played on a Hohner Echo Harp in the key of ’C’, which would have been the most common key back then. The music is on Page 11 of the magazine.
How to Assess a Custom Diatonic Harmonica, Part 1, Draw Bends. Click the audio below for the recording Richard made of an assessment of a diatonic harmonica as set out in his article on P15.
Caller Herrin. I’m using a Hohner Big Valley in the key of ’D’ and playing in first position. However, from the ’G#’ in bar 28 to the ’A’ in bar 32 I switch to a Tombo 21 in the key of ’A’ and continue to play in first position. Here is the the sound file. The music is on Page 27 of the magazine.
The Drunken Piper. This is the name of the tune associated with The Reel of the 51st Division. It was written by A. McLeod in the 1800s and is found in David Glen’s Collection of Bagpipe Music. The tune is in ’A Dorian mode’ so I’m using a ’G’ tremolo on the sound file. The music is on Page 7 of the magazine.
Vamping. In the sound file this month I’m going to use a little American tune called ’The Country Waltz’ that I learnt from a fiddler a while back. Waltzes are ideal for using this vamping technique with their 1-2-3 rhythm. The first time through the tune I’ll play it without tongue blocking, then the second time through with the full works. If I get my sums right you should be able to hear how much fuller the tune sounds when using the tongue. You can listen to it here, The Country Waltz.
Celtic Music. Here’s a wee tune - Highland Laddie - that dates back to at least the early 1700s. See Page 7 for the music. It’s about as close as I can get to the ancient ’Celts’! It’s still played regularly today and there’s also a Scottish Country Dance by that name. It’s slightly unusual in that although it’s in the key of ’D’ it finishes each part on the note ’B’ and not ’D’. Could that be ’Celtic’? You can listen to it here, Highland Laddie.
Playing Tremolo in Dorian mode, one of the first pipe tunes I ever learned was called The Hills of Glenorchy, a 6/8 march.
This tune is in ’A Dorian’ mode and fits nicely on the ‘G‘ moothie in third position. I’ve written out the music more or less as I remember playing it as a march but recently I’ve taken to playing it more as a waltz, which makes it a good example of how traditional music changes over time and how we should never take the dots too seriously. You can listen to it here, The Hills of Glenorchy.
Playing in second position. A good example of this scale is the tune Campbell’s Farewell to Redcastle on Page 20 of the magazine. The instrument I’m using to play this tune on this month's sound file is the Hohner Big Valley in the key of ’D’. Of course I’m not playing in ’D’ I’m playing in ’A’, a fifth up. The tune can be found in Ross’s Collection of Pipe Music which dates back to around 1870. William Ross was then piper to Queen Victoria. As far as I know there’s only one Redcastle in Scotland which is north of Inverness. You can listen to it here, Campbell‘s Farewell to Redcastle.
David Barrett - Introduction to Blues Chromatic - Part 19 - The Dip.
Now that you’ve had some time to work on your dip bends, let’s place them into a musical context. Reminder if your dip bends stall, use more of the front of your tongue. Also don’t forget to use slaps, you want the big sound they have to offer. Follow the musical notation in the magazine as you listen to the audio file.
French Musette is this month’s tune on Page 31. It is a French type of bagpipe that has a tremolo effect and was popular in the French courts at one time. Unfortunately I don’t have a name for this tune, which is not unusual in the traditional music scene. It’s a fairly straightforward tune to play and I’m using a Hohner Big Valley in the key of ’D’ for the sound file. You can listen to it here, French Musette.
David Barrett - Introduction to Blues Chromatic - Part 18 - The Dip
The Dip presents a note flat (bent)and then raises it quickly in pitch to the reed’s natural vibrating pitch. Listen to my recorded examples of the sound you’re trying to create - an example of The Dip.
The Battle of the Somme is this month's tune. It’s a typical pipe march in 9/8 time and definitely not a slip jig. The music for The Battle of the Somme is on Page 7 of the magazine. It’s played on a key ’D’ Hohner Big Valley - you can listen to it here, Battle of the Somme.
David Barrett - Introduction to Blues Chromatic - Part 17
Here is a link to the video of Kenny's video of Life River on Page 12 of the magazine.
Eva Hurt introduced a Polish Traditional Tune - We are going Hunting
You can see her playing the music on Page 29 of the magazine on this YouTube video.
Loch Leven Castle is on an Island in Loch Leven in Perth and Kinross and can be visited by boat. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in the castle for around a year in the 1500s before she escaped dressed as a servant. She was recaptured and eventually executed. The music for Loch Leven Castle is on Page 7 of the magazine. It’s played on a key ’G’ Tombo Harmonica 21 and the tune is in ’A’ minor - you can listen to it here,
Loch Leven Castle.
Philip will be heading up our festival concert in Bristol in October. Here is a link to Philip's YouTube channel where you can watch and hear him play a wide range of jazz, popular and classical music.
The sound from the Hohner Johnny is in some ways like a Melodeon, quite strong and punchy. The Hochlandsklange by contrast is just slightly lighter in tone. There also seems to be so many notes in the mix that it is often difficult to find the melody notes when you’re playing it. However I’ve given it a go here for this month's sound file.
The tune, which is played in ’G’, is Kenmure’s on and awa Willie.
David Barrett - Introduction to Blues Chromatic - Part 15
Here are links to the sound files for David's tuition article on Page 12. Chorus of Octaves.
When Scottish Regiments were abroad over New Year it was not uncommon for the pipers to come through the barracks playing at midnight. One of the many tunes that would have been played was ’Happy We’ve Been All Together’. This tune goes back to at least the eighteen hundreds and it’s the tune I’ve picked for this month since the New Year is not that far away now. For this sound file I’m using a ’Hohner Big Valley’ tremolo in the key of ’D’ for this fairly simple tune. Click here to hear it.
David Barrett - Introduction to Blues Chromatic - Part 14
Here are links to the sound files for David's tuition article on Page 18. Example 1 presents an octave exercise. Example 2 is the same song example as last month, with the addition of real octaves.
Any way, back to just one tremolo, a Tombo 21 Deluxe in the key of ’A’ for this month’s tune. The tune is a good old Scottish Reel called Roxburgh Castle.
Roxburgh Castle near Kelso in the Scottish Borders, now a ruin, has a long and interesting history going back to King David I.
The tune has many variants throughout the British Isles and you may just be familiar with it. Give it a go!
David Barrett - Introduction to Blues Chromatic - Part 13
Here are links to the sound files for David's tuition article on Page 8. Example 1 presents a fake octave exercise. Example 2 is the same song example as last month, with the addition of fake octaves.
Here is George playing the Para Handy theme. This three part tune written by Ian Gourlay, a Concertina player, is in the key of ’G’ but the third part is in ’C’. While the whole tune could be played on a ’G’ mouth organ, as there’s no ’F#’ in the last part, it makes sense to stack a ’G’ and a ’C’ together, using the ’C’ for the last part. The notes harmonise better, but it’s also much easier!
David Barrett - Introduction to Blues Chromatic - Part 12
Here are links to the sound files for David's tuition article on Page 8. Example 1 has you practicing draw pulls for the first measure and blow pulls for the second. Use draw pulls when between downbeat draw slaps and blow pulls when between downbeat blow slaps. When you move from a downbeat blow slap to a downbeat draw slap, or vice-versa, it’s up to you which pull you use. Example 2 shows the pull in the 12 Bar Blues context. In both examples there is slap notation above each note head (open circle) to remind you to slap most single notes.
Here is George playing an old Scottish dance called Angus Polka No1, which is written out on Page 6 of the magazine. It is played on a Big Valley tremolo in D. The tune is one George learned from an old mouth-organ-playing friend a few of years ago.
David Barrett - Introduction to Blues Chromatic - Part 11
You can hear some very varied harmonica recordings from Sampler tape cassettes produced by Norman in the 1990s on the
The Archivist web site - Blues, Rock, Country, International, Standards, famous and less well known artists.
Here is the audio file to an old Scottish song called Dainty Davie played on a Tombo Band Deluxe 21 in G, on Page 6. This song, collected and reworked by Robert Burns, has many variants but the tune George plays here is the most popular.
David Barrett - Introduction to Blues Chromatic - Part 10
Here is the audio file to the music The Harmonica in his article A Wee Drop of Scotch on Page 6.
David Barrett - Introduction to Blues Chromatic - Part 9
Here is a link to the example I discuss on Page 16 .It uses the light sound of the 4 draw, B (6th scale degree in D), and bluesy sound of the 4+(blow) C (flat-7th).
This music file contains both tunes "Proudlock's Hornpipe/Hesleyside Reel" from Steve's article. Steve recorded the track using a Lee Oskar G harp in Paddy Richter tuning. The other instruments on the track were played by Martin Cole.
David Barrett - Introduction to Blues Chromatic - Part 7
This music file contains both tunes - Keefe's and The Clog - from Steve's magazine article, each played through once. He used Tombo Band tremolo harmonicas in D and G, switching over for the second tune.
Here are links to the two tunes in his column in the February magazine, Tommy Bhetty's Waltz by Noel Battle from his CD, Up And About In The Morning, with Noel on tremolo and Roisin Broderick on concertina. The second tune is Morgan Magan, played by Steve Shaw playing a G tremolo harp and Martin Frith on fiddle. It was recorded in the St Kew Inn, in Cornwall, playing in a pub session. There was little rehearsal involved, but they were obviously having fun!
Here is a link to the two tunes in his column in the October magazine, Ger the Rigger and Bill Sullivan's Polkas, played by Steve Shaw on harmonica with Martin Cole on guitar. This is from their CD, Blowing through the Reeds.
Magazine News Section
Here are links to the articles linked with Joe Filsko in the News Section of the magazine.
Here is a link to the two tunes in his column in the April magazine, Planxty Irwin and Si Bheag Si Mhor, played by Steve Shaw, unaccompanied. Brendan power has done a version of Si Bheag Si Mhor, on his CD, New Irish Harmonica.
Cheng Jang Ming
Here are three short audio clips from the radio interview between Michael Oliver and Tommy Reilly on the BBC in 1979. Transcribed by Jang Ming in the February and April issue.
Here are two tunes to use with Steve's column in the the August magazine about playing by ear. The first one Planxty Fanny Power, written by O'Carolan in the 18th century is simple, unadorned and unaccompanied. The second Brendan McMahon's Reel is more of a challenge at first sight, with a bit of ornamentation and variation thrown in by Steve and with a "distracting" guitar backing. Both tunes have a simple structure with similar-length A and B sections which are repeated. The first is played through once and the second one twice. Read the magazine article on learning by ear and try to learn the tunes without looking at notation. It's perfectly permissible, desirable even, to put in your own ornamentation and variations, within the spirit of the tunes. Fanny Power requires a Paddy Richter G harp if a 10-hole harp is used and Brendan McMahon's requires a D harp (Steve used a low D).
The music is played by Steve Shaw (harmonica) with Gwyn Lloyd (mandolin) and Dave Perrett (fiddle) at the St Kew Inn. Steve's harmonica is a low D diatonic in paddy Richter tuning.
Steve Shaw - Two hornpipes
The written music for these examples is included in the magazine article. Click to hear the music for The Rights of Man followed by Off to California. The music is played by Steve Shaw (harmonica)using a G Suzuki Bluesmaster tuned to Paddy Richter.
Steve Shaw - Two tunes by Turlough O'Carolan
The written music for these examples is included in the magazine article.
The first rendering of the tune is unaccompanied and slower than usual to show the ornaments. It is followed by a version with his son Tim on guitar. They play the tune through twice, at the speed they'd perform it in a session and they include the variations mentioned in his article in Aug issue of Harmonica World.
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