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1st Position (Straight Harp)

The instruction and songs and tabs on this website are samples and exerpts from Dave Gage's HarmonicaLessons.com. This "Harmonica Playing General Info" section is an introduction to the two most important types of harmonicas, which harmonica to get, and the difference between 1st and 2nd playing positions.

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  • 1st Position or "Straight Harp" - These two terms mean precisely the same thing. We tend to use the more modern term 1st Position here, but both are correct and interchangeable. Most beginners will start with simple songs played in the 1st Position.

  • "C" Harmonica blows a "C" chord- You'll notice if you blow anywhere on the key of "C" harmonica you will get a C chord (C, E, and G notes). Other key diatonic harmonicas are layed out exactly the same, so if you blow into a key of "A" harmonica you will get an A chord (A, C#, and E notes). Exact note layouts for all 12 keys of major diatonic harmonicas are available in the Theory section at Harmonicalessons.com.

  • 1st Position puts you in the natural key of the harmonica- When you play mostly blow notes on your key of "C" harmonica you will be in the key of "C". If you have a diatonic harmonica in the key of "A", your 1st Position playing would then be in the key of "A". This style of playing is called 1st Position or "Straight Harp".

  • Simple melodies and folk rock style- 1st Position is typically used for simple melodies like "Oh Sussanah" or "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and widely used in a folk rock context, a la Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen (and many other singer-songwriters).

  • "1st Position" jamming, emphasize blow notes- If you take any song in a major key and use the same keyed major harmonica (i.e. key of "C" for both), you can instantly jam along with it if you stay in the middle of the harmonica and primarily, but not exclusively stick to the blow notes (Bob Dylan songs, with or without harmonica, are a great place to try this out). Resolution to the key of the music can be found on holes 4 and 7 blow. Remember, chose the diatonic harmonica that is in the same key as the key of the CD or "live" song, or it just won't sound right. If you play only by yourself, the key of harmonica is not important.



Watch a "Full-Length Live Harmonica Class"

Video: "Playing Critiques IV" (Archive #74)
  • This is an example of Dave Gage's HarmonicaLessons.com "Participation" classes where members can interact in real time.

  • The other HarmonicaLessons.com class type is a topic or lecture class. Topic classes include: "Vertical Slot Single Notes", "Bending I, II, III", "Breathing: Lessons I, II", "Tongue Blocking", "Beginning Jamming", "Country Harmonica", "Chugging", "12-Bar Blues". View a complete:
    List of Archived Class Videos (with descriptions).

  • Take a look at the current Schedule for Online Classes page.

  • Member Benefits:- 75 Full-Length Classes -- Over 2500 minutes of Video Instruction (40+ hrs) -- Attend "Live Online Classes" (3-Every-week) -- Beginners thru Advanced -- Learn 24/7 -- Review video lessons as many times as you want -- 1.5 to 2 hrs. of Video added each week.

  • Check current Membership Pricing.



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