Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Harping On: Ed Vadas

1. You are a very meticulous musician. What is important to you in your music?


The important thing is that I make the music for me.  So that I like it.  Of course, I want the public to enjoy it as well, but I don't like to write or perform with guessing what people will enjoy.  


As for specifics...I want to always have a unique way of saying things both lyrically and instrumentally  included in the tune.   I want my songs to always have something subtle and special, where the metaphor thrives while being natural.   Arrangements should not be like cartoon chase music, but appear to bo something that might have happenned spontaneously.


2. You know a lot about the harp. I mean a LOT. How have you learned so much about the instrument?


Well... let's say that I have an idea about harmonica.  My philosophy is to try to use the harmonica in a way that emphasizes it's strengths.   Most players or all instruments these days emphasize the solo aspect of their instrument and spend little time thinking orchestrally on how best to use their instrument to make the song and arrangement better.   Rather than having a philosophy of play that involves theme and structure, they most often fallback on chugs and call and answer cliches both.   After one gets to a certain...relatively easy accessible skill level on the harp...who is soloing makes little difference... lack of playing thematically just makes one another harp player. (or any instrument including drums...themes make music...cliches and the mundane kills music)


3. What is your harp of choice, and why?


I am a horner "marine band" man.  Probabally because I like the way it mutates tuning wise.  (until it goes just plain awful!


4. What harp techniques are the most important to learn?


Get a great warble and seven hole blow

Learn to tongue block everything chords and single notes alike.

Learn to play all single note riffs as chords and warbles and vice-versa.

Learn to sing...if only to understand, plavement and phrasing.

Learn to play diaphragm breathing, it will help your singing

Learn that the harmonica harmonizes and that what you think is only to be played over the first, second, or third four bars of a 12 bar tune, can be played interchangeable...thinking of thing like a turn around being just for a turnaround is ONLY setting a false limit on your scope of playing.

Play thematically!


5. What important aspect of harp playing do you think is often ignored?

Like I said for the previous answer to question 4.

and learning some theory so as to give the harp player more of a chance to be creative within those 10 holes.


6. Do you do very much harp maintenance?




7. Who are your favorite harmonica players?


There are plenty of good ones around these days but they pretty much learned from the early folks.

Little Walter, Big Walter, Sonny Boy 1 and 2, and sonny Terry should give you enough chops for this lifetime


8. What would you say is the key for successfully playing music with others?


You have to use your ears and instincts combined with your philosophy of play to really be able to play with quality players and be welcomed. (anyone can be stupid and sit in, but not for long)


9. What advice would you give to anyone currently learning to bend?


Know the note you are bending to, play it on a guitar or piano then bend to match.  Keep in mind that lower key harps  need  slight changes in breath to stay in  pitch.


10. Any last words for members of HOOT?


It is easy to lull yourself into a feeling that you are good, but remember...most harmonica players SUCK!!



Well the last answer is true enough...the harmonica is in harmony with the key it is in, so it is very easy for someone to think they are better than they are because the notes are in tune...but then, most beginners start sucking and bend good notes to the last answer is a warning more than a put down....You can fool around with fellow novices and think you are making music, but it takes a lot of understanding, study, and practice to make the toy harmonica into a viable instrument.  Unfortunately...most harmonica owners actually delude themselves into believing they can play without anything tangibel to back up their assumption....

such is the harmonica.



1 comment:

  1. Wow, well I need to go to my woodshed and practice a bit after that post. Thanks.


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