The reed self-sounding musical instrument harp has a fairly simple design. In the opening, the tongue oscillates freely, with the help of which the sound is created. In this case, the oral cavity and nasopharynx of the musician act as a resonator. Mastering the instrument is not so difficult, the main thing is to learn how to hold it correctly.
A musical instrument can be arc and lamellar. Learning to play the jew’s harp is quite interesting. The simple design allows you to create mesmerizing melodies. The sound is affected by the physical characteristics of the instrument, especially its vibrating part.
The easiest way to set up a jew’s harp is if there is a ring at the end of the working part. So the tongue can be weighted with wax or tin solder. As a result, the tone will drop. In the absence of a ring, additional material can be soldered directly onto the knee.
Do not use lead in this matter, it harms the body.
After weighting, the jew’s harp is washed. Also, experts do not recommend greatly understating the tone. Initially, the jew’s harp was invented as an instrument with a high sound. With excessive modernization, the melody turns out to be poor, inexpressive.
Raising the tone is a little more difficult. The tongue ring or knee should be reduced. The procedure is carried out with the help of tools, ordinary wire cutters are also suitable. You can not do this with your teeth or improvised materials. After reducing the ring, it is necessary to weight the tongue again until the fine adjustment.
It is worth noting that the musician must carry out all such manipulations with the instrument very responsibly. You can not bend or bend the tongue in the absence of skills. The risk of simply breaking a knee is great. Also, you can not grind the thickness of the tongue. This will negatively affect the maximum number of reproduced overtones.
It is not recommended for musicians without experience to tune the instrument at all. When manufacturing, the master lays down certain parameters. If you break them, then return the jew’s harp to its original form will no longer work. Tips for learning to play the instrument will be useful for beginners.
- The technique of extracting and changing the sound should be brought to automatism. This will allow you to play beautiful melodies for a long time.
- All movements of the musician must be silent. You should also pay attention to the position of the tool. The base must not interfere with the vibrating element. Otherwise, the melody will be saturated with overtones.
- While playing the jew’s harp, you need to relax. Tension spoils the melody, so it is important to hone your ability to hold the instrument.
Where to start learning?
The basics of playing the jew’s harp begin with choosing the right position. In order for the sound to be of the highest quality, you need to properly clamp the instrument in your mouth. The ability to hold a jew’s harp should be brought to automatism . Then you can already learn various techniques for extracting sound.
How to hold a jew’s harp?
Professional musicians know that it is very important to hold the instrument comfortably and confidently. This affects not only the state of the player, but also the beauty of the sound of the jew’s harp. There are many ways, everyone can choose the most comfortable for themselves.
The best option for the arc model:
- place the rounded part of the jew’s harp on the index and adjacent fingers;
- press the thumb firmly against the place of fixation of the tongue, it must move freely in the process of creating a melody, otherwise the vibrating element will not resonate.
The sound of the jew’s harp is due to vibrations from the movement of the tongue. At the same time, this sound will really be heard only if the instrument is placed near the mouth. The base of the instrument should be pressed against the mouth. The teeth are opened so that the working element of the jew’s harp can freely oscillate and vibrate. The tip of the working part of the instrument should be located approximately in the middle of the mouth.
Thus, you can enjoy the most open and clear sound. The melody gets inside the musician and resonates. In this case, the respiratory and speech organs act as an amplifier. It is impossible to achieve sound from this musical instrument in another way.
At the same time, the tongue takes part in the process itself, and even air circulation plays a role. With a competent approach, a melody of any complexity can be played on the jew’s harp. A musical instrument is capable of producing a clear sound and overtones. As a result, the tone receives a special timbre and shade.
First you need to press the jew’s harp to your teeth. Then withdraw the vibrating element of the tool and release. This will allow you to hear the voice of the jew’s harp. Further in the learning process, the musician can extract the most versatile sounds.
If you move your tongue inside the oral cavity and press it against the palate, then the structure of the sound will change. To increase the volume and prolong the sound, the jew’s harp is pressed against the teeth. However, this is not the only thing that matters. Lips should grab and fix the instrument. The position of the jew’s harp directly affects the volume.
You can make the sound quieter if you press the instrument to your lips. In this case, the duration and loudness of the sound depends on the voltage. If the lips are relaxed, then the sound is quiet and short. At the same time, the optimal force should allow you to keep the jew’s harp in place motionless. You should relax slightly if there is a feeling of tension in the lips or arm.
Sound Extraction Methods
At the beginning of training, you should master simple tricks. Before playing, it is important to make sure that the work item has no obstacles in the way. It is enough to get it by the teeth and return it to its original position. If the tongue moves freely in both directions, then there are no problems and you can proceed to the next step.
The jew’s harp should be held firmly with one hand, and the working part of the instrument should be set in motion with the other. To do this, just hit the tongue with your finger. Touches should be sharp, but moderate, short, jerky.
It’s not worth the effort and pressure.
The blow can be direct and reverse. In the first version, the working part is touched when the finger moves towards you, in the second – away from you. Usually, with any kind of impact, a musical instrument sounds the same. Alternating views allows you to play a melody with a complex rhythm or high tempo. You can learn this technique at home, you just need to practice a lot.
The first lessons consist of learning various schemes for extracting sound from a jew’s harp. There are 4 main ways. Each musician must choose the best option based on their skills and features of the melody. Consider the key ways to play.
- Drop your elbow . Point your index finger up and slightly strain, while gathering the rest into a fist. Impacts on the working part of the tool are made by the side part or pad. Moreover, to touch with the index finger, it is necessary to bend and unbend the brush in the wrist. This method allows you to perform melodies according to any scheme, with a variety of tempo and dynamics. The universal technique is very popular in America and Europe.
- Place the elbow at shoulder level or slightly higher . The brush should be held slightly higher than the musical instrument, it should hang over the jew’s harp without tension. Leave the index finger, and collect the rest into a fist. To strike with an edge, you should rotate the brush in your wrist. The method is as universal as the previous one. It has gained particular popularity in Asia.
- Lower your elbow below the level of the musical instrument. Put your fingers in the boat, slightly take the big one to the side. The hand, as it were, covers the tongue. The blow is made with the free thumb, its middle part. To do this, bend and unbend the arm at the elbow. A good way for a slow and measured melody. Also, the sound extraction method allows you to hide the musical instrument from the weather, other people’s views.
- Position your elbow at shoulder level or slightly higher. Hold the relaxed hand over the jew’s harp in a free position. Place the thumb near the temple. To strike, alternately bend 2-3 fingers from the ring finger to the index finger. The technique is quite complicated, it is almost impossible to apply it correctly the first time, it will take a lot of training. The method is used in cases where it is necessary to extract a complex of 2-3 sounds. It should be borne in mind that the blow falls on only one side of the tongue.
You can learn how to play the jew’s harp on your own, most importantly, follow all the basic rules and instructions. Impacts on the tongue should be carried out so that the element is not knocked out of the plane of its movement. Otherwise, the working part will touch the base of the tool. As a result, instead of a melody, unpleasant clangs will sound.
Some methods of extracting sound are universal, while others allow you to solve a specific problem. The musician himself should choose the optimal method of playing, taking into account the peculiarities of the melody. In some cases, you will have to alternate them to perform one song. As a result, listeners are attracted not only by the sound, but also by the movements of the musician.
For high-quality sound, you should breathe correctly while playing the melody. A long breath along with the beat will make the sound longer. Short and quick breathing allows you to adjust the strength and duration of the sound. Breaths per hit can be done about 2-3.
When playing a fast melody, you should breathe with your diaphragm. With this breathing, the muscles of the press are involved. Sometimes the jew’s harp sounds even just from the musician’s breath, without hitting the working element. Inhalations and exhalations should be adjusted to the features of the melody.
There is a relationship between the sound and the movement of the lips. It has to do with air movement. If the lips are open, then the musical instrument sounds quieter, and if it is covered, it sounds louder. When inhaling, it is recommended to close your mouth so as not to create obstacles for the tongue.
Changing the sound
A jew’s harp with one reed is tuned to one note. This sound is called the fundamental tone of a musical instrument. The oral cavity only resonates sound, does not create it. However, this does not mean that the possibilities of the jew’s harp are limited. The musician can extract various overtones from the instrument with the help of speech organs.
There are techniques for changing the sound that you need to learn to complete automatism. This will allow you to combine a variety of sounds, turn them into music. It is especially important to develop these skills for musicians who love to play improvisation. In such a situation, it is important to have a clear moderation in the sound that will sound in the next second. Consider the features of the technique.
- To get the lowest sound, you should prepare for the pronunciation of the sound “o”. In this case, the mouth is rounded and widened, and the tongue goes back. To perform the technique, all organs must imitate pronunciation, but the vocal cords should not be strained.
- To get the highest sound, you need to imitate the pronunciation of the sound “and” . As a result, the oral cavity becomes smaller, and the tongue is practically pressed against the lower teeth.
So with a simple movement of the tongue, you can change the tone of the jew’s harp. This changes the volume of the oral cavity, which plays the role of a resonator. Additionally, lips, throat and voice apparatus should be connected. In this case, the sounds will be as multifaceted as possible.
There has long been a well-known technique – imitation of a lark. It is used by many musicians who have mastered the jew’s harp. For implementation, it is necessary to silently pronounce the sounds “th-th-th”. In this case, the tongue quickly moves forward and goes back to its original position.
To begin with, you should repeat the movement along with the blow, and then you can experiment.
No less popular is the imitation of the singing of a goose. This technique, in general, is more classified as classical, traditional. Language movement is more complex here. You should also move it back and forth, additionally moving the tip up and down. The tongue should touch the sky and break away from it.
The sound characteristic largely depends on which organ is used when extracting it. Overtones, double voices can be obtained in various ways. The respiratory and oral cavities are usually involved.
- Breathing through the nose provokes nasal sounds. It is worth noting that it is not necessary to breathe. You just need to imitate the same position of the nasopharynx as during nasal breathing. Understanding the technique takes some practice. During training, it is not recommended to move the ligaments and other organs of the speech apparatus.
- Silent movements of the pharynx produce the pharyngeal sound of the jew’s harp. In the process, you should hold your breath. To change the sound, movements of the closed pharynx are needed. To imitate the singing of a cuckoo, tighten the muscles of the throat. The language is translated into a position, as when pronouncing the sounds “e” and “o”. After hitting the instrument, the musician moves his tongue, as if pronouncing “kuk-kuk”. It is important to understand that there should be no sound from pronunciation. It is only necessary to translate different organs into the desired positions.
- The method of changing the sound with the help of the pharynx is rather complicated physically and technically . However, such a skill allows you to play melodies on the jew’s harp that simply cannot be repeated on any other musical instrument. In this case, it is here that the techniques of stopping the sound should be used.
Loudness and length of sound
These characteristics are influenced by several factors. Initially, it is worth considering the force of impact on the working part and the position of the tool itself. The sound will be loud at the time when the reed moves with maximum amplitude. The musical instrument itself should be pressed against the teeth, and the lips should fix it as tightly as possible. In this position, air circulates only between the body and the vibrating element of the jew’s harp.
The maximum duration of the sound is possible if you press the musical instrument to your teeth. With this arrangement, the working part fluctuates much longer. The sound will be shorter if you press the instrument against your lips. You can minimize the duration as much as possible if you place your finger near the place where the tongue is attached to the base . The sound will stop at the moment of touch.
In some melodies, it is important to clearly control the stop of the sound. It is not always possible to wait until the tongue stops on its own. Vargan is quite diverse in its sound, so you should learn how to use its capabilities to the maximum. There are several ways to stop the sound.
- Remove the musical instrument from your mouth . First, you should move it away from the teeth without removing the lips. Only then remove the jew’s harp completely. This rule is for the safety of the musician himself. Otherwise, the vibrating part may touch the teeth and cause injury. As a result of the manipulation, the sound will disappear completely.
- Touch the tongue with your finger. This should be done with the hand that holds the musical instrument. If it is inconvenient to act this way, then you can use the same finger that strikes. Some musicians use the tongue to stop the vibrations of the instrument. The sound will disappear, but the fading will be audible. This is not suitable for all tunes.
- Make a powerful, sharp exhalation. The sound will first increase, and then fade and disappear. Breathing while playing allows you to control the behavior of a musical instrument.
Playing the jew’s harp is suitable for creative people. With such a musical instrument, you need to experiment and train a lot. To begin with, it is important to master the basic techniques and bring them to full automatism. Then even a complex melody can be performed without much effort.
You can learn more about the features of playing the jew’s harp in the next video.