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David's Tip of the Day: MRI of the Bending Process - Part 2: Scooped Shape for Deeper Bend

David Barrett Admin's picture

On 12/2 I wrote...

"... you'll be presented with the terms 'Anterior' and 'Posterior' chambers. When bending on the harmonica (in both pucker and tongue block), a portion of your tongue humps up to create two chambers. Behind the hump of the tongue (towards the throat area) is called the Posterior Chamber and in front of the hump (towards your harmonica) is called the Anterior Chamber. The size (or tuning if you like) of the Anterior Chamber is what controls the depth of a bend. The lower the bend is (3''' for example) the more the constriction point moves back in the mouth, using more of the back of the tongue. The higher the bend is (3' for example) the more the constriction point moves forward in the mouth, using more of the front of the tongue. Experiment with this by playing the entire range of the 3 draw bend. Focus on what part of your tongue humps up and where in the mouth it's located."

Now that you have a sense of where the tongue is in your mouth, I want you to look very closely at the PDF ( at Figures 15 and 16.

In the text I state...

"Note that the hump of the tongue (for the 3'''), where the constriction point is found, has not moved much further back than that of the 3 Draw Whole Step Bend (3'') in Figure 15, but the tongue in the anterior chamber has lowered to create a more concave, or 'scooped' shape, and thus the larger chamber needed for this lower-pitched bend is created. Creating this 'scooped' shape can be a key element in bending low notes/reeds. I recommend students looking to deepen their bends (commonly on holes 3, 2 and 1 on the A Harmonica and below) experiment with this scooped shape."

Let me also add that you can use the scooped shape to fine-tune your bend (to make sure it's in tune), by scooping it more (deeper bend) or less (allowing the bend to release, or raise in itch slightly).

Experiment with this.