Harp Gear harmonica amplifiers for harp amp players.

Bending Help

A couple of questions have come up about bending with the tongue down and on the bottom of the mouth after the tone article. Here's my explanation:

When bend I actually move the back of my tongue and throat to do it.  I leave my jaw in place and I slightly pull my tongue to the rear of my throat which causes the tongue to rise slightly in the back.  When I say I pull my tongue I am using that as a way of describing the feeling of the movement.  The actual movement on the front of the tongue is so miniscule it is almost nonexistent. When you "pull" your tongue back it causes the tongue to rise slightly.  This redirects the air and causes the reed to bend.  The front of the tongue moves back slightly but stays down.  It is much the same as when you learn to bend tongue blocked.  You can't move the front of your tongue too much when you are tongue blocking because you would lose the clarity of the note. A lot of players bend using their jaw and tongue but notice the jaw more.  This method of bending is more like forcing a bend.  Just using your tongue and throat is like finessing.  Try while inhaling on the 4 hole of your favorite harp to pull the tongue back while keeping it flat in the front and allowing it to rise in the rear.  You will feel the pull in the part of your throat where the jaw and throat meet on the bottom side of the back of the mouth.  You should also notice the back of the tongue is coming up so slightly.  This isn't easy at first and it is why a lot of players have problems bending while tongue blocked.  The bend should sound if you are moving the tongue right.  If you are getting the bend and it is right you will be able to hold your jaw and feel it staying down and not moving.  While I am bending I can feel the muscles in the area where the jaw meets the throat moving up slightly but the front of the jaw is stationary.  This will take some time to get but when you do it will allow you to bend while tongue blocking or lip pursing and with great tone.  I am not saying that bending the other way will not give you great tone.  This way will just allow you to open the oral cavity more and create an even bigger resonance chamber.  This was a little hard to describe but I am more than happy to answer any questions to help clear it up.  ( I would like to thank Larry "The Iceman" Eisenberg for teaching me to bend originally.  This is very close to the description he gave me when I was first learning. )