Cross Harp Blues

Cross harp, or second position, is what you get when you play in the key of G on a C harmonica. Cross harp is the sound of blues and American roots music, and it’s all about bending accurately.

The Blues Scale

-2 	-3' 	4 	-4' 	-4 	-5 	6

6 	-5 	-4 	-4' 	4 	-3' 	-2

The low notes:

-2 	-2" 	-1 	-1' 	1

1 	-1' 	-1 	-2" 	-2

A couple of things to think about:

1. Getting a clear, strong, UNBENT 2 draw.
This is a tricky draw note to play clearly. Either the note won’t play, or it’s too breathy, or it bends when you don’t want it to. Make sure you’re isolating only the 2nd hole with your pucker, and experiment with playing long, slow notes. Try it at different volumes: loud, medium, quiet.

2. Third Hole Draw – Bluesy or Sweet?
Listen to good traditional blues harp players. Notice when they sound bluesy and when they sound sweet. Bluesy usually means their 3rd hole draw is bent a half-step. Sweet usually means they’re edging toward an unbent 3 draw. They might swoop up to it from below, but notice where the swoop up concludes – is it bluesy or sweet?