See the Bass Harmonica, 16 Hole Chromatic Harmonica and Chord Harmonica in Action!

By Hal Walker

Written by Hal Walker on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, Featured, Hal Walker, SPAH Interviews and Lessons

Everyone knows about the humble little 10 hole harmonica, but in this video I introduce you to the 16 hole chromatic harmonica and the monster bass and chord harmonicas. Sit back and enjoy as myself (Hal Walker) along with Al and Judy Smith (“The Hotshots”) play three songs for you: “Maltese Melody”, a fun Waltz ditty called “Valsentino” and soulful song called “In My Solitude”…

As you’ve probably heard me say, for most of my life, I played the 10-hole diatonic harmonica. In the late 90’s, I found the perfect Fender harmonica box to carry around all my different key harps. I knew about the chromatic harmonica and as a child, I actually owned a little Chrometta 8; but I mostly assumed that I would go through my life without ever playing the chromatic harmonica.

That was until I went to my first harmonica convention. It was at the Buckeye harmonica festival in Akron, Ohio in about 2010 that I first met Al and Judy Smith – the Harmonica Hotshots. They invited me to their home and they introduced me to the world of harmonica ensembles. I learned that Al has been playing professionally in harmonica ensembles since before the time of the Harmonicats.

On that autumn afternoon around the dining room table, Judy picked up a monster three pound bass harmonica. Al brought out his two and a half foot long chord harmonica. They handed me my first 16 hole chromatic harmonica. The sound that we created together on that day was amazing. There was no turning back.

It took a while to find my way around those 16 holes. Sometimes I felt completely lost. Al and Judy reminded me that the harmonica is a blind man’s instrument — you can’t see where you are. Since that day, I have had the privilege of spending time with this wonderful, generous and musical duo, Al and Judy Smith. I will always be grateful for what they have taught me and I’m so glad to introduce them to you now.

On a final note. Wherever you are in the world, I encourage you to seek out other harmonica players in your area.

You may even discover that there’s a harmonica club right in your own hometown. A great place to get connected is by becoming a member of the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the harmonica, SPAH. And don’t forget. Have Fun!

P.S. Check out Al and Judy’s fun version of the classic, Tequilla!

Hal Walker

Hal is a singer, songwriter and musical explorer. Hal Walker, the educator, enjoys ongoing collaborations with Ohio arts organizations. Hal has also released 3 albums of his songs and one CD of instrumental music. Hal Walker, the multi-instrumentalist, composes and improvises on the guitar, piano, harmonica, the khaen, jew’s harp and concertina. In collaboration, he has developed a modern version of a traditional African instrument called a “Banakula.” New! Hal Walker harmonica lessons for beginners, click: Music That Fits in Your Pocket

Comments (8)

  • Dennis

    |

    Thanks for the post and video Hal!! Those Harmonica Hotshots are awesome and the three of you together was fantastic!

    I especially liked the “In my Solitude” song with the vocals. -You’ve got a great singing voice too!!

    I really liked the song for it’s bluesy feel, yet also felt very dated and current at the same time. I’d love to hear other versions of that song because the chords bring a great distinctive beat. Thanks for bringing such a great song back to life for us that never got to ever hear it before. Great stuff!!

    Reply

  • byron thompson

    |

    This is harmonica playing at its maturest. AWESOME.

    Reply

  • Ted Beers

    |

    Hey JP really liked this video. I have tried to find Valsentino waltz to no avail. Any idea where I can find the music and lyrics?

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Hal Walker would be the man to ask on that one. jp

      Reply

  • FRANCKE

    |

    I thank you very much for your sendings..i all ear them, i see the world of harmonica is very likable…

    Reply

  • tony flores

    |

    I play bass with a band called harmonica magic in Culver City, L. A. county. The leader is 92 and still drive the Los Angeles freeways! I own the Suzuki double bass the Hohner baby bass, the Suzuki single reed bass, the Tombo pocket bass, the Hohner baritone polyphonia and the bass melodica -practically every double and single reed bass harmonica ever made! I do own a 8 inch bass amp which I am not using much since I am 86 and the amp is quite a heavy load. I have also been 3 SPAH conventions and enjoyed them all. Playing the harmonica is one way to relieve stress.

    Reply

  • Agustin Olmos

    |

    Where can I learn how to play this type of music?

    Reply

Tell the harmonica world what you think...

(Spamcheck Enabled)