5 core levels of playing a jaw harp

When you buy a music instrument, it is finished. It already has keys, strings and a resonator. And by pressing the same key, you will receive the same sound. But when you buy a jaw harp, you don't have ready-made keys yet. You have to create them yourself and learn how to use them. These keys are five levels of sound creation: beat, lips, tongue, throat and breath.

An experienced jaw harp player can simultaneously control all five levels, and create a unique sound line on each of them. This is aerobatics.

To achieve that, you need to master each of the levels separately. You need to learn to feel each "key" of your body, understand how it works and use it consciously while playing a jaw harp. You will find out that there is a huge number of different variations in the sound.

And the challenge is for your body to remember each such variation and the sound associated with it. In the future, this will allow you to bring muscles to the desired position with just one thought and quickly create the needed sound.

It's like learning a dance. First, you need to repeat simple movements many times. Until they start to come out automatically. And then these movements turn into a single and continuous stream.

As you refine your performance at each sound level to technical excellence, you continually improve your jaw harp skill level. It becomes much easier for you to express your creative intent as your body becomes a musical instrument.


Each sound level has its own specific functionality. Let's consider each of them separately.


1) Beat. In the shamanic tradition, the jew's harp is called a small horse, and such image accurately depicts the process. Entering a certain rhythm is like riding a horse. It is with the rhythm the jaw harp flow begins. From the rhythm, it is filled with strength and energy. Using a jew's harp, you can perform incredibly complex rhythmic patterns.

But the beat often becomes a stumbling block for many jaw harp players. Plucking is often used instead of proper hitting. This leads to the monotony of the rhythm. Such a horse does not have the strength to carry you far.

But if you devote enough time to hitting technique and master many different rhythmic patterns, then there will always be strong horses in your stall, ready to bring you to the right place at any time. Your tunes will sound powerful and spectacularly.

It is recommended to devote at least 70% of the time to the hitting technique at the initial stage of mastering the jew's harp. Otherwise, all other techniques will sound poor and you will never have ease of play.


2) Lips. The sound wave goes through the body through an imaginary tube starting at the oral cavity continuing to the throat and trachea. The lips are the front edge of such a tube, the entrance to it. It is from here that we begin to direct the sound wave further through the body.

The lips are responsible for the niceties of the jew's harp sound. With the help of your lips, you can emphasize the smallest crystals of sound. You can create various special effects with your lips by touching the jaw harp.


3) Tongue. It can perform both rhythmic and melodic functions in playing a jaw harp. The number of tricks is huge. Functionally, language is like a switch: it changes and directs the flow of sound waves through the body.


4) Throat. The throat contains the richest melodic possibilities. This mechanism was created by nature itself to express thoughts, emotions and feelings. Articulation with the throat while playing the jew's harp is very similar to articulation with a voice while singing. The difference is that the vocal cords are not used here.


5) Breathing. Breathing can emphasize individual frequencies and control the dynamics of sound. Make it stronger or weaker. A great rhythmic potential is hidden in the possibilities of breathing. With the right breathing technique, you can create very complex rhythmic patterns.

Over time, you will learn to feel how your breath can control your internal energy processes. The breathing techniques are good practice by themself. It will change your understanding of breathing.


Having mastered all the variety of sounds at each of the levels, you will begin to cope with the jew's harp much more confidently. And here at Jawharper.com you can find and buy a jaw harp of your liking.


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