A blog about the Jaw harp.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good vibrations


Nepalese brass Murchunga

I recently read an interview with a Russian shaman. Russia is a big, diverse country with nine time zones and many ethnicities so amazing as it may seem to some people, there are shamans in some regions. The shaman was talking about the jaw harp and the positive vibrations it brings to the soul and body. He had a mystical approach to the instrument and one thing he said that stuck with me is that one should carry the j-harp with him/her in order to communicate with it. Get to know the instrument, get it to know you.

I don’t know about the rest but I have found at least that part to be true. The Jaw harp is one the most democratic instruments: everybody can afford one, it’s easy to carry and you don’t need lessons to play one. I’ve bought many jaw harps over the years and each time, I’ve found that it’s like a person. I have to get to know him/her before it sounds good and vice versa. Once there’s familiarity, care and love, it’s all nice: no panging, no twangs, no plinks, just good vibrations (Hey! Beach Boys!)

Those of you who read this blog know how much I love the jaw harp. I want people to know about it, pick one up and have fun with it. It’s a worldwide and ancient instrument that brings together different peoples with different histories together. In this age of fear of the other, a small, cheap, and easy to play instrument exists that says to us: you, man/woman, I am you in Nepal, France, Cambodia, Chile, India, Laos, Afghanistan or wherever you find me. I am you, everywhere.

If I know one thing is that we all need good vibrations. The jaw harp is not just an esoteric instrument reserved to shamans. It is an instrument that gives a particular flavor to a piece of music, the universal language. With that in mind, I spent some time to look for examples where the jaw harp is featured. As these few clips show, it comes up in unexpected places.

Listen closely and you can hear the good vibrations of the Jaw harp on this great song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.



Back in time, when The Who had Keith Moon and were musically daring, they too used the jaw harp.



In movies too you can hear the jaw harp. Here's the soundtrack to For a Few Dollars More, by the great film director Ennio Morricone. I just love the whistle and jaw harp together.



Here’s the intro to a 1970s TV show from France about the exploits of Mandrin, a French Robin Hood. Music by Lino Leonardi.




I hope you enjoyed these clips. There are many more examples but I have to leave some for you to discover. Until next time, boiiiiIIIiiiiiiininIIIininining!

1 comment:

veskimo said...

Thanks for your very informative and interesting blog. Well done, keep doing this work. I also have blog on jews harp theme but in Russian:
http://veskimo.livejournal.com/

there is translated version:
http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fveskimo.livejournal.com%2F&hl=ru&ie=UTF-8&sl=ru&tl=en