He said to me at the luau, “Cool so you play cross harp?” The guitarist of the band had me, I was about to fail the pop quiz. I had been playing harmonica for the better part of a month and had just bought my second harmonica, an A Diatonic. I knew enough that the 2 hole draw was bluesy but what in gods name was this cross harp I kept hearing about. I came back with, “For me, it’s all about the 2 hole draw.” He seemed satisfied.
I have been avoiding this post. I had an idea of what cross harp is, but to write a post about it is another thing. Here is the deal. I had answered correctly when I said, it’s all about the 2 hole draw. On a diatonic harmonica, the 2 hole draw is the first note in second position or “cross harp.” If you get nothing else from this post, remember that. If you, like me, want to play blues harmonica, we play cross harp by default. We start with the 2 hole draw. Here’s the deal though, when we play cross harp, the key we are playing in is not the key of the harmonica. That means, when someone says, “Lets play … in the key of G,” we don’t grab our G harp. Second position on G is D and we need to be playing in G. So what harp do we need? What harp has a 2 hole draw that plays a G? It’s the C harmonica.
That’s what got me. I thought to myself, “Crap, I’m going to have to learn every note on every harmonica.” (I know, the name of the site is harmonica notes but I meant my notes on learning to play the harmonica not the notes on the different harmonicas.) I don’t know if I am going to ever learn what notes every hole, blow, draw, bend, over blow, over draw, and chord on every harmonica plays. I probably will eventually know all the cross harp keys though, and probably the notes on my favorite harmonicas.
Here’s a cheat you can use. Take a sharpie and write an X (for cross harp) and the cross harp key on your harmonicas. As you play you will learn the cross harp keys. I got the ideas because the key labels are rubbing off of my harmonicas and I don’t want to get them confused.
I may as well tell you the cross harp keys for all 12 diatonic harmonica keys.
Ab=Eb, A=E, Bb=F, B=Gb, C=G, Db=Ab, D=A, Eb=Bb, E=B, F=C, Gb=Db, G=D
So there you have it, all the cross harp keys and the harmonicas they’re played on.