NOTE: i wrote this, sat on it for a couple hours, then read what i wrote before pushing the post button. personal restraint in place.....
RATS, here i go again! <deep breath>
right on aj!! pucker allows a player almost limitless ability to create tonal variation on the harmonica. mostly over-emotional, hammy, amateurish variations in tone.
now, keep in mind that i've heard you play, and i like what i hear. you seem to possess great tone, tasteful expression, good articulation.
AND i've listened to great, world class players that used pucker, and have achieved true mastery over their instrument. BUT......
most people who use pucker are quite similar to amateur actors in their almost limitless need to squeeze every morsel of emotional content out of every phrase, every syllable of every word, every moment of performance. making sure every bit of feeling the actor is capable of is expressed in every utterance. regardless of the true requirements and scope, the true content of the part. who cares if they can't play the song right, as long as their emotional message is put right out in front!
just my opinion, mind you.
after listening to hours and hours of youtube and private video and audio tracks of players from all over the world, it disappoints me that so many people take music as a way to completely drench listeners in their internal angst or whatever emotional tidal wave is going on inside them. the amateurs show very little taste or discrimination in what they say when they play, but they sure do have LOTS to say. and they want to make absolutely sure that every one of their listeners hear it.
what's sad about that these players is that they place their own message ahead of the message the music was written to convey. who cares about the delicacy and taste of mozart as long as you can drown the listener in squeezes, bends, extreme vibrato and all the other tricks of pucker-meisters in the desire to show the listeners how deeply they are affected by the music they are caricaturing, or the incredible, world-shattering depths of emotion they feel? who cares about the romance and majesty of beethoven as long as it is soaked in over-emotional wails and bends masquerading as "expression"?
in both the aforementioned examples, the composers achieved greatness because their work already contained all the emotion they wanted to express. playing the parts well, result in magnificent works. listen to any great symphony or chamber group to see what i mean. i cringe at the thought of eine kleine nachtmusik played the way so many pucker players do.
what depresses me even more, btw, are professionals who are obvious masters of their instruments who insist on indulging in this musical over-acting. larry adler comes to mind here, among others, imo.
i don't agree that tongue blocking prohibits tonal coloration using the tongue. a simple throat vibrato is just a combination of tongue and throat muscles varying the pitch of the harmonica to create a pleasing sound. that same mechanism can draw considerable variation in tone, for those who are willing to learn how. i do agree, it aint easy.
as to articulation, well.......i've heard the best players in the world play using tongue blocking, and they (murad and peterson particularly) seem to have no trouble getting around their harmonicas rapidly and accurately. ray tankersley, bob berthiume, chuck fendall, pud mc caskey (stagg mc mann), all played tb and articulated very well. from legato to pizzicato, and from lento to prestissimo, they can get to the notes in what ever music they are performing without misses and those accidental grace notes known as slop.
AND they managed to keep their personal emotional baggage in their baggage compartments, instead of displaying it for all to uhm....."enjoy".
well, perhaps pucker players who can't seem to learn how to articulate or express themselves while tongue-blocking haven't been willing to put the time into their instrument to truly master it, but that's just my opinion too. perhaps its a low tolerance for their own lack of ability, or a lack of discipline or something, i dont' know.
yes, tongue blocking requires some effort and discipline to learn, and even more to master, but then again, the harmonica IS a musical instrument, not an easy to use, anyone can be a prodigy toy, right?
imo, pucker's true home is with diatonic players where wailing and bending and all other manner of gimmickry is part and parcel of playing the instrument. on a chromatic i think pucker is a waste of time and a limitation on the true expressive range of the instrument. apologies to pete ruth and howard levy, who really ARE masters and have a master's appreciation of emotional expression in music.
and to top off my disappointment tonight is reading a post by someone who actually does a good job of playing harmonica using pucker telling beginners that tongue blocking is a sure road to harmonica heck, or at least an insurmountable handicap. whether that's ignorance or arrogance, i can't tell.
okay, that's me with restraint in place. <sigh> oh well, some days better than others!
if nothing else aj, between the two of us, we've probably started up yet another spirited debate on the pros and cons of both techniques!
or i've invited a flood of flame on myself. oh well!