First published in 1990, The Harp Handbook has often been referred to as “the harmonica player’s bible”. Legendary jazz musician and Grammy Award winner Howard Levy praised it as “Excellent. The first real book about the diatonic harmonica” and the American Harmonica Newsletter called it “a milestone” in harmonica literature.
The diatonic harmonica is a strange instrument. It was never originally designed to create the sounds for which it subsequently became popular, and many of the techniques used to create these sounds were only imperfectly understood, even among accomplished players. With this groundbreaking book, Steve Baker set out to demystify the myths surrounding the instrument. The Harp Handbook was the first work in harmonica literature to provide detailed insights into how the diatonic harp actually functions, explaining in clear and simple terms exactly what has to happen when you bend notes, and how dual reed systems work, as well as providing detailed descriptions of the essential playing techniques and how to master them.
These have made it a standard work on the instrument and Steve Baker’s insights have subsequently been adopted by countless later authors and teachers. The Harp Handbook is not primarily an instructional book, but a reference work, with chapters on harmonica history, construction and tonal layout, how to play in different positions or keys on one instrument, what really happens when bending or overblowing notes, different playing techniques and styles, alternate tunings and much much more. Concluding with an extensive selection of exercises in notation and tabs, to be heard on the accompanying CD, it remains just as relevant today as when it first came out.