Argentine Harmonica - Tango on Chromatic Harmonica


Requirements for participants

  • Technical Level: advanced, intermediate skills
  • Language: English (or Spanish)


Argentine popular music is generally divided into 2 groups: Buenos Aires Tango (tango,vals, milonga), and rural folk music (zamba, chacarera, chamame...)

The history of argentine chromatic harmonica is related to all of these popular genres and its uniqueness developed from great players such as Hugo Diaz (1927-1977), Paco Garrido ands Luis Saltos, to name but a few. They incorporated, by imitation, the feeling of the popular music developed by instruments such as the violin, the flute, the bandoneon and the accordion (for example “delayed octaves” was born as an imitation of the bandoneon tango phrasing).

The aim of this workshop is, on one hand, to familiarize the student with Argentinian music and, on the other, to study the harmonica techniques which are needed to play it. Over several generations, Argentine harmonica stylists have developed a distinctive way of playing the instrument which continues to evolve today.

Together we will listen to examples, explore techniques, develop embellishments, create arrangements and have a lot of fun, inspired by the beauty of Argentine music, while taking into account the skill levels and experience of the students.


There are 2 general ways of playing the chromatic harmonica in Argentina:

  • One note embouchure: either “pucker/whistle position” or “tongue blocking”
  • and
  • Octave playing.
The Argentine player moves between these approaches, while also adding certain variations depending on the tonality of the song. Here are some examples:
  • Intervals: 2nds,3rds,6ths...
  • Chords: C (1234 blow), C# (1234 blow with button), Dm6 (drawing 1234), Ebm6 (drawing 1234 with button)
  • Effects (growl*, polyrhythm**, vibrato***, delayed octaves****) Ornaments (mordent, trill, appoggiatura, acciaccatura, glissando ...) 
*Growl: It’s a very personal effect which comes from growling from the throat.
** Polyrhythm: Effect in octave position produced by tongue strike.
*** Vibrato: There are several types of vibrato and they are produced with the hand, the jaw, the throat and the diaphragm.
****Delayed octaves (in Octave position, first play the upper note blocking the airflow of the lower note and then, maintaining the upper note, release the lower note to produce a full octave)


  • Examples of songs:
  • “Por una Cabeza” (Gardel-Lepera)
  • “Adios Nonino” (Astor Piazzolla)
  • “La Cumparsita” (Matos Rodrigez)
  • “Milonga para una Armonica” (Hugo Diaz)


Workshop entitles you to the following:

  • Minimum 11 teaching units of 75 min. or 90 min.
  • Admission to the sessions in the Kesselhaus on all days
  • Admission to the Harmonica Masters Concerts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
  • Admission to supporting program events on all days


> register now   



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