As a beginner the sound of simultaneous octaves on the harmonica (diatonic and chromatic) is one of those techniques that makes you turn around and say "what the hell was that?". It catches your ear because it sounds impossible, especially if you play lip pursing. You say to yourself, "how do you play two notes at the same time which are not on conjacent holes? That's magic!".
Putting technicalities to one side, it's also attention grabbing simply because it sounds beautiful. It can transform the harmonica into a miniature horn section. I fell in love with the technique listening to one of my all time heroes William Clarke, he used them masterfully on both the diatonic and chromatic.
This week I have uploaded two videos about how to improve your octaves on the harmonica. If you already have a handle on the technique each video provides a scale that will help you develop more control and discover some new licks. These exercises will be helpful to medium and advanced players. If you don't know how to play octaves on the diatonic or chromatic I encourage you to give it a try. The first video gives a short introduction on how to play them.
In reality getting a handle on the basic technique isn't that difficult. To play the same note an octave apart in unison, rather than consecutive single notes, on the harmonica requires blocking the holes in between so they don't sound at the same time. You do this with your tongue. For instance on a C diatonic, blocking the 2 and 3 holes so the 1 and 4 holes can sound either a C octave when blowing or a D when drawing. Sounds more tricky than it actually is and what's more, if you are thinking about learning tongue blocking, octaves are a great place to start.
Here are the videos, enjoy!