Chromatic harp

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Chromatic harp

Postby eline » Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:52 am

Any chromatic harp players out there with good advice?
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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby jeffl » Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:23 pm

Pay particular attention to anything you can learn about playing in 3rd position; if you haven't already learned this position, nearly every tutorial out there with any merit contains a segment on this topic.
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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby bosco » Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:25 pm

If you find that advice before I do, let me know.

I've been fooling around with chromatic for little while now, and everything has a decided minor feel and sound to it. I suspect that is because I an still trying to play some stuff in 2nd position.

I have read that a chrom will sound more major (like a diatonic) with 3rd position playing. Can anyone help...please don't just say, yeah, 3rd position is the way to go...point us toward some viable chrom blues instruction. Thanks.

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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby barbequebob » Mon Mar 13, 2006 5:49 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Mar-13-06 AT 12:56 PM (EST)]Most blues players tend play chromatics primarily in 3rd position, usually taking a key of C chromatic (be it a Hohner 270 or 64 type chromatic) and play it in D. It automatically is in Dm, but is often used as a major and in blues, you can flub the major/minor line fairly well and you don't need to use the slide as much except when you want some 1/2 steps (like going from F to F# on the 3rd, and from A down to Ab, as examples).

2nd position can be played but you just need to remember that the root note of 2nd position is no longer a draw note.

Players who come from the George Harmonica Smith school of chromatic harp will also use 3rd position on the 12 hole chromatics, which come in many different keys, and will also play chromatic in FIRST position as well. Once you get away from 2nd and 3rd, you WILL need to know your scales, and some theory, and how to use the slide for this. George Smith's "Boogie 'N' With George" and "Chicago City" and "Monkey On A Limb" are all tunes on a chromatic played in 1st position.

Mark Hummel has a tune similar to "Boogie 'N' With George" called "Humblebug" that's also in 1st position.

Norton Buffalo's first solo LP in the 70's had a tune on a chromatic caled "Puerto De Azul," and this is chromatic being played in 4th position.

Study the note layout charts for the chromatics and commit them to memory and learn your scales and theory and you'll get more mileage out of the chromatic. Little Walter plays chromatic almost always in 3rd, and almost never used the slide regardless if the tune was in a major or a minor key. Carey Bell does the same, but doesn't use the slide at all, and Junior Wells played chromatic in 3rd, but did use the slide quite well when I saw him using one.

Winbslow Xerxa had a series of articles on blues chromatic when he had his old magazine HIP, and contributes to an online harmonica magazine called http://www.harmonicasessions.com on this too.
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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby dblues » Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:21 pm

I suggest learning to play blues with a chromatic this way.
Pick a song you like to play with a diatonic, then play it on a chromatic. Depending on what key the song is in and what chrom harps (key/first blow note) you have will dictate what position you are in. The masters of this instrument can play in all keys with a C tuned chrom. Most "Blues" players use the 3rd position and play on minor tunes and have several different key tuned chroms. As to specific technique? All I can say is keep experimenting with it. The easiest to play is, say a Dmin blues song with a C (key/first blow note)chrom harp(3rd position) By the way, it sounds minor because the draw chords are minor and/or various voicings of extended chords.



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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby bosco » Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:27 pm

Thanks, Bob and D....

Now that's some quality information.

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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby dcblues » Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:56 pm

Make sure you learn your octaves. The octaves on the chromatic can be difficult at first (you need to block three holes) but it's a very nice sound, especially for third position blues.
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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby barbequebob » Tue Mar 14, 2006 6:19 pm

On the octaves, on diatonics you open your mouth over 4 holes and the tongue blocks out the middle two, but for octaves on a cromatic, you'll need to open wider and open up to 5 holes and tongueblock the middle three. If you use the method that a diatonic player would do, you'd be playing in 6ths, which is what James Cotton, Little Walter, Carey Bell, and Junior Wells does on the chromatic, and guys coming from the George Smith school of chromatic like Kim Wilson, William Clarke and Rod Piazza are playing true octaves on the chromatic.
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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby huge blues » Tue Mar 14, 2006 9:34 pm

Before you drop bank on a chromatic harp, check into a solo-tuned Marine Band 364.
It's identical to a chromatic but without the slide and the price tag. Keep in mind that with a chromatic that the C blow notes are doubled-up and you need to avoid hitting both of them at the same time or you get a dischord and the dogs will begin to howl.
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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby dblues » Fri Mar 17, 2006 10:06 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Mar-17-06 AT 05:08 PM (EST)]Hey Eline, if you would like to hear me playing a chromatic harp go to:
http://www.soundclick.com/dblues

and listen to the song "Oh It's Cool" It's the 25th song down the list.




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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby eline » Sat Mar 18, 2006 12:57 am

DBlues-
Love the sound man. Someday....

Thanks for the link.

E
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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby barbequebob » Sat Mar 18, 2006 4:59 pm

You can also hear chromatic from me on my website http://www.barbequebob.com or on the my MP3 site http://music.mp3lizard.com/barbequebob/
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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby julio1958 » Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:02 pm

I'm just gettin into my 64 a bit,always been intimidated by it, the best think that works for me is to leave the button alone ...lol. 3rd position.
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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby eline » Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:48 pm

Dblues,
give me some inside. I have a super 64, and most of the holes are rather easy to play. But the few holes that seem to give me a difficult time are the first 6 holes, the four dotted and the first two of the next octave. Is this normal, and something that I need to learn to work through or does my harp need some fine tunning? The holes play, but it seems like I can't have the air tight fit I want, or it chokes.

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RE: Chromatic harp

Postby barbequebob » Thu Mar 23, 2006 7:08 pm

ONe thing to remember with chromatics is that the low octaves can be tough for some people, and you cannot use the same breath force on a chromatic as you do with a diatonic and these harps are louder than you think they are. Learning real breath control is even more important because playing too hard will force a bend, and the windsaver valves aid with reed playing volume, but when you force a reed to bend lower than a 1/4 step flat from sheer breath force, these notes will blank out, especially in the bottom octaves. You're likely guilty of the cardinal sin of harp playing: using excessive breath force AKA playing them way too damned hard all the time, and this horrible habits cause FAR more playing problems than defects in the manufacture of harmonicas ever will.
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