Steve Levine (among others) asked about different positions on the harp.
This is my offering.
I am offering the following as a none musicologist/none reader of dots,
with only a small amount of music theory to hand.
Please feel free to pull me up when I go wrong.
And to the highly musicaly literate of you, please be patient with me :-)
The errors are all mine.
Heart felt thanks to my music Guru , John Howling Dog Brown, without whom....
It seems that most of the HARP list people are blues or jazz based
It also seems that many readers are not aware of the different modes or
keys that can be played in, on a single, standard tuned, diatonic harp.
I am a folk singer/multi musician, as such I play mostly FOLK MUSIC.
Folk music is good practice on the harp as so much English traditional
music is MODAL by nature. The HARP is a great way to learn about modes
of music, a better instrument than most really, as it is such a modal
instrument by nature.
I have learned more about modes with the harp in the last year,than I did
in the last twenty eight years of playing other instruments.
This bit about modes....
You can (it seems) consider playing in (say) Dm on a C harp as being in the
KEY of Dm. Or as playing in the DORIAN (Dm) mode of C on a C harp.
As I understand it both statments are correct as far as they go.
A classicaly trained musician may disagree, but as John says, "It doesn't
do to be too hard and fast about this".
In practice, (I speak as a guitar player here) if you say I'm in the key
of Dm, the guitar/banjo players will know what to play.
If you said, "I'm playing in the Dorian mode of C" they may know, but they
may tell you what you can do with your "bloody dorian mode"!
A lot of us are aware of playing in second and maybe third positions,
but that's all. Below is a table of other keys you can play in.
A list of harp positions and the Keys (or modes of C)
that you can play in on a Standard tuning diatonic follows.
(Taken to be a Key of C harp for ease).
I have a chart for all the other keys, but it would take too
long to type in. Transpose to suit the Key of your harp.
This table follows the Circle of Fifths, which Tony (somebody)
adopted in the 1970's. I think it is the standard now. (Anyone???)
The table I took this from has Em and Am in reverse positions, and I
assume that the name of the positions was taken from the most common
position to play in it pecking order. Anyone add to that?
HARMONICA CROSS HARP KEYS. (DIATONIC and CHROMATIC).
KEY of harp = C KEY Mode
1st position C Home key
2nd " " G Myxolidian (useful for blues)
3rd " " Dm Dorian (useful for jazz)
4th " " Am Aeolian (Relative minor of C)
5th " " Em Phrygian (quite a few folk tunes)
6th " " F Lydian (Some pentatonic tunes)
7th " " Bm Locrian (Turkish and Balkan tunes)
I asked Brendan Power about Bm, as I can find tunes in all the other
positions, but none in that one. His reply was "If you can play in six
out of seven modes, your doing well, don't worry about the seventh (Bm).
A few Turkish and Balkan tunes and that/s about it for Bm". So I
thought, "O.K. I can live with that"!
Does anyone out there know any (well known) tunes in Bm?
In passing, sixth position (F) or phrygian was Frank Zappa's favorite
mode/scale for playing on the guitar.
I am including a far from compleat, but growing list of stuff that John
and I play on the harp.
I like to use a tremolo tuned instument for MORRIS DANCE tunes.
I have a double sided C/G by Bandmaster (Eastern Europen made) Honer Golden
Melody in F for this stuff.
The Bandmaster is LOUD, robust, cheap, not too wet a sound, but best of all
It's tune like a chromatic so I have a full three octaves of useable notes
to go at. Very useful for Irish dance music.
Not all these are Folk Music, but the folk ones are listed in the key it
is played in on a C harp.
Some of the songs can be played in THREE KEYS on the same harp, without
resorting to bends. With bends so much more becomes avaliable to the
player. This list is not exhaustive, and it may be that you can play
more of the tunes in it in more than one key (with or without bends)
than I am aware of. It is just our own little list.
As a rough rule of thumb, If you can play a tune on the straight tuned
harp, then you can play it on the Am natural tuning too. Now and again
you may run out of notes on one harp, to find it can be played better
on the other.
List of Mouthi tunes. (For a major diatonic).
The Key in brackets, () assumes a C harp is being used.
An old man came courting me.
Both Sides Now.
Bound for the Rio Grande.
Captin Kelly's kitchen.
Dashing white sergent. (A tricky one, good practice).
Dirty old town.
Early one morninng.
Fare the well Eniskillen.
Four strong winds.
Harvest Home. (Irish jig).
Helston Fury Dance.
I hear you love a Conacht maid. (Uses bottom of harp).
I live not where I love.
I vow to thee my Country. (Holst, that bit from the Planets :-) ).
I'm a rover, seldom sober.
Lark in the clear air.
Last of the Summer Wine. (BBC T.V. theme tune, hated in Holmfirth!!).
Lesson too late for the learning.
Men of Harlech.
My name is Delany. (Oh, to be in sweet England again).
New World -Dvorjak. (Main part anyway :-) ).
Rakes of Mallow.
Shoals of Herring.
Sky boat song. (Can play in Keys C, G, and F on a C diatonic)
Speed the Plough. (Uses bottom of harp).
The Ash Grove.
The Boys of Blue Hill. (Irish jig).
The Devil among the tailors. (Another tricky one).
The Nutting girl.
The October winds lament around the Castle of Drumore.
The Parting Glass. (Start at hole 8)
The Sash my Father Wore.
The White Cockade.
The girl I left behind me.
Where have all the flowers gone?
In the bleak mid winter. (Start note, blow 8=E)
This land is your land. (C and G).
Tunes for the Am natural harp.
NOTE: The key in () is for a harp in Cm.
The major scale starts at hole 3 draw.
Nearly two octaves.
Practice playing melodies using this.
A taste of honey (Dm).
All my loving. (Eb).
Amazing Grace. (C).
And I love her. 1 bend (Fm).
As I entered Cork city.
Bridge over troubled water. 1 bend.
Come ye ow'r frae France. (Dm).
Drummer Girl (Dm) Steley Span.
Elenor Rigby. (Dm) 1 bend, play chords.
Give me that old time religion.
House of the Rising Sun. (Dm) 1st position.
I say a little prayer. (Eb).
I'm only sleeping. (Cm) (A Beatles song).
In the bleak mid winter.....(A bit easier in this harp, not as high).
John Barleycorn. (Star of the County Down).
Joshua fought the battle of Jerrico. (Dm).
Let it be. (high).
Londonderry air. 1 bend.
Lovely on the water. (Dm).
My old man said follow the van. (TRICKY). (Eb). A Good show piece!
Sky boat song.
Something in the way she moves. 1 bend.
Spanish Harlem. 1 bend.
St. James Infirmary. (Cm).
Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
Take me home country roads.
We three Kings. 1 bend (Fm).
When Johhny comes marching home again. (Dm).
Who will buy this.. (Dm) From Oliver.
So there it is. I hope it helped Steve Levine and some others too.
It should print out ok on an epson compatible printer if you want the lists.
Gordon Steel-Hand Jackson
E-MAIL me at GJackson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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