Re: Favorite harps

On Fri, 1 Jul 1994 grantd@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

> Chris Michalek said...
> > ...
> > Certain country and folk tunes I'll use a high F harp in C to get a particular
> > sound, but even then I usually opt for my G harp and play in twelfth
> > position....
> This was a new one on me. I've heard of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions on the
> harp, but 12th? Is that just playing the thing upside-down or what?
> (I am interested actually: Which holes, what order?)
12th position is where the five hole draw is the tonic note.

This would be F on a C harp.  The IV goes the 6th hole overblow(Bb) and the V
becomes the 4th hole blow(C).  This position is great for jazz, country
and blues.  Actually all positions are generally pretty good for
everything it's all a matter of what you want to do with it.  Sure some
work better because they tend to have a particular sound about them,  but
like I said before they work for anything, if you put your mind to it.

A little bit about positions:

These are things that I picked up from going to SPAH and hanging around
other guys.

There are seven natural positions or modes.  All this is explained in
Howard Levy's video and one of the HIPs.

The first mode that is naturally found on the harp is the IONIAN or Major
scale mode. C on a C harp.  This is first position. Looking at a piano
keyboard you will find that it goes from C to C.  No sharps or flats.  A
lot of classical, folk and country tunes are played in this position.

The next one is D to D.  3rd position or Dorian mode. D on a C harp. This
has a flatted 3rd and 7th.  This is the position that all the old blues
chromatic guys used.  I think most harp players use this one when they
have to play in a minor key.  Great for minor melodies and blues in general.
Check out Sugar Blue's playing.  Most of it is in 3rd position.
I=4draw IV=6blow V=6draw

The PHRYGIAN mode is what most people call 5th postion. This is E on a C
harp. This has a spanish or Mid east sound to it.  This position has a
very dark minor sound to it.  When I play the Thrill is Gone I often use
this postion because I think it sounds cool.  As so far as playing goes
this position is very much like cross harp.  most of the same licks will
work but just remember to resolve all your lines to the 2,5or8 blow. Roland
Van Stratten uses this position quite a bit.
 I=2blow IV=6draw V=3 or 7 draw. 

Next is the MIXOLYDIAN mode. 2nd position or Cross harp.  This is the
position that most blues players use.  This postion is perfect for blues
and country because of the flatted 7th. This is the key of G on a C harp.
I=2draw IV=4blow V=4draw.

Now we come to the LYDIAN position.  This is Twelfth position.  F on a C harp.
This key is great for everthing.  Blues, jazz, country,  indian music, 
everything.  This one of Howard Levy's favorite keys,  and this is one
reason why he sounds the way he does.  This position is very simular to
third in the sense of how it feels.  So if you already play 3rd try this
one.  Just start on the draw five instead of four.   If you can't overblow
the IV can begotten else where such as the 3 hole bent 1/2 step down or
the ten blow bent a whole step down. For blues the flatted 7th can be found
with the 8 blow bend or the 4th hole overblow.  And the flatted 3rd is 
found by bending the 6 draw down a 1/2 step or the 2 draw 1 1/2 steps
down.  Like I said before just like third position,  just remember where
to resolve your lines. The way I learned this position is by play a cross
harp lick with my Bb harp and trying to play the same thing on the C.
 I=5 draw (IV=6ob) V=4blow  the 4th does not occur naturally.

AEOLIAN or fourth position comes after the the lydian mode. A on a C
harp Again this is good for minor melodies and I think Howard used a
Japanese song to demonstrate this mode on the video.  This mode is also
good for blues and jazz as well as other stuff.  This one is related to 1st
position just as 3rd is to 12th and 5th is to 2nd. Again listen to Levy or
Roland Van Stratten
 I=6draw IV=3draw V=5blow

The last mode is the LOCRIAN mode.  This is the key of B on a C harp. this
mode is used very little because it has no natural 5th.  Levy demonstrates
this mode using blues licks and avoiding the V. I think it has a very
eastern sound to it.
I=3draw IV=5blow (V=5ob)  No natural 5th.

Well these are the natural position on the harp.  Sorry if I didn't come
across too well.  As you can tell I got tired of writing this as  I went
on.  Please accept my crudeness and inaccuracies.  Winslow will know more
about this than me.  Also refer to Steve Bakers book.

-Chris Michalek

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