Harp positions

TO: internet:harp-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Chris Michalek gives a good account of the "natural" positions.
What might be confusing to some, however, is how he arrived at
the "first" second" and so on in naming (i.e. numbering) them.

Chris proceeded up the C major scale starting on the first degree
(C, Ionian mode), then going to the second degree (D, Ionian
mode), etc. This is how a violinist would number his positions.
However, Chris called D "third and E "fifth." What gives?

Harmonica positions (at least diatonic ones; nobody seems to have
established a common practice for chromatic) are numbered
according to the cycle of fifths.

First position is, of course, C on a C harp, as that is the blow
chord and the major scale to which the harp is tuned.

Second position is based on the draw chord, G, which is the next
obvious position. G is the fifth degree of the C major scale.

Third position is based on the D minor draw chord found a little
further up the harp. Again, D is the fifth degree when you count
up from G.

Pretty much everyone agrees on these numberings, but after that,
until recently, everybody made up their own designations
depending on which positions they considered useful.

In the last ten years, players have taken to extending the
practice of going up a fifth for the next position number. We can
go all the way around the chromatic scale this way, naming twelve

		  12th			2nd
		  F			G

	   11th				      3rd
	   Bb				      D

	10th					 4th
	Eb		     .			 A

	   8th				       5th
	   Ab				       E

		   8th			 6th
		   Db			 B

This is for a C harp. For a G harp. you'd have to rotate the
pitch band counterclockwise one position until it was under

Most of the time, you'll be likely to choose the positions
immediately to the right or left of first as being the most

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