Chromey articulation

TO: internet:harp-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Spence Pearson asks some questions about his CX-12, and
chromatics in general.


First the multiplicity of duplicated notes.

I call these choice notes, because you can choose the one best
suited to your purpose. They exist for two reasons.

The duplicated blow C's (or C#'s with the slide in) at each
octave break are to even out the blow and draw notes. The C major
scale has only seven different notes, and there are eight places
to fill, two for each hole. The draw notes take four, leaving
only three blow notes, so an extra C is added to even things out.
Otherwise, the tuning pattern would change each octave, the way
it does on the diatonic from the second octave to the third.

The slide choice notes are C and F. They exist because the slide
raises each note of the C major scale one semitone, and B#
happens to be C and E# happens to be F. This means that these
notes can be either blow or draw, which can greatly assist in
smooth phrasing.

My general rule for choosing a duplicated note (C, C#) is to use
the one closest to the note that comes *after* - this puts you
closer to your destination.

The slide choice notes are more complex. If the notes both
preceding and following a C or F are both draw, make the choice
note a draw note. If the choice note is surrounded by blow notes,
make it a blow note. This much is obvious.

But what if the choice note is in between a blow and a draw note?
Then the choice depends on rhythmic context - where the notes
fall in relation to the beat. Let's say we have a note sequence
      Eb - F - G

Eb is draw, G is blow. If Eb falls on the beat, and F is in the
same beat, then phrase the F as a draw note, together with Eb.
But let's say Eb falls before the beat, with F on the beat, and G
following in the same beat, phrase the F as blow (with the slide
in), with the following G.

There are plenty of exceptions to this guideline. Such as jazz,
which often phrases the beat with thelast part of the *preceding*
beat, note pickups and so on. In these cases, you'd want to
reverse what I wrote above re slide choice notes. Check the
performance practices for the style(s) you're playing, and phrase

AS far as gaining consistency, try applying the rhythmic context
rule to your regular scale and arpeggio practice. Write out the
scales and note the places where you should use one version or
another of a note, then learn them by heart (I have series like
this for major scales for $10 if you're interested). Then apply
them to your repertoire.


As far as articulation goes, am I reading you correctly in taking
it that you're tongue blocking despite yourself? If so, it's the
first time I've ever heard of anyone saying that tongue blocking
made the blow and draw notes more distinct from each other. Most
people find that it smooths out the differences.

As far as articulating, i.e., separating each note into a
distinct *article* by tongueing or other means, yes, tongue
blocking does make it more difficult, but I've heard Robert
Bonfiglio play a rapid-fire, very dry staccato while tongue
blocking, so I know it can be done. Just takes more work. It can
be done by closing the aperture between the tongue and the lip
corner - using the tongue - or by saying K-K-K with the
upper tongue, which should be left free by the tongue block. A
glottal stop can also be used (like a coughing sound, or the
sound kids make to imitate a machine gun).

Why the draw notes should be easier to articulate than the blow
is unknown to me. Perhaps you could provide more detail.


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