Re: Song Keys; What's this Harp?

> >> of harps until I played blues in the key of E, on an A harp (crossharp), and
> >> then a G (4th position), C (5th), and D (3rd) as well.

oops - I really should pay closer attention, especially when I'm half
nodding off late after a gig and an hour drive home |-O

> and I'm fully aware that postions 7 thru 11 are exotic, in the respect that 
> their tonic notes don't actually exist on a diatonic harp and have to be 
> produced by either bends or overblows...and therefore have no related mode 
> in diatonic theory, which I have mentioned on this list before.  I 
> personally feel that these are not "true" positions, although Howard Levy's 
> virtuosity forces me to concede that they "truly" exist.

Just because the tonic isn't there without bending doesn't mean all that
much. In fact, anyone who fluently cross-harps can _easily_ play in 11th
position.  We usually bend the 3rd to a minor third (Bb on a C harp), so the
only note needed to play a standard major Bb scale is Eb.  Using just the Bb
note and the stock "E" raised 4th, we have a very useful lydian scale.

It's only a slight stretch from Bb scale (specifically an Ab :-) into the
key of Eb.  Even on a stock harp using stock bends, these notes are
available in certain spots (Eb=8 blow bend, Bb= 3 draw bend and 10 blow
bend, etc.) But if you're taking a solo and don't mind workarounds, you can
simply use the available notes and skip over the missing ones.  In fact,
some of the "bad" notes can be used very effectively as passing tones.  The
better blues players make extensive use of passing tones, as do all jazz

Passing tones are notes that don't "belong" in a scale, such as a flatted
fifth (Gb in the key of C), but can be played as long as you change to a
note that belongs (such as a 4th or 5th; F or G in the example given.)

 -- mike

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