In modern Western music there is an intrinsic difficulty if not
impossibility, in
reconciling a tuning to both harmony and melody.  Simply put, the closer the
notes are to the normal tuning found on keyboards and quartz tuners, known
as Equal Temperment, the rougher the chords will sound; likewise, the more
pure the chords, the stranger the melody will appear to our ears.  Chromatic
harmonicas are usually tuned to Equal Temperment, which compromises har-
monious chords in order to perform equally well in every key.  Diatonic
are not required to perform in all keys so one has the opportunity to better
monize the chords. 

Marine Band style harps were originally tuned to Just Intonation, where the
Major chords were absolutely pure.  This worked well for the instrument when
played as it usually was- solo or in concert only with other harmonicas.  The
Tonic, or blow chords, and the Dominant and Dominant 7th chords (1-4 draw
and 1-5 draw respectively) sounded wonderful, and the ear would quickly
to the difference in melody as it was based on pure intervals anyway.
arose when these models were called upon more and more to play and be in 
tune with other types of instruments, so gradually the tuning drifted closer
Equal Temperment.  Finally, a point was reached when the Marine Band was so
close to Equal Temperment that complaints started coming in that the chords
sounded out of tune and that it was even beginning to affect the playing
style of
blues players.  The note of the fifth hole draw has by far the greatest
between Equal and Just tuning, and it was noticed that blues players were
inclined to play long, soulful notes on that hole than in earlier times, when
instrument was closer to Just Intonation.  The arrival of the MS series
offered the opportunity of a solution to the problem. 

The Marine Band and Special 20 are the models favored by the more traditional

players, blues or otherwise, who are likely to prefer a tuning closer to Just
ation, especially on the 5 draw note.  These two models, therefore, have
been brought back closer to the original tuning, while still maintaining a
compromise allowing them to fit in with other instruments.  The MS models are
tuned as the Marine Band was up to recently,  a little closer to Equal
ment in general, but with the distinction that the 5 and 9 draw are tuned
well up,
where they will sound right with other instruments, especially in the
chord in 1st position (5-6 draw).

The following charts are given showing the relative pitch of each note in the
ard Marine Band, or Richter, tuning.  The tunings are expressed in cents, the
used with most quartz or strobe tuners, and show the variance from Equal
ment.  This variance is the same regardless of which key the instrument is
to or how close to A-440 it is pitched. 

Original Just Intonation
Hole        1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8       9
Blow        0     -14    +2       0     -14    +2       0     -14     +2
Draw      +4     +2    -12     +4     -27    +6     -12    +4     -27     +6

Marine Band l896, Special 20
Hole        1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8       9
Blow        0     -12    +1       0     -12    +1       0     -12     +1
Draw      +2    +1     -11     +2     -12    +3     -11    +2     -12     +3

MS Series 
Hole        1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8       9
Blow        0     -10    +1       0     -10     +1      0     -10     +1
Draw      +2     +1      -9     +2     +3     +3      -9     +2     +3     +3

The  Golden Melody Model 542 is tuned to Equal Temperament.

Hohner diatonics are tuned to A-442 at moderate volume so that they should
drop below A-440 at full volume.  All tunings represent compromises, so
into tuning their harps may wish to experiment in finding one to suit their
needs best.  I use an English concertina to accompany some of my playing and
have developed a tuning for this combination based on Meantone Temperament,
another system which utilizes pure Major thirds.  I play more in the sharp
so I centered this tuning at D.  By placing the thirds halfway between Equal
pure, the concertina is in good tune with other instruments, at least in the
keys, and produces pleasing chords.  Note that the English concertina has
for 14 different notes in an octave:

  Ab         Eb        Bb          F          C          G           D    
+11.5     +9.6     +7.6       +5.7      +3.8      +1.9         0

   A           E          B          F#        C#        G#          D#   
  -2          -3.9       -5.8      -7.7       -9.6      -11.6       -13.5

This article is becoming long-winded so I'll leave the topic of tools and 
techniques of tuning for later.  Let me just say in response to a question
regarding a note that went flat and would not stay up in pitch after being
retuned,  that when a reed goes drastically flat, a quarter-tone or more,
it has likely developed an internal crack and will not stand up to playing.
The harmonica should at this point be repaired or replaced.


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