Oh, THAT 5th position...

Last night I was noodling around on a Melody Maker tuned harp in G 
(based on a C major Richter, yadda yadda), playing "Have Yourself a 
Merry Little Christmas" and "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting 
on an Open Fire)".  And I start thinking, okay, the Melody Maker 
tuning allows a 2nd position major scale without bends, which in this 
case is G, so it seems logical that I could play the relative minor 
as well (same scale notes).  So I head back to the keyboard, pick out 
the G major scale (G A B C D E F# G), then shift it up a fifth to put 
the tonic on the E to get the relative minor.  The E also happens to 
be the 3rd note of the C major scale (remember, this harp is based on 
a C diatonic), which is the 2 blow on this harp.  So by shifting the 
tonic from the 2 draw to the 2 blow (and getting the low F# with a 2 
draw bend), I'm playing 5th position.  The upper F# is the 5 draw 
tuned up, so it's all right there!  

I had to go back to my circle of fifths chart to confirm that I was 
playing in 5th position (C -> G -> D -> A -> E), although that claim 
gets a little specious on a harp that's been tuned to play in 2nd 
position (one might argue -- as Lee Oskar does -- that the G is first 
position on this harp).  

It's not too hard to transpose this to a normally tuned diatonic, but 
you have to remember about that 5OB to get the upper F# in the 
scale.  Still, if you have a Melody Maker or country tuned harp and 
are relatively comfortable moving around on it, you should be able to 
get 5th position pretty easily.  I found I could pick out my minor 
Christmas tunes (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, We Three Kings, What 
Child Is This) on the same harp, and even to do some improving in E 

Happy hunting!

- -tim (old dog/new trick)

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