Re: High notes

HI Vern,

Interesting post. I suspect that you are scientifically accurate here. I
think my reference to "air direction" comes from my thinking/visualization
to control/co-ordinate the oropharyngeal relationships that affect pitch and
response in reeds. I tend to "see" what is happening as air direction at the
reed, since results occur at the reed.

The configuration and movement of the lips, tongue, cheeks, throat- probably
the whole vocal tract and breathing mechanism affects the response and pitch
of the reed. About 25% of the beginners I have taught will automatically
bend the 2 draw on a C diatonic harp lower than a full step when they first
try to play it. Through coaching/coaxing most can learn very quickly to
release the stuff they are doing internally to let the note sound naturally,
a few have long struggle with this. All of them think there is something
wrong with their harmonica when they first start. Give them an A harp and
there's less problems, an F harp and problems increase. Usually with the
higher harps the result is "stopped out" reeds or no sound at all. Higher
reeds require "more lessening" of any interference in the vocal tract. When
you combine higher reeds (stiffer, shorter) with the particular
mouthpiece/cover shape and the distance from the mouth that the CX12 has,
problems greatly increase.

I was trying to help John get those high notes, and that air direction
visualization thought has helped people, though maybe it isn't an accurate
representation of what's really happening. I find the high notes on the CX12
to be very different than a 270 (or any other harp) and even if they are
properly adjusted I can easily "stop them out" so they don't play at all, or
so that they "seem" to require much more wind to play (because pressure and
oropharyngeal configurations are interactive- so if you're moving internally
in a way that will stop the note out, it is possible to overcome it with
increased pressure and get the reed to sound).

Anyway, did it help at all John?

Rupert Oysler

- ----- Original Message -----
From: "Vern Smith" <jevern@xxxxxxx>
To: <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, January 10, 2003 1:55 PM
Subject: Re: High notes

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Rupert Oysler" <orupert@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> .
> > The high notes on the CX-12 can be tricky not only because of
> > gapping/set-up.  I think it has a lot do with embouchure, air direction,
> and...........
> I posit that air direction has nothing to do with making high reeds sound.
> On draw notes, the player has no way to control the direction of air
> approaching the reed from outside the reedplates.
> Even on blow notes, there is little the player can do to control
> Because the blow-reed rivets are near the mouthpiece, the place where the
> air acts on the reed is at the far end of the chamber and any uneven
> velocity distribution applied by the player has plenty of distance in
> to dissipate. Then, the air flow must make a 90 degree turn to pass
> the reed slot. At the very low pressure ratios found in the harp (approx
> 1.01), the pressures/forces acting on the reed in and out of a jet of air
> are not very different.
> At these high frequencies, the wavelengths become short enough for the
> embouchure+chamber to have resonant air columns. Therefore embouchure can
> have effect.
>  At high pitches, the reed is very short & stiff and the amplitude of
> vibration and the gap are very small. Gapping is critical. The range of
> just-right gap is also very small...a bit too little and the reed chokes,
> bit too much and it doesn't start.
> IMO the "attack"  (the pressure applied as a function of time.) can have
> effect.
> However, I just picked up my Farrell/Hohner 270 & CX12 and was unable to
> make any high notes fail by deliberately applying unusual embouchures and
> attacks.  I think that this brings us back to gapping!  Embouchure and
> attack can coax a marginally gapped reed to sound but if the gap is
> these effects are much less important.
> Disclaimer: The above are my opinions based on my analysis and are offered
> for your consideration.  I don't claim to have the last word on high
> Vern
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