OVERBLOWING-"the 8-track of techniques"-NOT!!!!!!

In a previous post, I used the term "full control" with respect to ordinary
blow and draw bends.  Mike Curtis, while generally commenting favorably on
my post, found that term "relatively meaningless."  Richard Hunter leapt to
my defense, but I think Richard came down too hard on Ironman Mike (and now
I see that Richard has apologized for the tone of his post).  Mike's comment
has some merit.

So, for "full control," please substitute "good control."  What is good
control of bends?  I suppose this gets in to subjective territory, but to
me, these are the elements:

1.  Correct intonation without sliding to the final pitch unless this is
what you intend;
2.  A full and pleasing tone unless you intend otherwise; and
3.  A clean articulation unless you intend otherwise.

Good control is not perfect control.  That does not exist.  But good control
does mean that clams, notes that sound obviously wrong, will be rare.

There is a fourth element, but it presents a chicken-and-egg problem.
Musicians who are nervous and uncertain about their intonation,
articulation, or other aspects of their playing are not as much fun to
listen to as musicians who play with confidence.  Confidence is important,
and it comes from practice.  But is confidence an element of control or the
result of having achieved it? Don't assume the glib answer.  If I have
achieved a certain degree of control over a given note, I can approach it
with confidence, but I also believe that if I approach a note with real
confidence instead of apprehension or uncertainty, it actually enhances my
control of the note.  Your experience may differ, but I doubt it.

Randy Singer's comments are right on.  Playing any instrument chromatically
in a musically effective way requires a certain mental approach and a
certain knowledge of how music works.  Randy said it much better, so I'll
stop here.

I also think jazzman's post about how the XB-40 is most likely to be used is
right on.  He makes a point similar to mine, but with greater concision:

>In my opinion the strength of the XB-40 doesn't lie in its theoretical
ability to be played chromatically. No, the forte of the XB-40
>lies in the added expressiveness it gives to diatonic notes which had
previously lacked much personality due to their >unbendability....

>I'm sure that many players will also attempt to play the beast as a
chromatic instrument. Some will succeed through stubborn >perseverance and
dedication, most will give up when they discover that blow bending the low
holes or draw bending the
>high holes with precision takes more skill than they anticipated.

Yes, yes, and yes.  But, to paraphrase what I said earlier, Prove us wrong!
I am less in agreement with the following portion of jazzman's post:

>That said, I will give the edge to the XB-40 vs. overblowing. Mastering
those XB-40 bends may not be easy, but at least they won't >have a slight
delay before they "pop out", they won't require re-gapping your harp, and
they won't require altering your playing style >to a more delicate attack.

I think the delay can be overcome with good technique and a well set up
harmonica.  Regapping might ultimately be no worse than dealing with a
physically larger instrument with windsavers and twice the number of reeds,
although I have had no experience with the XB-40, and this is just
speculation on my part.  Finally, playing softly and using resonance rather
than air pressure to produce volume is, in my opinion, always a good idea.
Wasn't Little Walter quoted as saying something like he played softly and
just "kissed the harp?"

By the way, Ironman Mike Curtis has a lot of credit in my bank now.  He has
recently written some beautiful, eloquent, generous and non-argumentative
posts about what a big tent our harmonica community is.  Room for everyone.


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