David Barrett's Chromatic Blues book

David Barrett says:
> A friend forwarded your comments (digest version) on the book.
> All good thoughts.  I just wanted to drop a line on some of your
> questions/observations.  Please post this to the list as well if
> you don't mind.

Scorcher interrupts:
I'm surprised you received a digest referencing your book by name. My
intention was to post with all the references to your company and you
expunged. I didn't feel it would be fair to "critique" the work of a
well-known and respected professional such as yourself, since I'm just a
hobbyist - hardly qualified. I apologize if a critical discussion
referencing your work by name was posted (accidentally) before consulting
you directly. That was not my intention.

BTW, thanks very much for the personal response. It shows a level of concern
about "the final product" one does not often see today. I appreciate your
courtesy. Per your request, I'm forwarding this message to Harp-L as well as
to your return address. -Scorcher

> Mr. Barrett continues:
> The book's intent is to get diatonic players who have not played
> the chromatic to start playing the chromatic with as little
> difficulty as possible.  Since the book is a basic book, I only
> cover 3rd Position playing, of which is the most common blues position.
> I think 1st and 2nd Position are killer, but that would be a
> candidate for book #2.  If there is to be a book #2 (if Mel Bay
> feels sales a good enough on this one) it would need to be
> authored from someone other than myself.  I am really a diatonic
> player who plays some 3rd position chromatic harmonica.  As for
> artists to study, a guy right from the top of my head that does
> killer position playing on the chromatic is Mark Hummel.  Check
> out his Harmonica Party album on MountainTop label.  The first
> cut he's doing some great 1st Position work.  He played in 1st
> and 2nd a lot the times I've played with him.  Paul deLay is also
> a great chromatic player worth checking out for his position
> usage.  Winslow's texts are also spot on for stretching your skills.
> The tilted embouchure has to do with getting more harmonica in
> your mouth to access the wider part of your tongue (as well as
> better tone from a larger cavity) to cover, in some cases, up to
> five holes on the chromatic.  Many players play this way, many
> don't... it's just something to try.  I have found most students
> to be successful with this way of playing.  Playing with the
> under side of the tongue is rare, but not bad.  I believe Gary
> Primich told me he plays that way.
> Regarding cupping.  For diatonic work, you're absolutely correct
> about an airtight cup.  For the chromatic, as Winslow states,
> it's a different story.  I've played and worked with many great
> blues chromatic players on stage and they all hold the chro that
> way and get killer tone because their embouchure is open and
> their tone is strong.  Many players play the 12 hole model so
> that cupping is even tighter, and the cup does change a bit for
> the smaller chromatics.  If you can get the whole chro in your
> cup that's killer, I bet it sounds great.
> As for the thumb on the button... I should have talked about the
> finger as well.  A mistake on my part for not researching that
> more at the time.  That's my ignorance for not checking with more
> players to see what they use. Since most players play in 3rd, the
> button isn't used much, so its use technique is very much
> secondary for many players.  I know many players that use the
> thumb, but for someone who plays well and uses the button often,
> I would agree that the finger makes much more sense.
> Anyways, that's my two cents.  I would love to see something
> release that goes further than this book does.  If I am correct,
> there are no books on the blues chromatic besides this.  I hope
> this book has helped a couple people make their first step
> towards the chro.
> Best Regards,
> David Barrett
> President, Harmonica Masterclass Company
> "Leader in Blues Harmonica Education"
> www.harmonicamasterclass.com
> Founder/Director, School of the Blues
> www.schooloftheblues.com
> Author, Mel Bay Publications & Blues Revue Magazine
> http://www.harmonicamasterclass.com/books.htm &
877-427-7252 - PO Box 1723, Morgan Hill, CA 95038

Scorcher continues:
For the record, I'll be using this book (along with other resources) in my
Chromatic blues study.
It's well put together and useful, as far as it goes. My expectations may
have not been reasonable, given the book's title, and the posted

As to my comments about cupping technique: My personal preferences are
unique, apparently, in terms of what I'm willing to accept as "an airtight"
cup, and certainly are based on what I'm accustomed to doing with a
diatonic. I believe that players of the "big" (16-hole) chromatic have
"accepted the limitations" of the instrument ONLY because there have been no
clearly superior, commercially available alternatives. I also think that
many chromatic blues players have either a watered down, muddy, overly
distorted or over-processed sound, as a result of the combination of their
weak cupping technique and trying to remedy the inherent problems with mic,
amp & effects.

My two cents.
- -Scorcher

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