Harp Switches (Was: Re: [Harp-L] Music Writing Question)

Dave Murray wrote:
> I've never seen the Famous Norton Buffalo four harp switch thing, 
> I'd like to.

I remember seeing Norton with Bonnie Raitt on the Midnight Special 
back in the 70s doing this song.  It's funny, he talked about this 
at SPAH in Dallas in 2003.  He related the story as having harps 
stuck all over the place, in his shirt pocket, under his arm, and at 
one point dropping one of them.  I don't remember all that, but I do 
remember it looking a little like a circus clown act at the time.  

Norton related that later he had learned to stack the four harps, 
and that's how he does it now.  

I don't claim to be a proficient harp-switcher, but I do play two 
harps on a few things.  Our band does "Girl from Ipanema" (does it 
make your teeth hurt?), and it has a couple of interesting 
modulations in the bridge.  At first I used three harps to do it, 
one for the verses, and two for the bridge, but then I figured out 
how to cover the bridge modulations with one harp, with just a 
passing overblow and a passing bent note.  Now I play the song with 
two harps, and F and an F# (Paddy Richter).  "In A Sentimental Mood" 
lays out well on two harps, and I use an F# (C#) Melody Maker and a 
D (A) Melody Maker.  I also use two harps to cover the Michel 
Legrand bossa tune, "Watch What Happens".

On songs where you're improvising over changes that require harp 
switches, the challenge is always to find a place where you can 
switch smoothly and continue the musical stream of consciousness.


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