[Harp-L] What I learned at the Buckeye convention
Driving home up I-75 from Columbus to Troy, Mich (home of the SPAH postal
box) it occurred to me that I learned several things at the buckeye convention
this last weekend. Some came from seminars, others from chats with various folks
at the meet.
I've always believed that if you get one good idea from a book or video or
movie, it was worth the price of admission. I've never expected a single book or
lecture to provide me every secret for success in life -- that's an unreal
1. Throat vibrato -- It's really a combination of the coughing ack ack ack
PLUS the held bent note. I always misunderstood for years that it was somehow a
note that bent and unbent and bent and unbent to create the vibrato, not that
it was used in conjunction with the coughing sound. Bob McFarlane's seminar
"Tone (or how does he do that?) also with the help of Al & Judy Smith and others
and a bold student who volunteered to show his efforts.
2. How Band in the Box works. Danny Gajovski and Elmer Matilla provided three
seminars: Introduction to Band in a Box, BiaB 101 and BiaB 102, plus Danny
was available at the round table talks group sessions for more hands on info.
They provided a folder that included color printouts of their BiaB slideshow
demo that included the BiaB overview CD-ROM/DVD as well as a collection of midi
tunes compiled by Danny. I may actually get to investigate it now in my copious
3. Harp-L's Elizabeth told me about MAAS metal cleaner for getting the crud
off your harmonica covers (available at MAAS web site or Amazon).
4. The avuncular Jack Ely pulled off another great Buckeye Harmonica Club
fest (yeah, I know he didn't do it single-handedly -- but he is the
personification of the club)
5. PT Gazell's tone is better than ever he provided several times during the
fest. He also talked about how he uses ultrasuede (try JoAnns Fabrics and
others) for the magic ingredient that allows him to half-valve his Hohner
Meisterclass diatonics. That is put valves/windsavers on the draw reeds of 1st six
holes and blow reeds of last four reeds that allow him to play with jazz with
"chromaticity" on the diatonic single reed blow bends on low end of harp and draw
bends on top end. If you don't have his CDs, check out his web site.
6. Jimi Lee was a featured performer at the Buckeye and arrived with some
dynamite tunes and had two new CDs with him, featuring stelar performances. Jimi
Plays the stainless steel Seydel harps and retunes three top end blow reeds
like low end draw notes for what he calls "A plus" which is tough work on those
stainless reeds! Seydel offers several custom tunings and this may be one of
them someday if there is enough interest.
7. Pignose 10 watt amps make easy outboard amps for laptops (Danny G had one).
8. Korg contact mike (CM100) clamps onto your harp and makes it easier and
faster to hear pitch of harp reeds -- whether you're tuing reeds or just
searching for the right note as you play (thanks to Rupert Oysler and JT Gazell).
9. Judy Smith is now using a Suzuki chromatic that has outlasted by about a
year many of her other chromatics.
10. Al Smith, one of the last of the vaudeville performers, is playing more
XB-40 than just about anybody else: Steel Guitar Rag and short version of Wm.
Tell Overature (called the Billy Tell).
11. Jimi Lee likes to change key for every song. He performed harp with
Buckeye pickup band and closed the dinner show Saturday night with a slew of guests
with this guitar/harp rack.
12. It didn't dawn on me until it was too late to execute, but if I had
thought of it earlier I would have printed off the Harp-L information sheets and
some SPAH info sheets on the computers that were in the hotel business service
area. Several of the people at my dinner table Saturday night had never heard
13. I did have enough foresight to grab a handful of Rupbert Oysler's Seydel
business cards with Circle of Fifths and related minors (courtesy of Rupert)
for Jimi Lee's seminar on jazz just as Jimi was talking about about the Circle
of Fifths and getting some blank stares.
14. Also learned listening to performances with Band in a Box backing and
synth backing that the best backgrounds are those that do not provide
accompaniment in the same sound range as the harp: acoustic guitar sounds great as
backing. Synth strings and synth reeds make it hard to tell where the harp ends and
the backing music starts.
15. And nothing beats a live band like Carolbeth True's.
16. And if you're still confused about how modes and keys and scales and
pentatonic and blues scales fit together -- check out the ($7.95) Mel Bay "C_
Harmonica book : Complete 10-Hole Diatonic Harmonica Series_
&head1=&head2=Harmonica&sub=1&sub1=&mode=browse) " which comes in all keys.
It shows notes and positions in harmonica tab and how they relate to piano
keyboard and guitar fretboard in nice graphic illustrations. If you're clever,
you can transpose the "C" book into all the other keys. If it seems confusing,
get a book for each key you like and it's all explained for you.
See ya at the next Buckeye,
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