Re: [Harp-L] Harmonica tuning

Patrick Hazell wrote:
> I sometimes wonder why Hohner doesn't simply produce Marine Band 
> harps properly tuned to standard pitch and equal temperament. In 
> this day and age of people playing in multiple keys upon the same 
> diatonic, the need to give the harmonicas a tuning in Just 
> Intonation is unnecessary.

I'm surprised this comment didn't bring more of a reaction.  

With most chromatic instruments, tuning to "standard" pitch and 
equal temperament is a given.  But the harmonica is a diatonic 
instrument, one with a set of chords that's limited by the notes 
that can be played simultaneously.  In many applications, it's more 
desirable to have harmonious chords than single notes that are 
precisely on pitch with other chromatic instruments.  

While it is true that people often play "in multiple keys upon the 
same diatonic", these are usually *related* keys, keys in which the 
same relationships (3rds, 5ths, etc.) exist between adjacent -- and 
therefore simultaneously sounded -- notes.  There are very few 
people who are attempting to play in every key on a single diatonic 

Hohner does make a harmonica that's specifically tailored to the 
application you're seeking, the Golden Melody.  In addition, other 
manufacturers (Lee Oskar/Tombo, Suzuki) make primarily equally 
tempered harmonica tunings.  

As for the sharpening of the tuning above concert pitch, this 
compensates for a flattening of reed pitch that occurs when notes 
are sounded with more force.  


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