Re: [Harp-L] Bluegrass Chromatic Harmonica

Actually I mean standard, standard notation.... notes on staff paper... Every Good Boy Does Fine, but he's gotta wash his FACE, that sort of thing. Sheet music might be what I should have said.

Dave Payne Sr. 
Elk River Harmonicas

----- Original Message ----
From: David & Jackie Naiditch <french10@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: Harp L Harp L <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, November 9, 2008 12:28:18 PM
Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Bluegrass Chromatic Harmonica

Dave Payne,

By "standard notation" I assume you mean standard harmonica  
notation.  I'm not a good person to ask because I never use harmonica  

Although I haven't examined them, I am aware of 2 bluegrass harmonica  
instruction books:

"Bluegrass Harmonica" by Mike Stevens


"Bluegrass & Country Music for Harmonica" (Mel Bay)

Mike is a fine bluegrass diatonic player.  It would be unlikely,  
however, that either of these books contain transcriptions of Bill  
Monroe's mandolin playing.

David Naiditch

On Nov 8, 2008, at 7:55 AM, David Payne wrote:

> David,
> Maybe you can help me on this. I can't find any Bill Monroe in  
> standard notation, I'd like to play stuff like Bluegrass Stomp and  
> Bluegrass Breakdown note for note. The only thing that seems to be  
> out there is mandolin tab and heck, I can't even play mandolin tab  
> on the mandolin, I need standard notation there, too. Right now,  
> I'm figuring out stuff on the mandolin by ear, then playing it on  
> the chrom. That is a very slow process.I need to get some notation.
> You would not believe how long I've been working on that opening  
> riff Monroe does on Muleskinner Blues. That is a hard one to figure  
> out. Notation would make that a heck of a lot easier.
> Dave
> ___________________________
> Dave Payne Sr.
> Elk River Harmonicas
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: David & Jackie Naiditch <french10@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: winslowyerxa@xxxxxxxxx; harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Friday, November 7, 2008 4:49:38 PM
> Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Bluegrass Chromatic Harmonica
> Winslow,
>  I started off playing chromatics in different keys, but fell into a
> rut.  My improvised lines starting sounding too similar.  A jazz
> musician friend urged me to force myself to play every tune on a C
> chromatic, regardless of the key.  This was the best advice I ever
> received.
> It was very challenging at first, and I had to practice scales in
> various keys.  Eventually, however, I learned that each key has its
> own strengths and weaknesses; each key suggests different riffs as
> being more natural than others.  Then I learned to “cross-pollinate”--
> translating what I learned in one key to others, making a few natural
> modifications.  As a result of playing all keys on a C chromatic, my
> improvising became far more interesting, and my musical vocabulary
> greatly expanded.  Don’t know if this approach will work for
> everyone, but it sure worked for me.
> Today, I rarely switch chromatics and often attend jams with only a C
> chromatic.  The only time I consider switching to other keys this is
> when I’m trying to play the head to a tune that is played very fast
> and in an awkward key.  The bluegrass tune, Rebecca, for instance, is
> usually played in the key of B and is typically played ridiculously
> fast.  Unless I’ve just consumed a Doppio Macchito, I’ll switch to a
> B chromatic.
> Best regards,
> David Naiditch,
> On Nov 7, 2008, at 12:10 PM, Winslow Yerxa wrote:
>> David -
>> Glad you've joined us. It's great to have another trad-oriented
>> harmonica player with a unique approach on the list.
>> Jimmy Riddle didn't always play a C chromatic. He had 12-hole
>> chromatics in several keys, allowing him to use, say, an A
>> chromatic to play in Bb. And sometimes he played in the slide-out
>> home key. It didn't hurt that he could record with some heavy
>> Nashville session cats who could play in any key he wanted.
>> Of course string-friendly (and bluegrass) keys tend to be the open
>> strings on fiddles, guitars, etc - G, D, A, maybe E. On a C
>> chromatic, these keys have major scales that require a lot of
>> breath changes and can't take advantage of the alternate slide-in
>> Draw C and Blow F. Keys like F, Bb, Eb, and Ab all use C and F and
>> can be played more smoothly - with fewer breath changes and more
>> neighboring-note ornaments (because the neighboring notes are on
>> the same breath and you can move between them smoothly). But, as
>> you note, such keys don't find much favor in bluegrass circles.
>> So let's say you're playing in string-friendly keys and are not
>> particularly interested on chordal playing (like that of Riddle, or
>> of David Payne, whose efforts started this discussion). Melodic
>> flexibility and neighboring-note ornaments may still be of
>> interest, and using chromatics in keys other than C can help here.
>> Irish accordionists figured this out several dacades ago, and I
>> stumbled on it myself early in my investigation of traditional
>> music. They often play  instruments with one row of melody buttons
>> tuned like a B harmonica and the other like a C harmonica. On such
>> a B/C instrument, G plays like Ab, D plays like Eb, and A plays
>> like Bb. These scales require fewer changes of air direction and
>> offer more neighboring notes in the scale (and therefore ornaments)
>> in the same air direction.When I made myself a B chromatic, I
>> retuned an E chromatic (which is pitched lower than a three-octave
>> C chromatic) so that I could cover notes all the way to (and
>> slightly below) the bottom end of a fiddle.
>> Simiilarly, Don Wessels plays Scottish music on an F# chromatic
>> (which he bought stock from Richard Farrell, who used to offer them
>> for Irish music). On an F# instrument, G plays like Db, D like Ab,
>> A like Eb, and E like Bb. Don has a nice CD out; you can hear
>> samples at CDBaby.
>> Of course, most keys of chromatic come only in a three-octave
>> range, which can be limiting. Four-octave instruments, on the other
>> hand, come only in C. However, you can always re-tune . . .
>> Winslow
>> Winslow Yerxa
>> Author, Harmonica For Dummies ISBN 978-0-470-33729-5
>> --- On Fri, 11/7/08, David & Jackie Naiditch <french10@xxxxxxxxxxx>
>> wrote:
>> From: David & Jackie Naiditch <french10@xxxxxxxxxxx>
>> Subject: [Harp-L] Bluegrass Chromatic Harmonica
>> To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
>> Date: Friday, November 7, 2008, 11:03 AM
>> Mark Panfil, Tony Eyers, Richard Hunter, Bob Loomis, Winslow Yerxa,
>> Michael
>> Polesky,...
>>  Sorry it took me so long to respond to the bluegrass chromatic
>> harmonica
>> message thread of October 27, 2008.  (I joined Harp-L after this
>> thread was
>> created, and it was Michael Polesky who pointed the thread out to
>> me.)  I really
>> appreciate the kind words from all of you harmonica greats about my
>> bluegrass
>> chromatic playing on my new CD, the “High Desert Bluegrass
>> Sessions.”  I’m
>> pleased
>>  that you agree that the chromatic harmonica can sound good in
>> bluegrass.
>>  As you know, the harmonica isn’t commonly played in bluegrass, and
>> the
>> chromatic is extremely rare.  I hope this changes.  My next CD will
>> probably be
>> gypsy jazz, another genre where harmonica is rarely used (but where
>> accordions
>> are established).
>>  Winslow,
>> Like you, the late David McKelvy reminded me of Jimmy Riddle’s
>> bluegrass
>> harmonica playing.  I heard Jimmy’s record many years ago.  The
>> only tune I
>> can remember is “Stony Point” where, as you mentioned, he used the
>> slide-in
>> blow chord, thus playing in Db on a C chromatic.  As you point out,
>> my approach
>> is very different, partly as a result of all the jamming I do with
>> musicians who
>> aren't harmonica players.  Bluegrass musicians, who tend to be  
>> wary of
>> harmonica players, wouldn’t take kindly to a harmonica player
>> requesting that
>> they get out of their standard key and
>>  play in some weird key like Db!  And
>> thanks for noticing the jazz-sensitive tones that I sometimes throw
>> in.  This
>> jazzy approach to bluegrass came from listing to folks like Jethro
>> Burns and Pat
>> Cloud.
>> Bob,
>> Yes, Pat Cloud is “a banjo god,” and I’m really fortunate to be his
>> friend and have him record with me.  He has taught me a great deal
>> about
>> bluegrass as well as jazz.
>> Best regards,
>> David Naiditch
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