Re: [Harp-L] Harmonica speed compared to other instruments

The fastest instrument I know about is the 5 -string banjo playing arpeggios in the three-finger style. Tremolo style banjo and mandolin is also very close.


-----Original Message----- From: geoff atkins
Sent: Monday, December 06, 2010 12:03 AM
To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [Harp-L] Harmonica speed compared to other instruments

For my five cents worth:
I, and many harpists I'm sure, can equal and possibly surpass The Guinness
"fastest harp player" of some while back, especially if the "piece" was on
the high end of a good C harp, a D low wouldn't react fast enough.
That is when there are no "music" stipulations, just counting the amount of
discernable notes in a time period. I use mouth and cheek muscles rather
than diaphragm, easy to maintain for 20 seconds..

Qualifiers for the instruments:
"Music" is played, being a recognizable "standard"
-Flight of the Bumble Bee?.
Notes are to be distinguishable from the preceding and following by a
measureable interruption, a chord counts as one note.
How short is a note? There needs to be enough cycles to recognize the pitch.
How long is the gap between? If the pitches are sufficiently different then
a "gap"  of zero cycles is possibly acceptable. In stringed instruments, the
previous note need not decay to "zero" oscillations before the next note
Harmonica doesn't need to play any bends or overblows. If chromatic, the
harmonica probably would beat a diatonic's speed by slide technique alone.
Mechanical "wooden" hammered piano(M) has limits of inertia and electric
pianos(E) don't usually suffer this, Counterweighted keys excepted.
Guitar would be open -tuned and chord-based formations used.
Violin: chord based, bowed not picked

My guesstimate would be:

trombone.(may depend on choice of music and extent of slide movement.?)
* similar speeds

Reasons: an electric piano has only a microswitch that needs to be activated
for a note. Ten digits are available at any time to make the selection.
An electronic piano can be made to surpass the ability of the auditory
linkages in the listener's head to discern the notes.
A fretted guitar, finger-picked with finger plectra, has the different notes
selected from 6 different strings, by 5 digits, plus hammering-on and
snapping-off, so the achievement of individual notes can be rapid.

The above is pure conjecture .

I play piano/keyboard, guitar and flute as well as both harps.
I don't play any of them for reasons of speed, in fact I think that mostly,
speed kills music. E.g. the present fashion of singers to hit half a dozen
related notes to fulfill a traditionally single note's task.

Or as a pro musician friend says "too many notes, not enough music"
Respect and regards

Geoff Atkins

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