Re: [Harp-L] 4th position, a blues overview

But if you move slightly outside of blues territory, for melodic minor tunes, then there you are with the Paddy tuning: no raised 7th. (OB on 2 is kinda tough.)
  Occasionally when the mood comes over me I go for some of those Swedish/Nordic folk tunes -- melodic minor all of them. Hell to play on the diatonic: in 4th you have to triple bend 3D for the raised 7th; in 3d pos you can expect to have to lean on the 6 OB for the minor IV chord. 
  Bad all over.
  And every time I hear Toots play "Vem kan segla förutan vind" ("Who can sail without wind") on the Toots & Svend LP from the mid 70s, and hear him really ripping the blues out of that sentimental tune, one is tempted to say, "Would be absolutely great on a diatonic!" (F minor, 4th pos on an Ab) but it never really comes off, because that damned tonic note and the raised 7th are so elusive. (Toots solo, BTW, is one of the pinnacles of the history of harmonica playing. Can be found on Spotify.)
  Maybe Lee Oskar has an alternative that´s better, dunno.
Date: Sun, 2 May 2010 09:46:55 -0400 (GMT-04:00)
From: Richard Hunter <>

Thanks very much for this thoughtful discussion of the ins and outs of 4th position.  I agree that the full step bend on draw 3 is a problem, especially since the note is so important. Hard to live without the tonic note for any key...

We're talking about 4th position on a standard harp, so this is slightly off-topic, but I think it must be said: if you use a Paddy Richter-tuned harp, with the blow 3 reed tuned up a full step, the problem with the bend on draw 3 just goes away.  And as recordings by many harp players--Brendan Power comes immediately to mind--have showed, there are a lot of other cool things you can do with a Paddy Richter-tuned harp.  Third position is a whole 'nother game on a Paddy Richter harp--in third position that note is the 5th, which is as hard to live without as the tonic.  Although then you miss out on that big twisting bend that Charlie Musslewhite likes to put on the draw 3 reed in 3rd position.  You give something up for everything you get, in harps as in life.  Fortunately, it's not against the law to own two harps in the same key with different tunings...

Regards, Richard Hunter

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.