Re: [Harp-L] smaller kit
I usually take a full set of Spiral (Circular) harps to a gig, with backups for the music
keys of C, G, D, and A. If I'm really concerned that I'll need something for a more
traditional blues sound, I'll take a complete set of Lee Oskar Major harps. I usually
don't bother, because I can play the blues using the Circular harps. The blue notes
(b3, b5, b7) are available as bent notes on the Circular. Full chords are available on
every scale degree. So, you can play any style of blues using Circular harps.
Before I get slammed for heresy, I will concede that there is one specific thing that
CANNOT be done of Circular harps: you CANNOT play octaves.The breath pattern
changes every octave, on the octave note. By its DESIGN, each note that is one
octave apart has a different breath direction. It is simply a regular pattern, that
becomes an integral part of playing without conscious thought after you play Circular
for a while. I regularly switch between octaves without thinking about it while playing.
Maybe if you're a musical genius like Howard Levy, you can figure out a way to breathe
out and in at the same time, negating that limitation, but I'm not going to spend time
trying to achieve it.
I also use the Circulars for playing any modal tune, including natural minor (Aeolian),
Mixolydian and Dorian fiddle tunes. All of the notes for all 7 modes are built-in to
the Circular harps, so there is no need for using them as special "one tune only"
I do know that the great Richard Hunter uses a wide range of tunings for achieving
his musical goals when he is recording. He is a fantastic player! However, I don't
know if he takes a full complement of his harps to a particular gig; I suspect that
he does not.
I wish Circular tuned harps had been commercially available when I started 10 years
ago AND that I had been aware of them. It is a much better design for the genres and
style of music that I play. YMMV.
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