Re: [Harp-L] Spiral tuning
- To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Spiral tuning
- From: enzyme rich <rmdc55@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2011 12:04:04 -0600
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"Spiral is how the harp should have been created in the first place."
Apparently the richter tuned harp was originally laid out to play German "um
pah pah" type folk music popular at the time. It survived in many other
types of music because it was flexible enough to be adapted but is it the
best all around harp tuning?
I find the spiral tuning more logical and allows for playing in all 7 modes
without bending and also many chords.
As it is or by making slight variations in the spiral tuning you can get the
benefits of the richter, melody maker, country tuned, natural minor, etc. I
personally think it's a better base tuning than the richter.
"But then we wouldn't have the distinctive historical catalog of American
This may be true but I wouldn't discount the spiral tuning as a blues tool -
you can still get very bluesy on a spiral harp, too:
Compare the layouts of the 2 tunings
Richter C harp:
C E G C E G C E G C
D G B D F A B D F A
Spiral D harp (according to Seydel's naming system, but, I call it a G major
D F# A C E G B D F# A
E G B D F# A C E G B
There are some important similarites since the spiral tuning probably came
after and is sort of a variation of the richter tuning.
- Both played in 2nd position (for the key of G)
- Holes 2-6, your important blues bending notes, are the same for both
except 5 draw (F#). That spiral 5 draw makes the spiral harp similar to the
Country tuned harp. You can simply bend that 5 draw down for a bluesier
sound or what I do is take the standard spiral tuning and flatten the 2
blow, 5 draw and 9 blow reeds to get the flatted 7th for playing blues and
also myxolydian tunes in 2nd position.
There are other differences and trade offs as well:
- spiral has draw bends only unless you half valve it
- you don't get the octaves you can get on a richter harp
- many chords available on the spiral
- no change in blow draw direction at hole 7 in the spiral tuning
- probably others not coming to mind at the moment
If the blues founders got a hold of a spiral tuned harp instead of the
richter they may have done the same thing more or less as they did with the
guitar, piano and other fully chromatic instruments.
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