I just ordered my first chromatic, an Educator 10. I have no idea how
into learning chromatic I will become, but am very open to learning
how to at least play a song or two. Ideally, I would be able to use
it to help with brushing up on and studying music theory.
Howard Levy talks about visualizing a piano in his head when finding
notes on harmonica. I am totally guilty of only playing harmonica and
being able to ignore some of that reasoning by changing the key of
harmonica or picking a position I already know. I don't have to think
much about note names and relationships if I know scales/intervals.
Meaning, I have a deficit in knowing note names as I can just
transpose intervals and keys by switching harps. I also can, and
have, skipped learning some positions and scales because I can just
use a harp and position I already know well.
Am I way off base in thinking that learning some of these things on
chromatic can help my understanding of diatonic and music theory in
general? Like if I learn my scales in 12 keys on one chromatic and
know the note names and intervals, will that help my diatonic thinking
(sorta like how Howard thinks of a piano)?
It is ok if it won't, as I can still have fun with chromatic.
If what I am saying doesn't make sense, here is an example.
If you call out a tune that is diatonic to C, I can find the tonic of
each chord on a C harmonica. I can probably even improvise over most
changes. I can even tell you the note name of each whole. However,
if you asked me to tell you the note names on a Bb harp, I'd have no
clue. I could give you the tab of a scale, but I don't have the
relationships of the intervals down enough to calculate the note
names. Furthermore, I can only play the scales I know, I can't think
of what a new scale would look like without a reference guide.
This is frustrating when I see a guitar tab for a song and see the
note names but can't figure out how that best lays out into a
position, etc. I have to look at a chart of 12 harmonica keys and
find which harp has the right notes in a way that is easiest to play
and then I don't know what chords/double stops I can play as I don't
have the scales memorized by notes, etc.
Obviously, I could just start memorizing diatonic harp charts along
with scales by note names, but that is way boring compared to learning
that to actually play an instrument. I want to be able to think
things like, "Oh, that song is Em, C, G, D...it is diatonic to G and
the chord tones of the Em are Em, G, B and D", in keys that go beyond
a C harp.