Re: [Harp-L] Chromatic and Diatonic - Understanding Music Theory?

I have perfect pitch. I didn't have to learn note names and such. I hear all music as absolute pitches.

I play diatonic, with valves on the bendable reeds (1-6 draw and 7-10 blow). This allows me to bend the OTHER (normally unbendable) reeds. My lowly diatonic is now fully chromatic, and capable of being played in all keys - IF you know your theory!

This is where music theory and learning all the notes comes in handy. Because my ear is good (TOO good), I've always relied on it for learning songs, and my reading skills were laughable, a huge handicap in Hollywood, where good reading skills are needed for lucrative recording sessions.

So I pestered some musician friends for reading information and theory pointers. I started using charts and fake books to learn new tunes. An added bonus was that I learned these without being influenced by the record, forcing me to play them in my own unique style.

I don't need to visualize a piano. I just "know" the absolute pitches by sound.

I hope this information is helpful.


----- Original Message ----- From: "Mike Fugazzi" <mikefugazzi@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2011 8:42 AM
Subject: [Harp-L] Chromatic and Diatonic - Understanding Music Theory?

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, 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.


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