Re: [Harp-L] Re: Wave

Good observations, Richard; I think so, probably because they concur with mine.  I find much of the contemporary trend on diatonic a little perverse. Some of it is technically incredible, but less credible musically; some of it very musical, even beautiful in conception (like the young cats under discussion) but hampered, somewhat, by the physical challenges (can I say 'shortcomings'?) of the instrument. 
Having said that, I take my hat off, and 'God bless all who sail in her'; I'm a little too old to take the voyage.
Some of us may ask:"Why not just play the chromatic?" or the sax etc. etc. 
All of us know why; the incredible thrill of 'making' the note with one's one physiology, rather that pressing a button; the 'choked diatonic' is so physical, so close, literally and figuratively, to the voice.
Who knows where it will end? In the, what? nearly 20 years that harp-l has been around, the standard of play employing the use of overbends has progressed wonderfully. 
I believe Chris Michalek had the key to some of the problems that beset the use of single reed bends; his approach to tone was like no one else. I'm really sorry he's gone; it would have just gotten better (even if he was still a big pain in the a** at times haha!)
Jason 'Icarus' Ricci certainly had (has?) something; hope we see him back on the scene before to long.
I think the Europeans are rather reclaiming the harp after years of the trophy being held by the USA. 
The Europeans have always had some difficulty with the cultural values of 'the US (just watch 'Eurovision' sometime)
They may wear ripped jeans, but always feel the urge to embroider around the edges.
OK, so now they take the 'bend', which was probably always a bit dirty for them i the blues context, and translate it into perfect sophisticated harmony.
At the risk of sounding like a stuck gramophone record, however, I simply don't understand why there are not at least a few people taking a lead from Don Les; playing in first, few bends, no overblows, and swinging like a rusty axe.
Don's style could be taken just a little further at least, made a little bluer perhaps; you could use OBs combined with Don's style, yet avoid a lot of the intonation problems. 
But then, I suspect hardly anyone has heard his great swing jazz stuff on the diatonic. Am I right? or is it just too 'mouldy fig' for the current gen? (watch out; Don did record some crap: 'The impossible dream' ? aaarrgh!!)
OK, that's all from me. Keep it all going; I dig all of it.

>>> Richard Hunter <turtlehill@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> 01/10/11 12:16 AM >>>
I checked out Konstantin's recording of "Wave" on Youtube.  Konstantin is obviously a talented musician with a lot of skill, especially considering how long he's been playing.  There's this wave of teens and early twentysomethings playing overblows with remarkable ease now; I guess the generation that's roughly Howard Levy's age had a lot more old habits to overcome to become fluent overblowers than these kids do.  The next generation of harp players is taking overblowing for granted, the way players in my generation took bending for granted, and it's taking them about as long to learn it.

One thing all these players have in common is that they haven't solved the fundamental problem that goes with chromatic playing on the diatonic: a lot of notes really stick out in terms of pitch and timbre, and not in a good way.  You can hear the player's intentions with these notes, but the laws of physics are getting in the way, and those laws dictate that two tones produced using different physical techniques will not sound the same. I'm very sensitive now to the sound of a not-quite-in-tune bend or overblow where a deep vibrato is used to mask the fundamental pitch. I heard it from Howard twenty years ago, and I'm hearing it in player after player now.  

This is a problem for me because of my expectations, I suppose.  The kids who are doing this stuff have different expectations, apparently--they don't expect all the notes to sound the same.  We'll see in the next decade or so  whether the general audience follows suit.

Regards, Richard hunter

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