[Harp-L] Re: positions you can use on diatonic

JersiMuse inadvertently highlighted the essence of positions when he wrote:


".if positions are related to modes, then the whole system doesn't
work. But if positions are not related to modes, and only give the root
to the harp used, then, what is their utility?"


That's got it right there: that IS their utility! What does "Position" mean?
It means a place, a place related to other places. In harmonica terms, it's
a hole/breath/bend place on the harp. Jersi highlighted its function: the
word "Position" should only refer to the root note's place, or position, on
the harp - not the name of the note, or the mode or scale that starts there.


Take Third Position, as this seems the most contentious. The root notes of
Third Position are found on holes 1, 4 and 8 draw, no matter what harmonica
you use. We all agree on that! If that happens to be the key note of the
song you're playing, you can say you're playing the song in Third Position.


HOWEVER, what scale or mode of Third Position you use depends on what's
appropriate for the music you're playing. Commonly Third is played as a
minor scale, because that's what lays easiest. But you can play Third as a
major, and there are well over a hundred other scales you could use in that
position if you have the interest and technique to do so. Some will lay
easier than others.


So it's up to the player to say what Third Position mode they're using. "I'm
in Third Position Major/Minor/Wholetone/Raag Bhairav.." Or whatever. 


The confusion has arisen because the names Second, Third, Fourth etc relate
to the home key of the harp, called First Position by harp players. Other
scales starting on different root notes (if played with unaltered notes on
the harp) can be given modal names (Mixolydian, Dorian, Aeolian etc). But
that only gives you seven modes (or 'natural' positions). As soon as you
introduce chromaticism through bending/overblowing the whole system needs to
be refined. 


But this is relatively new. For a long time positions like Third, Fourth,
Fifth were ONLY played as minor keys, and others (eg. First) only as major
keys. That meant the scale used got identified with the position of its root
note - hence the confusion!


With advances in technique that's changing, and many players are now able to
play other scales within the same position. So now (in addition to the key
of the harp) both the position and scale used need to be stated if someone
asks what you are doing.


However the concept of position as a PLACE on the harp named after the
circle of fifths derived from First Position is still useful. For example, 3
draw semitone-bend is the starting note for Eleventh Position. That's a
useful notion for the player and anyone he's talking to, because it
describes its root position on the harp. But it has nothing to do with the
name of the note found there is or the scale used: those depend on the harp
used and the discretion of the player in relation to the music being played.


Brendan Power

WEBSITE: www.brendan-power.com <http://www.brendan-power.com/> 

YOUTUBE: www.youtube.com/BrendanPowerMusic


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