Re: [Harp-L] Choice of keys on chromatic harmonica

On Mar 14, 2012, at 3:20 PM, Norman Vickers wrote:

> To:  Harp-l list
> From: Norman Vickers, Jazz Society of Pensacola
> Winslow Yerxa wrote re Toots Thielemans' preference for C Chromatic:
> From: Winslow Yerxa <winslowyerxa@xxxxxxxxx>
> Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Toots preference for Eb & Bb
>> Earlier in his career, he did sometimes play chromatics in other keys,
> mostly to take advantage of Db position (8th position) in other >keys, such
> as when he recorded East of the Sun in Ab using a G chromatic. After about
> 1960, though, he decided to stick with the C >chromatic.
> Agree.  I did a week's workshop with Cham Ber Huang in Kansas City in 1979.
> I was playing various chromatics, depending on the key the song was in.

A-ha, I understand, and a lot of people do that. That's not what I do. I use whatever will get me DRAW notes. That I can slur with.
Not only that, but there are places where one can use chips, chirps, slurs, smears, toots, spit effects that aren't available in one key
 but are in another.
So, while someone like Stevie Wonder uses a C chromo all the time..HE writes to ACCOMODATE the sound he wants. It's different. 

And I have heard him do tunes he didn't write, and he doesn't always play them in the keys they came in. Alfie is in C..he uses Bb. 

Music that someone has already written pays absolutely NO attention to what works for a chromo. A lot of jazz is written in Bb Eb &
F. This is GREAT for horns. It's horn friendly. Some music isn't.  

>  CBH
> said, "If you're good enough, you need only one!"

Yes, I have heard Cham-Ber

>  So, I took a vow that any
> new song I learned would be on the "C" professional chromatic.

This is super. Do you play weekly with jazz bands? 

>   ( I'd play
> songs I'd previously learned on the chromatic which matched the key)  Later,
> it was driving me crazy, because I'd hear a note in my head and on "C" it
> would one way and on another chromatic it would be different.

A-ha #2, Yes, some people have a thing where they are atuned to a certain reference pitch. Then when they switch harps, their ears rebel. I am no expert on this but I think that playing diatonic and jumping around on the kept me from having this problem. I started on chromatic first but by the time I got to diatonic, I was already transposing. So the pitches don't affect me at all. 
> Example:  on C harp it's blow on C  but different on another key harp.

Sure. Could be different hole, different breath direction, different slide position. 

> Hence, had to give up all the other chromatics and just stick with the
> professional "C."  ( Also made my burden lighter!-smile) what works best.        Jo-Zeppi / Pittsburgh Jazz Society
> Norman Vickers

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