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

Hey, guys.  I don't play blues like most of the rest of you, but I do
play 2nd position -- and the other 5 positions that do not require you
to bend notes to play a complete scale in the mode appropriate to the

So, Iceman chill!  A rose by any other name... for crying out loud.
Just because you don't know what oxygen is doesn't mean that you do
not need it to live.  And you don't have to know what elements you
need to get from the air you breathe in order to get the benefit that
allows you to stay alive when you breathe.

Position is not specifically a reference to music theory.  It is a
reference to the instrument on which the music is being played.  It is
a label that we musicians use in reference to how an instrument is
approached or handled.  In playing the violin, 1st position is "open"
-- off of the nut.  3rd position is closer in, virtually with the
heel in the palm of the hand.  In playing trombone, 1st position is
with the slide in tight, 6th is at the bell, and 7th is just beyond
the bell.  Upright bass players are sometimes known to play in "block
positions", which can be moved around the neck to suit the key needed.
 (The terms "position", "blocks", or "block positions" are applied to
many stringed instruments with necks.)  On any instrument which
essentially has a geography or geometry to its play, the word
"position" is a way we musicians use to communicate to each other how
we approach the instrument we are playing.

Harmonica positions were first identified as such on the diatonic
Richter tuned harmonica and are a direct reference to that particular
instrument, though they can be used with many of the other scale
patterns found on harmonicas.  For example, when I bought a circular
tuned harmonica, it was purchased with the knowledge that Seydel sold
the harmonica in keys identified by 2nd position.  Obviously,
"position", "mode", and "scale" are individual references to aspects
of playing music that musicians use to describes aspects of playing
music which are otherwise not easily described.  By definition, they
are related, but they are independent of one another.  As for the
terms "mode" and "scale", these are further defined formally in the
concept of music theory -- again to describe and enable the study of a
subject that is entirely subjective and indescribable otherwise.

There is no point in arguing as to whether or not the terms apply to
you since the terms are used to describe playing in general.

As a point of reference, I started playing the diatonic harmonica by
ear.  I had one Marine Band in the key of C.  In my first jam, right
after I got my harmonica, we played bluegrass and country music in the
keys of C, D/Dm, F, G, A/Am, and E/Em.  I never knowingly bent a note.
 I simply found amongst the notes available those which complimented
and were useful to the music being played and made something out of
them.  It cannot be denied that I played positionally by concept, or
that the music was modally applicable, but I only played by ear and
had never heard the terms before.  I was simply lucky that nearly
every key we used worked with the scale I had at hand.

You don't have to know the terms to play music, but the concepts
described by them are very important to the musician.  Every player
can benefit from exposure to them at every stage of their development.


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