[Harp-L] Circle of Fifths (Circle of Fourths) and Positions

@ MusiCal
I don't really think of the Circle of Fifths in terms of reading musical
notation.  I only have barely scratched the surface of applying sheet music
to harmonica, and mainly for chromatic.

About the only link between CoF and musical notation that occurs to me is
that the CoF does tell you the order that sharps and flats are added to
keys.  If you know that the key of G adds F# and the key of F adds Bb, then
from there on flats are added counterclockwise in order of fourths, and
sharps are added clockwise in order of fifths (C has no sharps or flats).
Knowing the sharps or flats in any key helps you know the notes of each
major scale.

In practical terms, without all the bonus theory that comes with it, I use
the CoF to help me choose which harp to use for a song, if I am given the
key signature and tone center of the song.

@ Harp (Brad)
Michael Rubin gave a good answer to why I use this, as did Iceman.

Arranging my harps by order of CoF was originally so I could find the harp
for Crossharp/2nd position easily.  I didn't start out wanting to learn a
lot of theory.  I found it confusing and slow to check a Circle diagram and
then locate the correct harp for 2nd position.  So I arranged them in order
of CoF  in a harp case.

As I began playing other positions I realized it was easy and clear to see
which harp I could use for different positions.   When I had it memorized
(just by picking up harps that were in order of CoF) I realized that it was
really useful in many ways.

I sub in a local acoustic Americana band that has a huge catalog of songs.
They don't use set lists.  The bass player will gesture from across the
stage to tell me the key (if I couldn't read it off the guitar) by using
the number of sharps (fingers up) or flats (fingers down) with one hand.
By knowing the CoF I could easily identify the key of the song by the
sharps or flats he held up or down.  I didn't set out to memorize this, it
just came with having learned the CoF.

The modes that are easily available in 3rd, 4th, and 5th positions are
minor modes (Dorian, Aeolian, Phrygian), and you can take advantage of this
to play minor songs without needing many bends or overbends.   I use the
CoF to help choose harps to play minor songs in those positions.  NOTE: You
aren't restricted to playing only in those modal scales in those positions,
they are just easily available and helpful in those positions.

I know that all this can be confusing (It was for me!), but I found it
worthwhile and learned a lot without really working at it.

I should note that I have read that Howard Levy organizes his harps in
keyboard order.  Since he is a keyboard player and studied and learned
theory as part of that instrument, it makes sense that he would use this
different approach.

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