Re: [Harp-L] re:Richter+ tuning
Winslow very astutely observed and then stated, regarding alternate tunings (excerpt):
"... but for some reason none has supplanted the standard tunings."
I assert (without proof) that the PRIMARY reason is inertia, similar to the QWERTY
effect in typewriter (and now computer) keyboard layouts. Alternate keyboard layouts
have been proven to be much more efficient, especially the Dvorak layout, but the
industry standard continues to be the ... industry standard QWERTY layout.
There is an enormous inertia in all aspects of the industry which makes and supports
and plays harmonicas. An alternate layout requires retooling of the factory. In order
for it to be economically viable (profitable), the economies of scale must work in
favor of the alternate. However, the vast majority of training literature is oriented
toward the traditional "standard" tuning. The vast majority of teachers (and role
models, as players) learned how to make good music using what was available back in the
day (including what's available in the "current day"). What and how the teachers learned
is now the "received wisdom" which is propagated to the next generation. It takes
considerable dedication and time to acquire the skills to play good music with skill on
a limited instrument. (Every instrument has limitations of some kind; that's NO HIT on
the lowly harmonica.) Only a few "fanatics" (Mr. Duke of Wail and ME!) are willing to
unlearn/relearn the basics in order to reap the potential benefits. Even with those
putative benefits, there are things that are lost. For instance, if you like playing
octaves, then you'll have to use something other than Spiral Tuning, because you CANNOT
play octaves on it: the breath switches direction at the octave. This is merely an
artifact of "spiraling" the diatonic scale around and NOT some "strange" anomaly. Seven
notes do not evenly divide into 4 holes.
In short, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If it was good enough for Little Big Muddy
Walter Waters, then it's by God good enough for YOU, Grasshopper! Just learn to play
the damned thing like God intended it to be played, or at least the way everybody else
who is anybody has played it, still plays it, and will play it, warts and all.
Unless, of course, you want to study the DIFFERENCES and decide that the advantages of
an alternate tuning outweigh the disadvantages AND you are willing to become a beginner
again. All I can say in that case is that it is easier to acquire the skills the second
(or subsequent) time around, if you didn't learn the first time on an alternate tuning.
The most important decision is simply deciding what YOU want to play and finding the
quickest, easiest, least expensive route to that musical Nirvana. No pain, no gain, and
all that rot... Personally, I'm not into all that pain crap when trying to play music.
(I guess that permanently disqualifies me from ever playing the "blues" on harp.)
There Ain't No Such thing As A Free Lunch: you pay your money and eat what you bought.
BUT, if you don't like the taste, then look at the available menu and make a different
selection the next time. Try it; you might just find a new "best" flavor -- for YOU!
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