[Harp-L] Re: Richter+ tuning
- To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: [Harp-L] Re: Richter+ tuning
- From: Richard Hunter <turtlehill@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 12 May 2014 16:00:07 +0000 (GMT+00:00)
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- Reply-to: Richard Hunter <turtlehill@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Winslow Yerxa wrote:
As I said before every alternate tuning gives you something and takes away something else. I use a few of them myself, but they work for me and I'm not about to try to convince the world that any of them is the path to salvation.
All true. I use six or seven different tunings for my pieces, but--and it's a VERY big caveat--all of them are variations on Richter: natural minor, dorian minor, country, Paddy Richter, harmonic minor, Melody Maker, and standard. By "variations on Richter," I mean that all of them essentially have the same scale tones in the same place on the harp. When I play a natural minor in 2nd position, I know where the scale tones are. Ditto any of these other variations in any of the common positions.
Of course the scale tones are not the same--the 3rds and 6ths are minor on the Natural minor, the 3rds are minor on the Dorian minor, etc. But the LOCATION of the scale tones is the same--the 3rd degree of the scale is in the same location in 1st/2nd/3rd position no matter which Richter variation I'm using. That makes it easy for me to take advantage of the differences for a wide range of musical purposes, starting with expanded chording options.
I've made a habit over the years of swapping out my "pocket harps"--the ones I carry around to take advantage of fleeting opportunities for practice--with different variations at regular intervals. It keeps my ear fresh, and it's a painless way to get comfortable with these different tunings. But tunings like the Powerbender and Circular represent much more radical departures from standard Richter, and I know from experience that it takes a lot more time and effort to master something that different. I fear that I will never really be able to play a Powerbender with the same fluency that I have with Richter variations, its obvious expressive advantages aside.
I don't think that problem will be as difficult for a player starting out now as it has always been for me, given how deeply habits are ingrained after 40-plus years of practice. I urge younger players to take full advantage of new developments in diatonic harp tuning to create music that is simply impossible on a Richter variation.
As James Brown said, "It's a new day, so let a man come in and make popcorn!" Translation: try a new tuning every once in a while. If you're just beginning to learn, try something radical like a circular or Powerbender. If you've played standard Richter for years, drop a natural minor or Country tuning into the mix. Either way, it's likely to be more fun than if you never tried.
Regards, Richard Hunter
author, "Jazz Harp" (Oak Publications, NYC)
Latest mp3s and harmonica blog at http://hunterharp.com
Vids at http://www.youtube.com/user/lightninrick
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