Re: [Harp-L] History of harp tuning; Chrom Tuning

I'm in agreement with Slim on this. I love the feel of the different keys, the way each fingering creates its own constraints, demands and freedoms. 

It's more difficult for me to move around fluidly in, for example, E than it is Bb or F, and this forces me to play slower, and just maybe more thoughtful lines, and perhaps sometimes this suggests certain ideas to me.

An analogy from poetry might be writing within the constraints of meter and rhyme, as in the sonnet form. The very "rigidity" of the form can, ironically, lead one to ideas.
So it can be with solo tuning....but if altered tunings are what a player wants to explore, beautiful. I love the music that some of the players who use these tunings create. Let a thousand flowers bloom!
WVa Bob

Sent from my iPhone

On May 17, 2014, at 11:16 AM, "Slim Heilpern" <slim@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Touch.ANi! It's true, I'm just trying to justify my love of the tuning.
> But I'm actually serious about this -- not as a reason to learn solo tuning, but as an added benefit. Anyway, it's certainly no more masochistic then learning a bunch of different tunings ;-).
> I don't think any chromatic harmonica tuning gives you the natural speed and flexibility of an instrument like the saxophone. While true for most instrument layouts, some licks allow you to speak more fluently than others and with harmonica we need all the help we can get due to the difficulty of things like legato interval jumps, the need to change breath direction when playing legato, and such. We find that certain fingerings allow the instrument to fly whereas others are a struggle to play musically. A classic example in solo tuning would be one of Stevie Wonder's (apparently) favorite chromatic runs playing A Bb B C and back down again. It's all inhale and button pushes, so you can do it very, very fast with a bit of practice. The same all-draw pattern starting on different holes gives you very different results (they are all very cool, but only the A to C gives you the chromatic scale). This certainly makes the instrument harder to learn, but for your listeners, assumin!
> g you improvise in a variety of keys, they won't tend to hear the same boring licks from key to key because you won't tend to play them, you find different licks that work better in those keys.
> You could of course get the same result with a more logical tuning by switching harmonicas between tunes, or forcing yourself to find different licks to play from tune to tune. Without meaning to offend anyone, I'll just say that of the harp players I've heard that switch instruments to play in different keys (achieving a similar result to having a logical chromatic layout), only the very best don't bore me by playing the same licks in every key. 
> On the other hand, I love listening to the great jazz button accordion players (who use a logical tuning layout), but there's so much speed built into that instrument in the first place that the situation is different -- unlike harmonica, there seems to be little that you can't do on that instrument.
> Anyway, I'm positioning the variety-across-keys argument as a pleasant side effect from having learned solo tuning, not a reason to learn it in the first place. It would certainly be easier to learn to play in multiple keys on augmented, diminished, or perhaps other tunings. But if I were starting from scratch, knowing what I know now, I would probably still start with solo, because I'd want to be able to copy from the masters, most of whom play solo tuning. I'd want to be able to play an off-the-shelf axe. And I'd want to know that the things I've heard the masters play can actually be done on my instrument too -- without knowing that, I might not have the confidence to feel I could do it too with enough practice. It's the inertia thing, and it's questionable whether that's worth fighting against. But that's just me -- I love hearing others take the plunge into alternate tunings. I think they're brave and I wish them great success in their endeavor.
> - Slim.
> On May 17, 2014, at 3:28 AM, Brendan Power wrote:
>> ...
>> Slim makes a more interesting point by actually celebrating the fact that
>> you have to learn 12 patterns to play in all keys on Solo tuning, instead of
>> just 3 in Diminished (or even 2 is you half valve and bend to get the
>> necessary notes):
>> "Another angle on what I'll call the logical tunings (diminished and
>> augmented come to mind), is that the fewer 'fingerings' (for lack of a
>> better term) required to play in all keys, the less variety you'll have when
>> switching keys. With the illogical solo tuning, every key on the chrom is a
>> new world, with different strengths, different usable double-stops and
>> chords, different available ornaments -- that's one of the things I love
>> about it, it's not boring."
>> That's a clever riposte! Good for masochists, certainly. Taking that logic,
>> I wonder if there was a way to make it even more difficult for you Slim, and
>> therefore presumably more enjoyable ;-)
> ...

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