Re: [Harp-L] Re: Chords

Brendan Power wrote:

Michelle wrote:

"And that brings me to my question. I eschew playing chords on those
Suzukis, though I love them in every other respect. That's because, to
my ear, chords on an equal-tuned harp sound ah, well, annoyingly sour."

I'm assuming the Promasters you spoke of for Irish and fiddle tunes are
half-valved in Paddy Richter tuning, Michelle?
Hey, Brendan. Thank you for the kind reply!

Actually, truth be told, my beloved half-valved Promasters remain in standard Richter layout. I have Paddy-ed (if that's the term) several Special 20's. I've yet to Paddy an equal tuned harp.

As to Paddy itself, it's time for a bit of a confession. I love being able to avoid that pesky 3-draw bend but I am an old horse who's always played straight Richter. I have trouble with alternate tunings, even with only one silly altered note, so I am still getting used to Paddy Richter layout and have trouble playing it at speed. I've laid a couple accidental "eggs" trying to transition so at this point I still resort to my normal Richter Promasters for melodic playing along with other instruments.

It depends how many notes you feel you need to make a 'chord'. Thirds are
the issue, but chords don't necessarily need thirds to be effective. You can
get two very nice two-note chords in the bottom end on any 10 hole harp in
standard Richter or Paddy Richter, in whatever temperament. Hole 1 and 2
draw are in fifths, and should be tuned for a rich, stable double-stop sound
for a 'chord' based on the two draw - which could be major or minor.

In standard Richter holes 3 and 4 blow are also a fifth apart and give the
same effect for a two-note chord based on 4 blow, and in Paddy Richter I
always tune the 3 blow to give a nice rich fifths sound with 2 blow.
Depending on the context it can also be major or minor (normally minor in
the context of Irish music).

I know these are not the same as full rich chords with thirds, but they do
give useful double-stop sounds that can substitute on equal tempered harps.
I hadn't tried those double stops before. You're right of course, they do sound nice. Good tip!

Another possibility is to do selective bending when playing two notes
together. It takes a bit of practice but you can bend equal-tuned double
stops into a pleasing just resonance by bending one of the notes on a
sustained breath. For example, you could play the 4 and 5 blow together and
slightly valve-bend the 5 blow (the too-sharp third) down to give a rich
justified type of sound.
Well, kind sir, you give me too much credit. I can bend both notes, but not just one. To the woodshed for me!
However I know these are only limited solutions, and your solution (to have
two sets of harps) is the only practical one if you want the benefits of
both just and tempered tuning.
I clearly need to practice more with my Paddy-Richter harps. You've shed new light on their versatility. I may even work up to Paddy-ing those half-valved Suzukis, which for me are pretty much sacrosanct just the way they are. 8^)

Thanks again and I hope to catch you at SPAH!


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