[Harp-L] Saint Saens Organ Symphony and Oberlinger Organ Sounded Harp

Richard Hunter turtlehill@xxxxx
Fri Jul 29 14:01:43 EDT 2016

Vern wrote:
<I doubt that you will find a way to make a mostly-monophonic harmonica sound like a polyphonic organ...
<Any approach that I can think of would be 99% electronics and 1% harmonica. When you go too far to make a harmonica sound like another instrument, you get an <instrument with all of the limitations of the harmonica and without the charm of a true harmonica sound.  If you want an organ sound, then play an organ or an <electronic keyboard.

I agree completely that any solution to this request involves a lot of electronica--maybe not 99%, but certainly plenty.  

What gives me pause is the suggestion that the resulting tones will have "all of the limitations of the harmonica and without the charm of a true harmonica sound."  I agree with the first part of that sentence, though I suggest that the limitations of the harmonica are less about the instrument, and more about the skills and ideas of the people who play it.  In my lifetime I've seen a lot of assumed limitations of the harmonica--for example, chromaticity and speed--go away when somebody with a couple of new ideas showed up.

The second part--"without the charm of a true harmonica sound"--is more questionable in my opinion.  It's true that the harmonica by itself has a great sound--I trust no one on this list in particular will dispute that.  It's also true that in the 21st century almost any instrument can function either as a self-contained machine for generating sound, or as a controller for electronic sound generators.  The former is the traditional role, the latter is the role that advances in FX and electronic instruments have created.  There's nothing intrinsically inferior about tones that are generated electronically, and some of those can be charming indeed.

So if it takes electronica for this guy to get the sounds he wants, I say have at it.  And send some mp3s and vids our way once you nail it.

regarding the specific electronica, one of the new Mellotron emulator pedals from Electro-Harmonix might be just the thing.  Robert Hale can probably advise on that.

Regards, Richard Hunter

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