[Harp-L] Questions on Bending/OB/OD and Scales/Music/TAB

Leonard Schwartzberg leonard1@xxxxx
Tue Apr 25 16:29:46 EDT 2017

Winslow;   Thanks so very much for the time you've spent replying to my "simple" questions.   On the 2nd method (transpose for the key of harmonica), that's seemingly the main method of usage.   Question is, given the second method, how do you choose which key of harmonica to use assuming you want to play in 2nd position crossharp?   If the music is written in the key of C (for example), then I play 2nd position, key of G on my C harmonica.   Therefore, does it follow that if the music is written in the key of Db (for example, because it's got Db Eb Gb Ab Bb shown near the Treble Clef Key Signature) then should I choose an "Ab" harp to play in 2nd position?   Also, considering that you obviously have a great understanding of harmonica, and positions, and playing (overall) would your book "blues harp for dummies" be a great book for me?   Thanks, Leonard

-----Original Message-----
From: Harp-L [mailto:harp-l-bounces at xxxxx] On Behalf Of Winslow Yerxa via Harp-L
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 3:31 PM
To: Leonard Schwartzberg; 'Harp-L'
Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Questions on Bending/OB/OD and Scales/Music/TAB

There are two different way to treat written music on diatonic harmonica.
One is to write it at actual pitch and let the player figure out where the notes are on different keys of harmonica. The Broadway musicals I've played (Big River, Floyd Collins) do that. (I have a couple of tricks for reading and transposing on the fly for diatonic that I figured out while playing Big River.) I actually preferred that approach as I sometimes chose a different harmonica from hat was indicated or expected. When I transcribed John Popper's solos for the songbook to the Blues Traveler CD "four," John also chose that method - actual pitch notation.
The other practice is to transpose for the key of harmonica, so that Blow 1 is always written as Middle C, Blow 2 as E on the next line up, and so on. That way the notes on the staff always correspond to the same holes, breaths, and bends/overbends. David Barrett has started to use this transposing method at bluesharmonica.com Transposing for the key of the instrument has been done for centuries in classical music for Bb instruments (clarinet, trumpet, tenor sax), Eb instruments (alto and baritone sax), and F instruments (French horn, English horn). That way when the player switches instruments s/he doesn't have to make the notes correspond to a completely different set of fingerings. (Also, until the mid-19th century, trumpets and French horns were diatonic instruments that could be put into different keys by inserting a length of tubing between the mouthpiece and the horn, much like the diatonic harmonica, and clarinets came in both Bb and A.) Writing for the diatonic harmonica as a transposing instrument does make life easier for the diatonic player. However, it also turns him/her into a basket case who must rely on music already transposed for the diatonic. Tab does the same thing. Most written music is published un-tranposed, so if you're going to plunge into reading music on diatonic, learn to transpose - it will open up a much wider world of music to you. Winslow Yerxa Producer, the Harmonica Collective Author, Harmonica For Dummies, Second Edition: ISBN 978-1-118-88076-0
            Harmonica Basics For Dummies, ASIN B005KIYPFS
            Blues Harmonica For Dummies, ISBN 978-1-1182-5269-7 Resident Expert, bluesharmonica.comInstructor, Jazzschool Community Music SchoolPresident emeritus, SPAH, the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica

      From: Leonard Schwartzberg <leonard1 at xxxxx>Next topic:  Scales...

                Scale Degrees (on C.. 1=C; 2=D; 3=E, etc)?

                Harmonica TAB (1+ 2 2'', etc. as per music)

                Notes on staff (EGBDF, FACE... but when changing harp to A HARP, do we still read the notes as EGBDF, etc.?  or, if reading music, do we need to transpose in our head?)

                Notes on scale (cdefgabc) but when changing harp (let's say to A harp), once again, how to sight read the notes?  Or do we need to
write down the scale degrees? Or the TAB? Or??)   

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