[Harp-L] The One Harmonica to Rule Them All?

Brendan Power bren@xxxxx
Sat Feb 11 04:17:00 EST 2017

I'm honoured to be beta-testing the Lekholm DM48, the VERY impressive new
MIDI harmonica invented by Sweden's Erik Lekholm. For those who have not
seen it, here is the video of my exploration to date:




The DM48 is a work-in-progress, and Erik has been responding quickly to
every niggle or request I send him. Without exception, he quickly fixes
issues or adds features I ask for in the on-board menus.


But it goes beyond that: into enhancing the way the instrument is physically
played. In response to my pleading, Erik has agreed to give the DM48 an
extra note-shifting button - akin to the second slider on my DoubleChrom. Or
rather, assign that 'second slider' function to the existing round button on
the top cover, to be operated by the left index finger. I've tried pressing
them both in coordination with each other, and ergonomically it works well.


This second button will be able to raise or lower all notes to whatever
interval you wish. An obvious choice for many would be a tone up. In normal
setting, that would give a semitone up with the right button, and tone up
with the top button. Each button will raise or lower the note the chosen
interval relative to the other button. In the setting above, that gives you
semitone and wholetone trills on every note.


Aside from the wholetone trills, that setting alone gives the player so many
useful new note/breath choices, great for finding easier ways to play
awkward phrases. But each button can be programmed to raise/lower whatever
interval you wish, so there are plenty of other options to try out for size.
Add the two-button functionality to the ability to have whatever alternate
tuning you wish inside the DM48, and the possible permutations expand
exponentially! That's heaven for alt-tuning junkies like me, but even for
strict C Solo chromatic players the second button will be a boon.


I asked for player-controllable (as opposed to patch-based) vibrato as well.
Typically Erik said "No problem!". He's now developed a tweakable menu for
that too, and sent me a test clip to demonstrate it, which sounds good. I'll
be getting these updates soon on my prototype, and can't wait to try them.


This ability to continually tweak and add functions in software to the DM48
is extraordinary. It's like a Chameleon or a Shape-Shifter: it can emulate
every harmonica you can imagine, plus a LOT more. It's going to be
fascinating to hear what players do with it after the initial batch is
shipped in the next few months..


The only analogue harmonica feature the DM48 can't emulate yet is embouchure
controlled interactive-reed bending, the characteristic sound of the blues
harp. It's a biggie, and will be a tough nut to crack - even for Erik. But
given the speed at which he's ticking off all the items on my wish-list, I'd
give it a year tops before he has it nailed. 


After that, all bets are off for the future of the harmonica, in my opinion.
All that awesome power and expression plus the ability to play anywhere
through cheap-but-incredible apps on the iPhone in your pocket, or the most
powerful amp on the planet, without feedback... it's mind-blowing to
imagine. I predict more and more harmonica players in the future will want
to live in the world of MIDI, most if not all of the time. 


The DM48 might turn out to be the One Harmonica to Rule Them All.



 <http://www.brendan-power.com/> www.brendan-power.com



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