[Harp-L] MIDI will Restore the Status of the Slide Chromatic

bren@xxxxx bren@xxxxx
Tue Jan 31 18:49:21 EST 2017

Vern Smith asks:
> IF you are playing just one MIDI-controlled instrument, why bother  
> with a DM48? Use a keyboard which is vastly superior musically and  
> probably costs much less.

Personally I would choose the DM48 or similar MIDI harmonica, for  
several reasons:

I can already play harmonica well, and can't be bothered starting from  
scratch and spending spending many years to get to a similar level of  
facility on keyboard. Already with the DM48 prototype I can feel I'm  
getting a similar subtlety of swing and dynamics it's taken decades to  
refine on harmonica, and with breath control. I like that combination  
of the familiar and the startlingly new in my mouth. Maybe I have an  
oral fixation :)

The keyboard doesn't excite me as MIDI harmonica does. While Vern's  
points about the superiority of the keyboard as a MIDI instrument may  
be logically true, feelings matter - I've simply never felt motivated  
to play a keyboard. They leave me cold, no matter what they can do.  
But the power of MIDI creating all these new possibilities in a  
familiar harmonica-style interface feels invigorating, like going into  
new territory. Harmonica has many limitations and some will remain,  
but MIDI offers new ways of overcoming many of them.

MIDI keyboard has been around a long time and is pretty humdrum.  
User-friendly MIDI harmonica is just beginning, and offers many  
unexpected delights to we harp players. It's just fun and exciting to  
explore what can be achieved with a small harmonica interface leading  
to all this wizardry behind, that can be configured in so many  
fascinating ways. That's plenty for me.

I said in my opening piece that blues harp techniques like stable  
bending can't be achieved on the DM48 - yet. But I hope and believe  
that eventually Erik (or someone else) will be able to understand and  
quantify the resonance and pressure changes which occur in a typical  
blues harp bend, and transform that into code which makes MIDI notes  
behave like interactive reed bends when we adopt the bending embouchure.

That will make the MIDI harmonica a really awesome beast, a MIDI  
instrument that retains part of its heritage and behaves like no  
other. I hope I can be part of the process to help that happen.

You can keep your keyboards Vern - I'd rather put my MIDI where my mouth is.


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