[Harp-L] PowerChromatic Tuning

Brendan Power bren@xxxxx
Fri Jul 28 04:12:20 EDT 2017

Thanks to David Pearce for revisiting his explanation of PowerChromatic
tuning, in videos related to his very cool new chromatic harmonica design.


I came up with PowerChromatic tuning in 1980 specifically for another
contemporaneous invention of mine: half-valving. Half-valving, for those who
don't know, means that just the low-pitched note in each hole is valve
affected - the high one can bend down via interactive-reed bending, as on a
blues harp. For chromatics in PowerChromatic tuning, it means ripping off
all the problem-prone outside valves and leaving the well-behaved inside
ones in place.


Starting on C, here is the layout for a 12 hole chrom (the slide raises all
notes a semitone, as on a normal chrom): 


Slide out: CD  EF#  GA  AB  CD  EF#  GA  AB  CD  EF#  GA  AB  


Every draw note is a tone above every blow, meaning it can be bent easily
with stable pitch by a semitone. This is very expressive, gives new phrasing
possibilities using bends instead of slide-pushes, and gives the option of
using what I call 'bend enharmonics': a bent version of the note above
rather than the in-built note.


You will see that the home key (1st position) is no longer C, but G -
because that's the natural scale without bends or slide pushes. C is now
12th Position, or First Flat. Second Position is now D, 3rd Position is Am,
4th Position is Em, 5th Position is Bm. When you push the slide in you can
get all these easy positions playing exactly the same a semitone higher. You
can hear how easy it is to play chromatically with bends in this wildly
modulating original tune:





My favoured positions are 2nd for major keys, and 5th for minor keys. That's
because all their main notes are bendable draw notes, so they sound nice and


On a 12 hole chromatic I prefer to start the scale on the 5th below the 2nd
position home note, so it would look like this:


Slide Out: AB  CD  EF#  GA  AB  CD  EF#  GA  AB  CD  EF#  GA 


You can make PowerChromatics easily with a few small retunes from existing
chrom models. But for those who want to buy PowerChromatic readymade, They
are now available from Seydel:



And the reedplates will soon be available configured for David Pearce's new
chrom, which was specifically designed for half-valving. That would be the
best choice for Seydel reedplates for anyone thinking of trying
PowerChromatic out.



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



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