[Harp-L] Melodies with low bends (was Re: Video about "clean" overblows)

laurentHarp@xxxxx laurentHarp@xxxxx
Sat Jul 28 18:30:14 EDT 2018


Thanks for your feedback and the very interesting thoughts. It would  
be great that you post the link about the 6o!

Yes I've read the discussion you had in the recent past about the  
melody (the one about "above the rainbow", which is was quite good in  
my opinion, and the discussion about the ode to joy challenge).

Actually this is an important subject for me. The ode to joy challenge  
does show that, in such a context, it's very difficult to make a 3"  
sound natural compared to the natural notes. Difficult, but maybe not  
impossible for highly skilled players. I would be interested in  
hearing what today top players would produce, now that the technique  
has been refined.

But anyway, I don't think it means that low draw bends in melody are  
not usable. The Ode to Joy in that position is pretty extreme. In most  
melodies, a reasonable consistency of tone is possible.

When you listen to Sébastien Charlier, Jérôme Peyrelevade and David  
Herzhaft's CDs, it sounds really good.

Here is an example of what I think sounds good:


This is the beginning of a tune by Jérôme Peyrelevade. As you'll  
notice, there are several bent notes in the low octave in the melody (  
3", 3"', 2" and 2', the most difficult sounding bends).

And to my ears, it sounds well.

You can find the part here:


(Note that the harmonica tab is for a lydian tuned harp, which has a  
F# in 5 draw. You will also see a 1 blow bent (B) that is playable  
thanks to a valve on the first hole in the harmonica used by Jérôme.)

Really, this phrase sounds good to my ears, and it is pretty melodic!

I've tried to play it myself:

It can still be improved of course, but this seems decent to me, for  
an amateur player.

Still on the rather melodic side, there is the tune from a French  
singer I've tried to play:


This does contain some bends and overblows in strategic places.

By the way, the instrument has a real impact on the quality of sound.  
The Brodur/Charlier harps are specifically designed for that and make  
possible very good tone on bends an overblows. I would not have the  
same results on other harps.

All that makes me think it would worth it to relaunch the subject and  
maybe to propose a new challenge. I'm thinking about it actually!

Happy harpin'


> You played those nicely Laurent and they work very well in a Jazz  
> context. Not long ago I posted a sweet melody with low hole bends  
> and the consensus seemed to be that it's not a good idea to use low  
> hole draw bends on slow ballads for instance as even if they are  
> played in tune the tonal differences stand out especially if a bend  
> is prolonged.
> Overblows are slightly tonally different to a straight blow or draw  
> but less so than draw bends and I suppose that's because a single  
> reed only sounds on an overblow and I think they sound fine when  
> well played on a well adjusted harp. Christelle Berthon manages to  
> blend them pretty well even on slower melodies.
> I found a technique the other day which helped me play a cleaner and  
> sustained 6OB. I will post a link to it if it is of interest.
> Regards

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