[Harp-L] Harp-L Digest, Vol 182, Issue 16 - Modes and Trane's improvising
Mon Oct 29 08:28:36 EDT 2018
Yes Iceman's analogy with language is a good one. I am a much better writer than I am a harmonica player but I went to school just after grammar and rules of English had been dropped from the curriculum, this held me back as a writer until I learned about grammar studying psycholinguistics and foreign languages as an adult.
Not only are there received grammars, for instance of English, but supposedly ungrammatical ‘dialects’ also have grammars just as solid as the received English one. The amazing example (to me in the late 1970s) was William Labov’s work on African American English. Similarly musics that play the ‘wrong’ notes or include microtones (as much early blues does) have orderly structures. Finally, circling back to harmonica, it is fascinating how much effort some diatonic harmonica players devote to playing only all the ‘right’ notes precisely in tune, often with highly impressive results. But to quote James Blood Ulcer about his guitar playing
"The tuning I use totally eliminates sounding like a piano, and that’s what I’m reaching for. That’s the next thing I want to do with Mats and them, is to play with that tuning. They will put it right into that original sound where there’s no chords, no scales, no modulation—just getting away from that western, European piano thing."
I prefer it when harmonica does not sound like a piano or, more accurately, an accordion.
PS - for those interested Ulmer’s guitar tuning is, I think actually two notes 1st and 5th, either D A D A A D or E B E B B E. No, I have no plans to retune a harmonica like this.
> On 29 Oct 2018, at 11:57, The Iceman <icemanle at xxxxx> wrote:
> Richard sez:
> <<Once you understand the musical rules you can choose to break them, but you need to understand them first because it takes knowledge and skill to break the rules in ways that are musically enjoyable, exciting or effective, rather than sounding terrible or incompetent.>>
> I don't know what they do in 2nd grade here in the US any longer, but I remember having to learn all the rules about English, even though I was speaking it fluently (although very simplified) already.
> Anyone else remember having to diagram sentences with those straight and diagonal lines on which you would write the words?
> This only helped me along later as I chose to improve my speaking and writing skills, so I learned all the rules and how they applied. Eventually I was able to break the rules in search of a personalized style. As a matter of fact, I realize now that I've actually forgotten a lot of the rules, yet my skills have remained and improved over the years.
> So, to me it was worthwhile.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Richard Hammersley <rhhammersley at xxxxx>
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