[Harp-L] Position = Location of a starting note

dh@xxxxx dh@xxxxx
Mon Oct 29 20:08:55 EDT 2018

Dear Richard,

Your explanation makes sense but :
This is not the way positions are used or explained in general
1 - If you look at Lee Oskar's insert (which is the only manufacturer to openly use the positions on their product) they say 1st position major 2nd position dominant 3rd position dorian so they describe modes not roots
2 - Most books show diagram of the notes you can play in 2nd position if I follow you they shouldn’t they should actually list either all the notes (chromatic scale) or just the root 
But that's not the case they give you a 1st position diagram then a 2nd position diagram, sort of scale you can use
3 - I still don’t see the point of using a specific name to say that you would refer to your root on hole 2 draw for 2nd position because :
Well if you play G mixolydian you are actually playing C major and it is easier to refer to the major scale than one of its mode especially when you would refer to another mode of the exact same scale for the 3rd and 4th positions ...

So again even though there is a logic in the way you explain positions there is still no harmonic foundation or benefit in the visualization of the instrument or communication to other musicians
If you tell the pianist you play in 2nd position what does he think you’re doing ?

IMHO Just going with the 12 major scales for starters makes a much better canvas for the player to find its way around the harmonica


David Herzhaft


-----Original Message-----
From: Harp-L <harp-l-bounces at xxxxx> On Behalf Of Richard Sleigh
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2018 4:08 PM
To: Richard HarpL Sleigh <harp-l at xxxxx>
Subject: [Harp-L] Position = Location of a starting note

Position (dictionary definition):

a place where someone or something is located or has been put.

a particular way in which someone or something is placed or arranged.

I think of harmonica positions as indicating the location of your root notes for the key you are playing in. I also relate this to the note layout of the richter tuned diatonic harmonica.

I have a system that has served me well - the diatonic harmonica is a transposing instrument, so just visualize the note layout of the key of C harp and use that as the archetypal harmonica.

Combine that with the circle of fifths with the key of C at the top. The C at the top is first position, G is second, D is third, follow the logic all the way around. 12 positions.

Each position refers to what note is your root note for whatever key you are playing in.  The root notes end up in different places as you go from one position to another.

In the positions 12 - 6th, you have root notes that are also built in notes in the tuning layout. Positions 7 - 11 (the dark side of the moon) have root notes that are bent notes, over-blows or over-draws.

This is all easy to see on the circle of fifths.

What you do after you leave that root note or starting note location is up to you - it could be a mode, a major or a minor or pentatonic or blues or be-bop scale.

The position does not determine or limit what scale you are using it just indicates the location (position) of the starting note or root note of whatever construction you want to think or play in.

Once you get this mental model down, you can adapt it to whatever key harp you are playing.

Works for me...
Richard Sleigh
rrsleigh at xxxxx

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