[Harp-L] How much is enough?

Steve moorcot@xxxxx
Thu Aug 8 18:10:50 EDT 2019

Howdy Aongus

I found that most sessioneers who could actually tune their instruments on the hoof used cheapie tuners that gave them equal temperament tuning, and they'd tune to "concert pitch," A440. All the decent harmonicas I've ever bought seem to hover around A442, which I think it's ideal for us in sessions. What isn't ideal is harps tuned away from equal temperament. I've used Lee Oskars and Suzuki harps that come in that tuning, and I love 'em.  With Hohner SP20s I always tweaked the harp to equal. Oddly, if I played one that I hadn't tweaked it grated so much with me that it affected my playing, yet, if I listened back to recordings of our playing, I couldn't hear those horrid flat thirds, etc, at all.

In a nutshell, equal temperament at around A442 gave me the least grief!   



> On 8 Aug 2019, at 14:05, Aongus Mac Cana <amaccana at xxxxx> wrote:
> I am watching this thread with interest, because I don't know how much a
> note needs to be out of tune to offend my (probably inadequate) ear.
> I play in weekly sessions of Irish Trad  where there are usually at least
> twenty participants banging out Jigs, Reels and Hornpipes in unison.
> In the company of loud Paolo Sopranis, Banjos, Uilean Pipes, Concert Flutes
> and God knows what else, I find it hard to hear myself - much less know
> whether I am in tune or not.
> In Irish Sean Nos (unaccompanied traditional) singing, virtuosi are expected
> to bend notes in an extravagant way as a form of ornamentation. Some people
> describe this as "singing in the cracks". However losing the plot and
> finishing up singing in a different key from the one you started in would
> not meet with approval.
> Trad instrumentalists often try to mimic the ornamentation used in other
> instruments rolls, triplets and the like.  I look forward to the Irish
> harmonica player who will be able to mimic the style of a Sean Nos singer ot
> the Fiddle playing of Martin Hayes. This is where tasteful bending could
> come into its own.
> Beannachtai
> Aongus Mac Cana

More information about the Harp-L mailing list