[Harp-L] MIDI Sounds from a Standard Harmonica

bren@xxxxx bren@xxxxx
Fri Mar 27 04:25:37 EDT 2020

This is an interesting area which can apply to any type of solo harmonica,
chromatic or diatonic, in any tuning.


Over the past couple of months I've been spending a lot of time exploring
various pitch-to-Midi solutions. This is basically about playing a standard
analogue harmonica into some kind of interface to get Midi sounds from it. I
had tried this in the past, but always gave up in frustration because of too
many sound glitches, and latency. Those factors still exist, but with a lot
of research and fine tweaking of settings they can be minimized to the point
where I now feel this approach is really workable.


I'm using the iPad as my Midi sound source, as well as for audio. It's an
incredible playing resource for any musician, as millions of keyboard
players and guitarists have already discovered! But up till now few harp
players seem to have taken the iPad seriously, even for using guitar-type
effects in an app like Bias FX. If you check the Facebook discussion groups
on harmonica effects, the overwhelming view is that the standard old-school
pedalboard with a bunch of your favourite foot-stomp pedals is the only way
to go. Even floor multi-effects units like the Line-6 are frowned on by the


Sure, there are some great foot pedals especially designed for harmonica out
there, mostly made by the Lone Wolf company. Fair play to them, and I'm not
dissing their great work over recent years in creating dedicated pedals for
harmonica players. But to me, using floor pedals is a very poor approach for
us harmonica players. Having them on the floor means adjusting settings
means crouching down, and it's easy to hit knobs and mess up the sound with
clumsy foot operation. Unlike guitarists and keyboard players, we have a
free hand to quickly change sounds and do fine tweaking of settings, so it
makes sense to have our effects units at waist height - preferably mounted
on a mic-stand.


This goes perfectly with using the iPad, because it's so small and light and
is designed for finger operation. Combine that with its awesome processing
power and the HUGE number of amazing music apps inside, and you have an
incredibly powerful music workstation at your fingertips. That's the case
even for the many excellent packages of digital emulations of guitar-type
effects, such as Tonestack, Bias FX, Tonebridge, Amplitude etc. They are all
fantastic in themselves, and have some stunning iPad versions of pedals that
go wonderfully with harmonica. For example, Bias FX and Tonestack have their
own version of the POG 2 Poly-Octaver. It sounds just as good as the real
thing, costs a fraction of the price, and can be patched along with hundreds
of other great pedals on your iPad screen - or even along with a traditional


But then if you throw in the plethora of Midi synths in the iPad, you have a
huge NEW area of amazing sounds that have never been accessed by harp
players before. This is what I've been exploring recently. It's taken a lot
of time, trial and error (and expense!) on various dead-ends or
unsatisfactory solutions, but I've now got to a point where I have something
stable and reliable happening, which is really usable in recording and


I'm making a series of videos on the Harmonica and iPad combination. Here is
the first one, a general overview of the possibilities:



Brendan Power

www.x-reed.com <http://www.x-reed.com> 

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

www.youtube.com/brendanpowermusic <http://www.youtube.com/brendanpowermusic>



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