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Author Topic: chromatic harmonica dynamics  (Read 3430 times)

mindthegap

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chromatic harmonica dynamics
« on: March 07, 2014, 03:22:31 AM »
Hi panamaharp - re your question (and re my question :) ), I thought I'd try starting the thread here.  Hopefully someone will say if that's not right.

This was my comment on your piece...

panamaharp's  "Twelve Minutes Before Eight". .     Very smooth and melodic playing. I don't play chromatic - is it possible to get more dynamics? It was begging for some expressive crescendos in places.     --mindthegap

...as I say, I don't play chromatic myself, so interested to know what's available. I'm tempted given what I have heard here - all those extra notes available!  I am use to hearing big loud wails from diatonic - are the instruments different in that respect?  Or is it around technique?

Guy

rnav2174

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 09:59:15 AM »
Just listened the the track in question, and would like to add that although it is played clean , there is a lot more that can be done with it ? For one thing, more button and trilling could make it sound more interesting. Maybe it's just me , as most of you know , I would probably play it as Stevie or a Jazz Sax player would . That's just my personal preference in the way I would play it which doesn't mean anything, not every chromatic piece has to be played like Stevie or Toots. 


Hi panamaharp - re your question (and re my question :) ), I thought I'd try starting the thread here.  Hopefully someone will say if that's not right.

This was my comment on your piece...

panamaharp's  "Twelve Minutes Before Eight". .     Very smooth and melodic playing. I don't play chromatic - is it possible to get more dynamics? It was begging for some expressive crescendos in places.     --mindthegap

...as I say, I don't play chromatic myself, so interested to know what's available. I'm tempted given what I have heard here - all those extra notes available!  I am use to hearing big loud wails from diatonic - are the instruments different in that respect?  Or is it around technique?

Guy
« Last Edit: March 07, 2014, 10:09:19 AM by rnav2174 »

mindthegap

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 10:07:04 AM »
I asked the question about dynamics in my comments on panamaharp's chromatic piece, and panamaharp asked where was a good place to start a discussion.

So the discussion hasn't started yet.  Hope that makes sense :-)

rnav2174

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 10:21:08 AM »
Oops, sorry for jumping the gun. Although I'm  not a Chromatic expert like Richard Hunter , Winslow Yerxa or some of the other players on SlideMeister, I have been playing a Chrom since around 1971 and know a little bit in answering the question about Chrom dynamics. Anyway, I just thought I'd join in. Thanks

mindthegap

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2014, 10:29:55 AM »
That's fine, good to hear from you.  I've been reading your posts about Jazz harp.  This is a real 101 question so apologies for that.  I was particularly wondering about changes in volume - crescendo and diminuendo. I get the impression that you hear that a bit more on diatonic - but my impression could be wrong.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2014, 10:32:06 AM by mindthegap »

rnav2174

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2014, 10:35:53 AM »
Although I'm not on SlideMeister.com anymore, I do recommend joining it to expand your Chrom education. It's free and there are guys on there who really know a lot about the technical ins and outs of the Chrom.

rnav2174

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2014, 11:29:17 AM »
An example of what I was talking about when it comes to the use of the button and trills in creating a more dynamic sound. On this piece , I used an $80 Swan 16 hole and it came out sounding as good as the recording I did using my $250+ Hohner CX12.  Anyway, the button is there for a reason so I like taking advantage of it's use, maybe a little more than others but that's they way I like doing it.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6oO9RgTvsk

panamaharp

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2014, 06:43:51 PM »
Hi mindthegap -

Thanks for starting the thread.  I'm still trying to find my may through this site. I agree with rnav2174; the chromatic is an extremely expressive instrument, full of dynamics and textures in the hands and mouth of the right player...I'm just not one of them, but hope to be one day.

My chromatic playing is clean and dry because I'm still trying to find my way around the harp, still thinking about notes, holes and techniques instead of the music. Also, for me the chromatic is not as loud as the diatonic so the dynamic spectrum may not be as wide; but it is (as usual) mostly the player and not the instrument.

I'm assuming you are familiar with Stevie or Toots and the classic 3rd position Chicago blues players.  All awesome players worth listening to; but for my money the most unique chromatic player today is Bill Barrertt.

He plays in any number of styles and bands, but for his blues / rock playing check out these links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNlezP_4plw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7aw2iTxHxs

That is the sound I want from the chromatic...I just don't know how to get there.

rnav2174

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2014, 07:33:38 PM »
Just heard the Bill Barret links and he sounds very William Clarkeish. I think his sound is more about his amplification than his actually playing technique, his runs don't seem to me to be that different from what other Blues players do . If it's that sound you are after, look into the type of mics available with that distortion capability, Blues Blaster, Bullet, you know. But before worrying about the sound, focus on your technique. Play with no amplification at all completely dry so you know exactly what you are putting out, and then add the effects once you got your playing down. Sometimes the effects can fool you into thinking you are playing better than you actually are. I've experienced this on some of my recordings with effects, when I shut them off while playing , I get a real rude awakening. The reverb on some of my pieces actually hides some of the imperfections heard when I play it back dry. Now, before I record anything with effects, it first has to sound good to me dry. I'm still learning too . I was told this by some pretty good Blues players but I also read it on the Amplification link on the Harp On Chromatic Reference site. Thanks
« Last Edit: March 07, 2014, 07:39:53 PM by rnav2174 »

panamaharp

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2014, 03:13:20 PM »
rnav2174 - Good advice regarding good acoustic playing before tackling amplification, there is nothing like unamplified playing to expose mistakes  :)

However in my mind once you cup a mic and plug into an amplifier it is almost a different instrument and new techniques come into play (depending on the type of music).

I don't agree with your comments on Barrett tone and playing, however that may not be readily apparent from those two clips.  Then again we all hear music differently and from different frames of reference.

Going back to the original topic, for dynamics with the chromatic you can use the same tongue blocking techniques that you use with the diatonic (slaps, pulls, octaves) plus you can use the button fro dips and trills; and you can also bend notes.

rnav2174

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2014, 05:08:57 PM »
Panama, you are so right about cupping a mic and plugging into an amp , it's a total different experience requiring a different approach and techniques  , which for me,  is very motivating. I play to a lot Stevie Wonder and Smooth Jax Sax so my comments about Barret are coming from someone who hears and plays Blue differently than most guys who play the way he does using a Chromatic . He's a great player for sure, it's just that I've heard a lot of other great players who kind of have that same sound when they use a Chrom. As for Chrom technique, I use the button and slide a lot almost exclusively and I don't block at all , I'm a complete pucker player. I guess when I first started playing way back around 1971, I didn't really know about other ways to get a single tone and after doing it this way for so many years, it's the thing that works best for me now. I've tried blocking but when I'm trying to play fast and keep up with a really fast moving Sax player or any other jazz interment, it really slows me down and feels really awkward . Yeah for me , puckering has become a reflex that works well for me and so I wouldn't change a thing about what I've been doing for almost 45 years now. Actually if there was one thing I would change about the way I play , it would probably be my total dependence on my playing by ear, since I don't read music and am just getting start with it, I have no other choice but to play what I hear and feel . I working on learning to read and apply it to my playing but it's a slow process. Anyway, thanks for the thread.

rnav2174 - Good advice regarding good acoustic playing before tackling amplification, there is nothing like unamplified playing to expose mistakes  :)

However in my mind once you cup a mic and plug into an amplifier it is almost a different instrument and new techniques come into play (depending on the type of music).

I don't agree with your comments on Barrett tone and playing, however that may not be readily apparent from those two clips.  Then again we all hear music differently and from different frames of reference.

Going back to the original topic, for dynamics with the chromatic you can use the same tongue blocking techniques that you use with the diatonic (slaps, pulls, octaves) plus you can use the button fro dips and trills; and you can also bend notes.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2014, 05:20:03 PM by rnav2174 »

Steamrollin Stan

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2014, 06:20:15 AM »
Ed's a pretty cool chromo player, and so is '7limitji' ,google the 'Pentatonics'  , but the big stick is one bugger that seems to be problematic for newb's.

rnav2174

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Re: chromatic harmonica dynamics
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2014, 11:20:36 PM »
....but the big stick is one bugger that seems to be problematic for newb's.

Learning to play the chromatic harmonica isn't more difficult then learning to play the diatonic.
As for dynamics: you can pretty much do anything you can do on a bluesharp on a chromatic and visa-versa.

-- Ed

I agree ED, in-fact , I think the Chrom might even be a little easier to play in someways because getting a half tone up or down just requires the push of a button. I also think that it really just depends on the player and what they want to accomplish with the instrument. I you really want to play a certain way bad enough, you'll just have to work at it hard enough to make it happen.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2014, 11:24:36 PM by rnav2174 »