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Author Topic: Chromatic Vs Diatonic  (Read 215 times)

ShufflinPaul

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Chromatic Vs Diatonic
« on: May 04, 2018, 10:01:44 AM »
Hi Gang!
    This is Shufflin Paul. I have a question for my harmonica family. I have had opportunities and have been playing blues harp here in Wenatchee Washington where I live. This week I had an opportunity to sit in with a Jazz guitarist and the gig went well with the exception of some of the songs that were selected. I do have a few Lee Oskar minor key harps and I was able to muddle through some the songs without causing to much distraction that I had no idea what I was doing. Here is my question. I have never attempted to play a Chromatic Harmonica but I am now thinking it is time to do so. How difficult is it to go from a diatonic to chromatic harmonica. I have played diatonic for 20 years. I know some of you play Chromatic on the Jams. Just trying to get some feedback on the transition time it took some of you to feel comfortable with the chromatic. I know it is about Practice, Practice Practice and I am willing to do so.

Thanks everyone,

Paul

Matt

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Re: Chromatic Vs Diatonic
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2018, 09:29:11 PM »
There are a few things which will require some adaption.

The physical feeling on the mouthpiece, the size and shape of the holes etc, are initially foreign and will become familiar only with practice.
You will need to learn individual scales in the key you are playing in. Most blues chromatic players play in 3rd position (D minor on a C chromatic) but for jazz you will have to bite the bullet and learn some scales.
Resist the urge to bend notes (not only is it difficult, it isn't good for the instrument).
Each octave is contained within four holes and repeats along the harmonica (this is actually easier to grasp than the 10-hole diatonic layout).
Learning to use the slide button expressively.

If you can, try to tongue-block on the chromo, it isn't essential but in the long run it has advantages.
Don't buy a cheap brand.
I think if you divide your interest between jazz (learning some new scales and arpeggios) and blues (going the traditional route in 3rd position) you are more likely to stay motivated than if you just throw yourself at the jazz stuff.
Of course once you start learning more scales there is almost no limit on the genre or style of music you wish to apply your knowledge and skills to.

Chromo is a bit like going from guitar to bass guitar: Your existing skills will be very useful, but essentially you are learning a new instrument.

Best wishes.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 09:31:18 PM by Matt »

Beelzebob

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Re: Chromatic Vs Diatonic
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2018, 10:21:39 PM »
I felt from the beginning that I was unlikely to learn jazz with any real proficiency.  But I wanted to play it, at least sometimes.  The answer for me was to stick mostly to the pentatonic or blues scale.  That has its limitations but at least you are far less likely to play wrong notes.  Sometimes I will look at a chord chart and focus on the root of each chord, but staring at a chart messes with my groove and timing, as it did with the jam I have up now.  I have been very happy with some of my efforts using "chord tones", but it's almost like composing and the furthest thing from improvisation.  I take a chart of a song with the chords and then write the notes to each chord above it.  Then I goof around with those notes until I get something I like.  It takes some work but it's fun and a bit like working out a puzzle.  That jazz musicians can do it in their head, on the fly, amazes me.  I did try learning some other scales.  But jazz musicians switch scales frequently, sometimes from measure to measure.  It always overloaded my brain.  One tip I have: blues is a lot of i-iv-v.  Jazz is a lot of ii-v-i.  Get familiar with that progression, work some melodies for it around in your head, and that may help you.  Speaking of ii-v-i, there are a lot of tricks jazz musicians use to make their job simpler.  One is to learn the standards well, and the famous riffs that have been used on them over the years.  (Jazz guys keep playing the same old stuff.)  You can pass at jams doing that.  But even that may not be easy, it is not for me. 

I played some really dreadful "jazz" on HB for years, and people let me know it.  It's still not very good, but sometimes I have a moment.  Guess that will have to do.  Good luck, I'm sure your path will be unique to you, so tell us how it goes.

If I were starting, I'd probably get a Suzuki Chromatix 12 or 14 hole.  The 14 is nice if you want to play the complete head on some of the standards.



ShufflinPaul

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Re: Chromatic Vs Diatonic
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2018, 12:01:00 AM »
To Beelzabob and Matt,
    Thank you both for your input. It was a lot to digest and I see I will have my work cut out for myself. I do have time to practice so I am up to the challenge. I was thinking about a chrom in the key of G to start with. I looked at the Susuki and I see it has round hole versus square. Any opinions on what key to start with or Susuki chromatix (round holes)versus Hohner Chromatic (square holes).

Thanks,
Paul

Beelzebob

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Re: Chromatic Vs Diatonic
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2018, 01:19:15 AM »
I completely forgot to mention slidemeister.com.  That site is a gold mine for chromatic harmonica.  Use the search and you can probably get any question of yours answered.  G is a popular key for chromatic, C is the  most popular of course.  Tuning is a big subject at slidemeister, many do not use the Solo tuning chromatics are usually tuned to.  Also, I have used Tinus Koorn's overblow.com site for the chromatic charts, that has save me a lot of time.  Tinus used to be a frequent player here.  I have used both square and round holes, I greatly prefer round.  Good players seem to be fine with either.

ShufflinPaul

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Re: Chromatic Vs Diatonic
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2018, 11:20:07 PM »
BIG help!! Slidemeister.com.. Thank you so very much. Now I am going to go shopping for a Chrome

Thanks again,

Paul

Matt

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Re: Chromatic Vs Diatonic
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2018, 01:53:30 AM »
I haven't tried a round-hole chromo, I have the working man's Hohner Super Chromonica. Other good players I know have said the round hole design is a bit better. I think the 'mouthpiece' (shape of the harp cover plates) on some modern chromos seem to be more ergonomic and comfortable than the classic design like the one I have. Have fun shopping for your new weapon of choice.

Matt

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Re: Chromatic Vs Diatonic
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2018, 09:13:55 AM »
Recent video by Ronnie Shellist might be useful:

https://youtu.be/DH092ltLYwM