Re: Which Key

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Posted by Jeremy Steinberg on December 10, 2002 at 07:04:06:

In Reply to: Which Key posted by aaron on December 09, 2002 at 22:11:41:

: I have been playing my C Harp for aboput 6 months now and have the opportunity to play for the first time with a band for a few blues tunes. The first song they want me to play is in the Key B minor. What key of harp should I have to play in 2nd position with the band in B minor?

I assume this is a diatonic harp, like a marine band, or LO. If so, and you want to play on stage, you should have AT LEAST all 7 major keys - G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F. Minor keys would also be nice, but not quite as important. Why? The chances that the band will play any song in the one key harp (C) you have aren't very good. If it's a chromatic, much easier to change keys, because of the chromatic scale.

Another idea - if you're Howard Levy (master of overblows, overdraws, chromatic playing on diatonic harp), then you can probably find the one position (of 12 diatonic positions) to harmonize with the band, in the mood of the song they're playing. BUT, your best best is to find the few notes that you can still play with control on your C harp, and, assuming some are low hole draw notes (up to and including hole 6 or 7), or high note blow notes (6 and up), bend the hell out of them with limited runs.

Butterfield is famous for picking certain reeds (draw 2-3-4) and bending the heck out of them for effect. He didn't worry about the kind of incendiary complicated runs that Levy, Sugar Blue, Madcat, etc. do. He was more interested in the 'bluesy' feeling and tone, and just emphasized the tonics over and over again - and it was very effective.

But again, if you're going to do this alot, go get all major diatonic keys, so you're better prepared for whatever key the band you jam with next uses! Good luck! Regards, Jeremy

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