Posted by Jeremy Steinberg on January 24, 2003 at 17:15:33:
In Reply to: need help with chromatic posted by Jimmy K on January 24, 2003 at 14:49:03:
: I recently read a message on this board about buy ing a chromatic. i am new at the harp and wondering if a chromatic would help me learn any faster. i have a lot of spare time to mess with the one i have. i have learned alot from this site and still learning more. it's was said that the chromatic would open new doors for dirrerent styles,tones,sound. it would seem to me that would make sence. AM I WRONG????
: thanks for the input... Jimmy K
Hello Jimmy -
A chromatic harmonica will definitely open new doors in terms of tone, technique, size, style, etc. It is also a more complicated instrument in some ways - because of the slide, and the fact that a chromatic harp offers the 12 note chromatic scale, where your typical diatonic harp (what you've been playing on) has an 8 note diatonic scale (assuming you can't do overblows, full step bends, etc).
It is typically harder to bend chromatic reeds, than it is diatonic reeds, though you can do it. Some very good chromatic harmonica players to listen to, are Toots Thielemans (primarily jazz), Tommy Morgan (all kinds of music), Dave McKelvey (popular, blues, etc.), Carey Bell (blues), Paul Delay (blues, funk), William Clark (blues), Pete Pederson and Ron Kalina (jazz), etc. Even Larry Adler for classical!
Most chromatics are either 3 octave, or 4 octave. Hohner, Hering, Suzuki, and Huang are some of the manufacturers. I llike 4-octave chromatics, because of the extra range. My favorite off-the-shelf chromatic is a Hohner Super 64x with the lucite comb and black cover plates. They run nearly $200. But others like the Hering, and the others. Different folks, different strokes...
A chromatic will probably open up - expand - your thinking about melody if you've been playing strictly diatonic. The 12 note scale encourages more melodic variation, and complexity. And the size difference will make the diatonic feel small in contrast - especially for the 4-octave Hohner - about 7" long and 1" high. And the diatonic will influence how you play the chromatic. Bends, hand cupping (it can be done partially), acoustic hand effects are possible.
So, in short, definitely try one! Learn the chromatic scale and practice it. Just like the diatonic - practice, persistence, and patience!
Good luck! Regards, Jeremy c/o JSteinberg@ucwphilly.rr.com
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