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Power Chromatic

Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:39 pm
by Gnarly
Hi everyone,
I want to hear from players who are using this tuning. Do you mostly play in the key of the tuning (the major scale) or mixolydian (the key of the draw chord)?
I use it in both, as well as the Dorian mode (relative minor of the blow chord).
I know there is at least one chromatic player using this tuning (Ed Coogan).
Thanks to Brendan for the tuning, and all the rest, including creating this Forum!

Re: Power Chromatic

Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:52 pm
by Brendan
Thanks Gary, a similarly afflicted alt tunings junkie like myself. Though you have it worse, I think... ;)

PowerChromatic is designed for half-valved setup, as it allows semitone bends on all draw notes for easy chromatic playing with bends.

I often use half-valved PowerChromatic in the Mixolydian position, but find it's great in many other positions as well. If the base scale is C, in frequency of use I'd play in G, Em, C, Am, F, Dm, Bb, Gm, Eb, Cm... And of course you just push the slide in to get all of those keys a semitone up :-)

Here's a tune illustrating that and the chromatic bending ability in the Mixolydian position with slide out and in (A and Bb on a D PowerChromatic):


Re: Power Chromatic

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 4:49 pm
by Al Price
I've been using this tuning for a year or so now. Up until i got intae it my chrom playing was pretty poor. The power tuning really kicked the doors open for me on chrom. Here's a bit of a noodle what i did a while ago. I looped some moothies tae make a kinda brass section thing. Still a long wae to go, but i'm getting there.

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Re: Power Chromatic - also Left-Handed Chromatics

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:20 pm
by Brendan
Nice one :)

I see you're left-handed playing a standard right-handed chrom. Was it strange/annoying having to learn that way, with low notes on the right?

Last year I created a bunch of left-handed combs for various chromatic models, including the CX-12:

They allow left-handed players to play with the high notes at the right, as is normal, but slide button at the left. I thought lefties would be overjoyed at finally being able to play their favourite chroms left-handed, but to my surprise there have been ZERO orders!

Considering 12% of the population is left-handed that has been surprising and, I must admit, a little disappointing after all the work it took to design and make these combs. But I guess left-handed players have got so used to adapating to right-handed chroms that it would take a lot of un-learning for them to play a true left-handed one.

Just shows I should have done some market research first, I guess!

Re: Power Chromatic

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 6:24 pm
by Al Price
Hi Brendan. Thanks.

I'm actually right handed. I seem to remember that when i started tae play having the low notes tae the right just felt right. I may have favoured my right hand to hold the harp and mic because it was my strongest side.. maybe? I tend tae think of it as upside down rather than left handed.

As far as learning i'm an ear player and really just learnt by listening and copying people i admired. Saying that the mental image in my head when i play was always low notes tae the right. The movement from right tae left feels logical tae me.

Pity about your combs though. I'm sure there must be a few players out there who would love them.

Other upsidedowners...Paul Butterfield, James Cotton, William Clarke and Lee Sankey. No bad company there.

Is there any technical drawback from playing upside down? Always wondered about that.

Aha! Just checked out the combs. Man what a clever idea.

Re: Power Chromatic

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:43 am
by Nidalap

The Power Chromatic tuning has been my main harmonica tuning for more than 6 years, I use it for almost everything I play, including Irish, Blues, Folk, and Jazz standards in whatever key. This tuning is capable for playing in all 12 keys, and it is fun to learn them if the music you play needs them.

I've found some interesting positions that suits it well, one of the most interesting tunes I've played is "Jovano, Jovanke" which I learned from Howard Levy(of course he uses the diatonic harp in standard tuning):

I used a Power Chromatic harp in the key of A.


Re: Power Chromatic

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:03 am
by Brendan
Wow, loving that sound Yeong-shiang! You are really using the bends on the half-valved PowerChromatic well :-)

Re: Power Chromatic

Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:56 pm
by jasonrogers
HI Nidalap,

Very nice playing of the half-valved! Is it based on a CX-12?


Re: Power Chromatic

Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:15 am
by Nidalap
Thanks Brendan and Jason!

The harmonica I used was a Hohner 270 classic which I retuned from a stock A harp.

I used it again in another tune "Sunshine on Tashkurgan", Same A harp at the beginning, and switched to D harp at 2m43s, both in Power Chromatic tuning. Here is the link: Not so much half-valved bends, used only occasionally as decorations and expressions.

I think the half-valved Power Chromatic tuning is an upgrade of the standard chromatic harp, it can do better in almost every aspect, and every chromatic harp player should give a try, whichever genre he or she focuses on. I love it when it has a traditional sound on classical and folk tunes, I also love it when it sounds so much like a blues harp when playing blues and ethnic tunes, I use it for almost every music I play.

Nidalap :D~

Re: Power Chromatic

Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:38 am
by EugeneRyan

Really nice playing on the half-valved PC (PowerChromatic) tuned harp! It's a very good case for this tuning, along with Brendan's history and recorded output on the tuning. Really good to hear you.

Also, it's interesting that you have gotten some stuff form Howard too - also an excellent influence.