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Any news?

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:36 am
by Lizzy
Whats up Brendan...what are you working on that you want to share right now?

Re: Any news?

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:52 am
by Brendan
Thanks for asking Lizzie. There are a few main areas I'm focussing on right now:

I'm preparing to make some new instructional material (videos, books etc). A primary element of such material is music notation with associated harmonica tablature. In order to generate the tab automatically, the notation needs to be in the form of a MIDI file.

Since I don't read music myself, in the past I've had to input the notation note by note with a mouse - a slow and laborious process! I wanted to avoid doing that, so looked into how to play the music live and record MIDI at the same time. There are two main ways to do it: use an audio-to-MIDI converter, or record with a MIDI instrument.

For the first approach you just play the stuff you want notated on your harmonica, and then some software converts the audio file (mp3, wave etc) to MIDI. Sounds great in theory, but in practice I discovered all of the software offerings gave very imperfect results in various degrees, requiring a lot of time spent cleaning up the notation later. Not my strong suit, and it defeated the purpose of saving time.

Live MIDI recording should be perfect, I thought: just play the MIDI instrument and your notation appears! That was part of the reason I enthusiastically adopted the Lekholm DM48 MIDI harmonica, for just this task.

Hmmm... Not so simple! I played what I thought was cleanly and in time, and then loaded the MIDI file into the software I use for notation and harmonica tab (Myriad's Harmony Assistant). To my dismay it was a big mess, just as with the audio-to-MIDI converters.

It turned out that my expectations were way too high. Even after decades of widespread use in the music industry, live MIDI recording has not yet been optimised to a simple plug-and-play level - even on keyboards! I found it will work, but you have to go through several stages to get the notation looking right. After two weeks of struggle alternatung between the two approaches above I finally learned how to get what I need using the DM48. There is a long thread on this saga in the DM48 forum if you're interested:!top ... N3800FFwq0

Lizzie, you'll be glad to hear I'm turning my attention to this project again! I had two versions on the go: the twin-diatonic type you know of, and another based on a retuned chromatic without a slider. I'm working on both, to see what works out best. That's both in terms of playability, the main criterion, but also with practicability in mind, as an affordable harmonica to sell. It's hard to say at this stage, but one or both will emerge at the end.

Many people have wondered over the course of its history why diatonic harmonicas are not made with multiple small single-reed reedplates, instead of two large reedplates containing multiple reeds. The benefits seem obvious for the player:

1. Fast easy replacement of broken reeds
2. The ability to change tunings quickly and easily

For the manufacturer it could be good too. Instead of having to produce 12 different key harmonicas each with its own specially-made blow and draw reedplates, they could have a small stock of universal reeds on individual plates to cover the full range of keys. 47 reeds would cover all the notes between the lowest conventional harp in G and the high F#.

These reeds can be blow or draw depending on their orientation when put in the harmonica comb. These days you could imagine that process being automated quite easily.

Some manufacturers have tried this approach. The Harmonic Reed Corporation of Philadelphia made a couple of very unusual harmonicas in the 1940s: not only did they have single-reed reedplates, but they were fitted vertically in the comb:

No major harmonica manufacturer has ever gone this route, but single-reed reedplates are widely used in two other free reed instruments: the concertina and the harmonium. If they work there, why not in harmonicas? Inspired by these examples, I've decided to have a crack at this old idea myself, either with sliced-up harmonica reedplates or concertina/harmonium type reeds.

Still in the cogitating phase on this project. It requires designing a special comb for a start; will report back once I've done some testing.

Re: Any news?

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:16 am
by Lizzy
Im glad that you are working on it again... I think its close to a year since you first announced it so it is good news for me :D . Unibender/X-reed- "retuned chromatic without a slider"....a direction to the discontinued ChromaBender? :roll:
So far the advantage to unibender is that its adaptable to many brands and is easy to shift to many tunings fast. But the playability and how expressive you can be with it is probably most important.Price and maintenance is also another issue. But i believe in the x-reed concept because so far its the only concept that dont need or require any attachment (slider etc.) that need any kind of external extra movement. Its all in the mouth without any risk to disrupt the breath or flow.

Re: Any news?

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:02 pm
by Brendan
I made a prototype of the single-reed reedplate harmonica today, using some concertina-type reeds sent to me by a friend (see photos).

Sounds OK as-is, but it needs valving to work properly. Because the reeds are larger than normal harmonica reeds, there is a bigger gap around them for air to escape without valves/windsavers. I've tried blanking off the odd reed for testing and suddenly the sound and tone are much better. Will do that and give it a test run.

Re: Any news?

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:06 pm
by Brendan
Hmmm... photos are not showing, will come back on this.

Re: Any news?

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:17 pm
by Lizzy
THE UNI-BENDER X-REED HARMONICA....Yeah...Why dont do both of them?

Re: Any news?

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:39 pm
by Brendan
Here are some photos of the modular-reed harmonica prototype.

Re: Any news?

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:00 am
by triona
Looks like all blow reeds on both sides?

I think I have seen something once before. It is even not very long ago. But I cannot remember where at the moment. At least there is no serial production or has been at any time. I had been thinking some times that this maybe could be a good idea. For the manufacturer it might cut down the costs of stock, but might enlarge the effort of assembly. You used at least 44 screws for this one, not counted those for the covers. Seems to me like a typical product for customizers and not for mass production.

dear greetings

Re: Any news?

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:42 am
by Lizzy
Maybe im not right on this but i always get reserved when using multiple interchangeable parts in a harmonica. In the past i have experienced that more parts generates more errors. I also consider if its going to be too expensive in the end for regular customers.

Re: Any news?

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:32 am
by CrawfordEs
If the comb can be simplified and printed with maybe a bar to hold the plates down and the plates can be produced in bulk at the required frequency I would think this would be a very flexible method. Just buy the comb and the plates and then mix and match at will. It would be a lot of fun and simplify experimenting.
Although why anyone would want to tinker around and not just play with off the shelf harps I just don’t understand. ;)