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Twelve-hole slide harp with three chromatic octaves and 18 different chords

Posted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:05 pm
by IaNerd
NAME: Not yet sure. Thinking about “Goldschmidt/Sowards Tuning”.

We often hear something like this: “Slide/chromatic harps are for melodies, and diatonic harps are for melodies and/or chordal harmony”. Of course there are wide exceptions, such as the Suzuki SSCH-56 Chord 56 model. But this is an “exception that proves the rule”.

For chromatic playing we have traditionally been arranging the twelve semitones of an octave among four banks or “layers” of reeds, and these four banks are paired into two reed plates—upper and lower. Sometimes this involves having some notes of the chromatic scale repeated within an octave. Sometimes not. Either way, it is hard to arrange for a significant lineup of useful chords into the slide harp platform. Until now ….

In the following model, the twelve semitones of an octave will be arranged among THREE, not four of the reed banks. When doing this, two things happen (due to the fact that 4 x 3 = 3 x 4 = 12). First, the twelve semitones can now be arranged into four channels/holes, with three semitones per channel. (This assumes no missing semitones and no repeated semitones.) Second, we have now freed up an entire bank of twelve reeds, and this layer can be dedicated to an independently operating group of chords based on Spiral/Circular/Zirkular/Helical tuning. The result is a 12-hole harp that is fully chromatic across three full octaves, and which has eighteen different chords overall.

WHEN/HOW: September of 2017. I have not yet have one made. I haven’t yet tried laying this out in Seydel’s Configurator, but my guess is that it would fit just fine.

Thinking in terms of the harp having four banks/layers of reeds, I will present the basic model with this specific example:

Layer for Slide-In Blow: C#dim7 chord, repeat, repeat.
Layer for Slide-In Draw: One half (i.e. either upper or lower reeds) of Spiral/Circular/Zirkular/Helical tuning. In this example, we have: C – E – G – B – D – F – A, repeat.
Layer for the Slide-Out Blow: Cdim7 chord, repeat, repeat.
Layer for the Slide-Out Draw: Dmin7 chord, repeat, repeat.

A. The chord layer can move like a rook in chess. In the given diagram, the chord layer is in the Slide In Draw position. But it could occupy any of the other three positions. In other words, the entire layer could be shifted up or down with respect to the other three layers.
B. The chord layer could be based on any key. In the given diagram, the chord layer has a progression based on the Cmaj scale (i.e. every other note). This gives the chordal capabilities of this harp an overall Cmaj character. But many other circular progressions are possible.
C. Like the rook, the chord layer could also be shifted right or left within a given layer. In the given diagram, the chord layer begins in channel one with a C tone. But the beginning tone could be any of those within the chord layer’s chosen diatonic scale.
D. The absolute and relative positions of the “notes” layers can also be manipulated. Once (and wherever) the chord layer has been placed, there will then remain six possible sets of vertical placements for the “notes” layers. In terms of each layer’s beginning notes (i.e., in channel one), these relative placements are:
a. C#/C/D (This is the example shown in the diagram.)
b. C#/D/C
c. C/C#/D
d. C/D/C#
e. D/C/C#
f. D/C#/D

Each of these patterns results in a unique blow-draw-slide pattern when playing up and down the harp. Players may differ as to which pattern is optimal.

E. The absolute and relative positions of the “notes” layers could also be shifted horizontally. Cases could be made for shifting the C layer one channel to the left relative to the other two layers, or for moving the D layer one channel to the right relative to the other two layers. I wouldn’t, but some might.

F. Observe that the two “notes” layers which end up sharing space on one reed plate might or might not result in the bendability of that plate’s draw notes. Along with consideration of blow-draw-slide patterns, the bendability of notes would also likely be an important factor in setting up the exact tuning layout of the harp.

My music theory is wobbly. This is particularly evident when I try to name 6th and 7th chords. It is likely that I have incorrectly named some of the chords in the diagram below. I’m also not certain at this time how many types of chords are in this tuning. My current guess is eighteen, but that may well change as I get a better handle on what the chords actually are. Please feel free to pm me about specific errors. I will try to fix problems as soon as I can.


Re: Twelve-hole slide harp with three chromatic octaves and 18 different chords

Posted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:56 pm
by IaNerd
So sorry. Just noticed that I omitted F# three times. I'll try to fix it all tomorrow. I am certain that the the error is not catastrophic to the model.

Re: Twelve-hole slide harp with three chromatic octaves and 18 different chords

Posted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:43 pm
by IaNerd
Just now I replaced the original diagram with a corrected diagram. I updated and corrected some small things in the body of the original post.

I have not yet made a careful tally of the types of chords.

Re: Twelve-hole slide harp with three chromatic octaves and 18 different chords

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:36 pm
by Brendan
@IaNerd: Your tuning scheme makes logical sense, but not practical sense if it is to be made from standard chromatic reedplates. The low octave will sound good for a chord harmonica, but not the top two octaves.

An alternative would be to have a slide chord harmonica that has repeating low ranges in the reedplates. The Suzuki SSCH-56 has this built in. However it would require extensive retuning to achieve your scale.

Another idea is to use my Switch-Harp with appropriate diatonic harmonica reedplates set in behind. One could cut up reedplates from several harps, using only the lower 4-5 holes of each, attach them to a couple of suitably-designed combs and use the slider to select between them. On a 10 hole harp one could repeat the low 5 holes from 4 harmonicas.

For example, if you left the Richter tuning unchanged, you could have holes 1-5 of:

Low C harp (C & G chords)
Low Bb harp (Bb & F chords)
Low D harp (D & A chords)
Low E harp (E & B chords)

These are all major, but thirds could be flattened to make some of them minor. Or you could be more creative with tunings to pack more chords in. My Lucky 13 Switch-harp would give even more scope for such a modified chord harp made of cut-up 10-hole reedplates.

It would be some work cutting up the reedplates but pretty straightforward after that, as long as the combs are suitably designed to take the truncated reedplates.

A straightforward though more cumbersome version would be two use 4 Seydel Big Sixes mounted on a couple of combs. In response to your request I did design such a Big Six combo comb. Just for fun I've designed a mouthpiece/sliderSwitch-Harp front unit to take a couple of these, should be able to show a photo tomorrow. The good thing about these is that Seydel will allow you to tune them as you please in their Configurator, so you could have all that done for you.

Thse might offer you some ways to conceive of chord harmonicas that stay in a good range throughout.

Re: Twelve-hole slide harp with three chromatic octaves and 18 different chords

Posted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:58 am
by IaNerd
Brendan-- Lots to think about. Thanks for the feedback!

Re: Twelve-hole slide harp with three chromatic octaves and 18 different chords

Posted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:18 pm
by IaNerd
I think I have solved the problem that Brendan has pointed out. Part of the solution is his suggestion to use side-by-side Big Sixes, so that the "chord layer" doesn't become too high in pitch towards the right end of the harp. And so I offer this: