First position aeolian natural minor custom tuning.

Anything apart from the two mainstream default harmonicas (Solo-tuned fully-valved chromatic, and un-valved Richter 10-hole diatonic). Alternate tunings, different construction, new functionality, interesting old designs, wishful-thinking... whatever!
User avatar
UdovisDevoh
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:46 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

First position aeolian natural minor custom tuning.

Post by UdovisDevoh » Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:54 pm

Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum.

I recently purchased some Lee Oskar harmonicas. One of them was an A minor (2nd position). I enjoyed it, but I thought it would be fun to play in natual minor on 1st position instead. I heard that harmonica was basically a D minor on first position, but it's not the case.

edit:
When playing in 1st position, it's still has all the notes of A minor (aeolian) but on Dorian mode and with D as root note, so all the notes are still in A minor key.

I decided to buy an E minor (2nd position) labelled as A minor in 1st position (same thing, it's not an A minor harmonica). I looked on the internet for real 1st position natural harmonica but I found none. From what I found, Hohler special 20 natural minor (first position) are basically labelled differently but with the exact same layout as Lee Oskar natural minor.

I still wanted a real 1st position natural minor harmonica. The only way was to use custom tuning (which I never did before), so I took my Em 2nd position and converted it to Am 1st position by lowering the pitch of one semitone on draw 6 and 10.

Is it just me or people often do this? Is this a known alternate tuning or did I invent something I thought would be quite obivious?

Edit: Here are videos showing what it can do:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVlaR_m ... dex=5&t=0s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7LNqXiR4oY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eX4fncfQg0
Last edited by UdovisDevoh on Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:17 pm, edited 5 times in total.

EdvinW
Posts: 110
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:02 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: First position natural minor custom tuning.

Post by EdvinW » Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:49 pm

Hi and welcome! :)

I have never seen or heard about anyone actually tuning a harp like this, and I can't remember giving it any serious thought. (I HAVE heard of people tuning 6 draw of a LO harmonic in the OTHER direction though ;) )

The main reason, I think, is that I have been playing Paddy Richter almost since I first learned to play, and 4th position on a Paddy in the key of C is rather similar to 1st position on your harp. At least in the middle octave. I suppose I did what people always do, and got comfortable. If my trusty old Paddy can deliver all the natural minor melodies I want, why look for alternatives that might be even better in some aspects? I still think I'll stay with my Paddy for this porous, as it has some advantages which are important to me, but your idea is interesting. Let me elaborate.

On a Paddy the minor scale starts at 3 blow, and on yours it starts at 4 blow, but otherwise the melodies look the same. The major G chord that you have on 3-5 draw are even nicer on a Paddy, as you could include an extra 'd' below the root note of the chord if you wish. On the other hand, yours has a nice Em chord instead. (If you find you don't use it that much, retuning 2 draw to a 'd' could allow for some really cool large chord Am/G vamping, but that is IF you don't need the Em.)

The real difference happens in the top of the second octave. While on your harp you can go on using the A minor chord all the way up into the third octave, the blow chords of the Paddy transcend into a C, the major parallel chord of Am. There is also a Dm chord on the Paddy which is sometimes useful. The obvious advantage of this is that you can do more different chord progressions on a Paddy than on yours. The obvious disadvantage is that the Am, which is after all the most important chord, is lacking in all the top half of the harp!

Your tuning buys you Am accompaniment in the full register of the harp, at the cost of most of the other chords present on a Paddy. I can imagine that for many tunes in many styles this exchange makes sense, so I definitely think your tuning is interesting! It complements the Paddy tuning, and switching back and forth between them should not be too hard, maybe even within songs, to allow for greater variation of the chords.

It should also be noted that the note you get from retuning hole 6 could be achieved by bending. For traditions that stay mainly within natural minor, however, I don't see the point of having a note that you always must bend, so I think retuning it is the right choice.

Nice to hear some interest in minor tunings! What kind of music do you use it for?
Last edited by EdvinW on Mon Feb 04, 2019 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
Edvin Wedin

User avatar
UdovisDevoh
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:46 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: First position natural minor custom tuning.

Post by UdovisDevoh » Mon Feb 04, 2019 3:01 pm

I use that custom harp mostly for Irish folk, Canadian folk, American folk, rock and pop, but it is suitable for many other songs with more minor than major chords. It is a very intuitive way of playing minor songs since it is played exactly like a Richter major harmonica, but with minor at the exact same place as major. I believe my custom tuning is more intuitive than common natural minor tuning but maybe it's just more intuitive for me.

I already wanted to try Paddy Richter tuning. After reading your post, I want to try it even more. I'll get some extra harp and I will tune it for it. I already have a Lee Oskar Melody maker which is very close to Paddy Richter, but I believe Paddy Richter will be more intuitive for me since it seems to be more suited for straight harp. Melody Maker seems to be some kind of dorian paddy richter.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge of paddy richter tuning.

EdvinW
Posts: 110
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:02 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: First position natural minor custom tuning.

Post by EdvinW » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:07 am

UdovisDevoh wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 3:01 pm
I use that custom harp mostly for Irish folk, Canadian folk, American folk, rock and pop, but it is suitable for many other songs with more minor than major chords. It is a very intuitive way of playing minor songs since it is played exactly like a Richter major harmonica, but with minor at the exact same place as major. I believe my custom tuning is more intuitive than common natural minor tuning but maybe it's just more intuitive for me.

I already wanted to try Paddy Richter tuning. After reading your post, I want to try it even more. I'll get some extra harp and I will tune it for it. I already have a Lee Oskar Melody maker which is very close to Paddy Richter, but I believe Paddy Richter will be more intuitive for me since it seems to be more suited for straight harp. Melody Maker seems to be some kind of dorian paddy richter.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge of paddy richter tuning.
Both the natural minor and the Melody Maker are intended for cross harp players, and with the overweight of blues players the market says this is where the big brands will be. For these players they are probably more natural than yours, but the majority isn't always right, is it? ;) In first position, they produce a Dorian scale and a Mixolydian scale, respectively, so they can be useful for tunes in those modes. Using a Melody Maker to play minor tunes "Paddy-style" will indeed result in a Dorian scale as well, but by bending 5 draw a natural minor scale could be played as well.

Nice to hear you want to try Paddy Richter! Retuning a Melody maker is just as easy as buying a standard Richter and retuning it, so you could do it either way. One idea would be to make it in the same key as the one you made. That way you could justly compare them, and you could also use them to switch during songs where you want different harmonics
UdovisDevoh wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:54 pm
I recently purchased some Lee Oskar harmonicas. One of them was an A minor (2nd position). I enjoyed it, but I thought it would be fun to play in natural minor on 1st position instead. I heard that harmonica was basically a D minor on first position, but it's not the case.

When playing in 1st position, it's still A minor but on Dorian mode, so all the notes are still in A minor key.

I decided to buy an E minor (2nd position) labelled as A minor in 1st position (same thing, it's not an A minor harmonica). I looked on the internet for real 1st position natural harmonica but I found none. From what I found, Hohler special 20 natural minor (first position) are basically labelled differently but with the exact same layout as Lee Oskar natural minor.

I still wanted a real 1st position natural minor harmonica. The only way was to use custom tuning (which I never did before), so I took my Em 2nd position and converted it to Am 1st position by lowering the pitch of one semitone on draw 6 and 10.
Lee Oskar labelling can be confusing. If the label says Em natural minor, this indeed means Dm Dorian in first position. As for the first harmonica, either you or the vendor must have made some mistake, because if the label says Am natural minor this means that first position is Dm Dorian, just like you heard.
Last edited by EdvinW on Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Edvin Wedin

User avatar
UdovisDevoh
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:46 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: First position natural minor custom tuning.

Post by UdovisDevoh » Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:09 pm

Lee Oskar labelling can be confusing. If the label says Em naturrl minor, this indeed means Dm Dorian in first position. As for the first harmonica, either you or the vendor must have made some mistake
Ok, if what you say is correct, I suppose I was missnaming the scales myself, but my understanding of the scale was correct (the name as wrong thought), then I got the expected result from tuning my harp. (What I called Am dorian was in fact Dm dorian (it's confusing because it has all the same notes as Am aeolian)). Lee Oskar Natual Am is Dm dorian in first position and Am Aeolian in 2nd position. My custom harmonica is Am Aeolian in 1st position (what I wanted in first place but I couldn't find anywhere).
If the label says Am natural minor this means that first position is Dm Dorian, just like you heard.
I only heard it was Dm (so I assumed it was aeolian but it wasn't, and I couldn't find any aeolian 1st position harp).

User avatar
triona
Posts: 204
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 3:24 pm
Location: Aue / Germany

Re: First position natural minor custom tuning.

Post by triona » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:35 pm

EdvinW wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:07 am
Lee Oskar labelling can be confusing.
That is really true in fact. Once I stumbled over this when trying to replace a worn Tombo by a Seydel. There was some fuzz until I got the right one. Same label, but diferent sound. :roll: Eventually I gave the broken one to Seydel to copy the tuning. After all I had 3 harps with different tunings to try along with. :D


dear greetings
triona
Aw, Thou beloved, do hearken to the Banshee's lonely croon!
sinn féin - ça ira !
Cad é sin do'n té sin nach mbaineann sin dó


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1yI3H ... 9ktgzTR2qg

User avatar
UdovisDevoh
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:46 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: First position aeolian natural minor custom tuning.

Post by UdovisDevoh » Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:35 am

I retunined a major diatonic richter to Paddy Richter (it was harder for me to raise the pitch than lowering the pitch). I tried it and played with it. It is very similar to Melody Maker. Melody Maker seems to be a Lydian and Dorian Paddy Richter while Paddy richter is basically a Ionian and Aeolian Melody Maker. Since I like Aeolian and Ionian better, I find more enjoyable to play with Paddy Richter than Melody Maker.

My custom tuning is quite different. It is less versatile than Paddy Richter, but in my opinion, it has a more minor-ish sounding so it's more specialized for songs with more minor chords.

ROBERT TEMPLE
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:49 am

Re: First position aeolian natural minor custom tuning.

Post by ROBERT TEMPLE » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:10 pm

You might be interested to read this article, it describes a lot of what you are shooting for here. Several cool alt-tunings are possible using the various reedplates from L.O. harps. For instance, use an E Melody Maker blowplate over an A major drawplate. Instant Paddy Richter. Enjoy the article, very informative. Cheers !

https://www.patmissin.com/articles/AHN3.html

User avatar
UdovisDevoh
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:46 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: First position aeolian natural minor custom tuning.

Post by UdovisDevoh » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:13 pm

Yes, several custom tunings can be created by combining the blow plate of a custom tuning and the draw plate of another one. Before tuning my harps, I tried to find one but I only found matches for the blow plate. I found no lee oskar draw plate that fits my custom tuning. For creating an Straight Harp Aeolian Minor:

Blow plate:
Either Natural Em or Harmonic Am

Draw plate:
Either Natural Em -1 semitone on 6 and 10
or Harmonic Am -1 semitone on 3 and 7

User avatar
UdovisDevoh
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:46 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: First position aeolian natural minor custom tuning.

Post by UdovisDevoh » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:11 pm

Here's a video of me playing a canadian folk song with that custom tuned harmonica. You can see than I can easily play minor on the highest octave as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVlaR_mwCPc

Post Reply