PowerChromatic realization

A space for players interested in my specialist harmonicas, alternate tunings, instructional material, recordings etc to ask questions and share information, experiences, videos etc.
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Re: PowerChromatic realization

Post by Brendan » Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:44 am

Reeds only fail as a result of bending if you bend past the note you're after and go very flat, to the floor of the bend. Doing that over and over can strain the reed to breaking point.

If you bend in tune, the reeds will last indefinitely, as others have stated.

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Re: PowerChromatic realization

Post by EdvinW » Tue Jun 25, 2019 5:21 pm

Brendan wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 1:43 am
David: yes, I was talking about a PowerChromatic in G, starting on A blow:

AB. CD. EF#. GA. etc

That's an interesting grading system Edvin. What are your criteria for 'good' and 'very good'?

I'm assuming you mean something like 'ease of playing' or 'flow'. Here's a video of a PowerChromatic in G going through all 12 keys:


How do the keys as played here match up with your grading system?
The main point of my last post, which I admittedly might have made a bad job getting through, was not to grade the different positions of the PowerChromatic. My experience with PowerChromatic is limited to diatonics with very similar tuning and a DM48, and with the bending limitations of the latter and the lack of a button on the former any attempted grading done by me will surely be biased in a way which aligns badly with that of other players of this tuning.

For a given tuning, each player will have her favourite positions, and the choice will depend on different criteria such as double-stops/chords, bendability of certain notes, perceived flow of notes etc. Ideally, each player should grab a harmonica, go through the keys and make a personal grading chart.

Using the circle of fifths neighbouring keys are often of comparable playability, and it's easy to see how to transpose the instrument to cover a desired set of keys. This way of moving patterns based on personal preferences around in a list of keys are the main thing I want to get through: Making up a grading system is more important than precisely what it looks like, and when varying the criteria used one gets different tables. For each key this clearly lets you see whether or not it will play satisfactorily on at least some harp in the set.

And yes, playability and flow are definitely important to me, but I also value room for bending for ornamentation on important motes. When playing diatonic, I sometimes use a modification of PowerChromatic, with the 'c' raised to a 'c#'. For a regular-breath period-four tuning you'll have a set of four draw notes which to some extent are bendable, and in the key of D I find 'd', 'f#', 'a' and 'g' to be the most expressive such set of notes for a large number of tunes. (I think quick clean access to the 'c#' is worth only having a half step bending gap for the 'd')

For the reasons just mentioned, I think the key of Eb looks most interesting to me, or D if using a flat slide. This would leave a full note bending gap on all four notes mentioned above, and quick clean access to the seventh. The key of G requires no tricky sliding except for accidentals or ornaments, and is overall very "playable". The set of bendable notes are not as good as that of D, but still OK; after all, variating patterns leaves you some room to choose the best one for tunes with special needs :) I'll also admit to overlooking the key of Ab. Though in most respects it's identical to the key of G, I personally think it looks even better since it, like the key of Eb, has the seventh located more comfortably using the slide. I could go on about all the other keys, but this has grown too long already.

In the video, you make really clear the usefulness of bends for a skilled player like yourself. My bends are getting much better than they were, and I use them for accidentals quite a lot. Soon, I might be confident enough to start using tunings that rely on bends to produce the basic scale I want to use, but not yet. It's not that I can't make them, but that the deviation in frequency, even if slight, and the difference in tonal quality from the other notes just makes the music markedly less beautiful, especially when playing quicker passages, and thus less enjoyable to play. Material such as this video surely motivates me to practice my bending even more though :)

PS. Brendan: Speaking of tunings for chromatics, I sent you a pm a while back, which I'm not sure you've seen. Any short answer would be much appreciated!
Edvin Wedin

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