Balkan tunes and tuning

A space for players interested in my specialist harmonicas, alternate tunings, instructional material, recordings etc to ask questions and share information, experiences, videos etc.
Malarz
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Nov 29, 2019 6:00 pm

Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Malarz » Sun Sep 27, 2020 1:45 pm

I’m getting interested in Balkan tunes which use the “Hijaz” mode/scale in D: D Eb F# G A Bb C D. Its not quite a diminished scale. I could play this on chromatic but are there any other altered tunings of harmonicas that might make it possible on diatonic?

Also, any recommend recordings of someone playing Balkan tunes on harmonica?
Thanks.

Ken

EdvinW
Posts: 175
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:02 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by EdvinW » Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:52 pm

Malarz wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 1:45 pm
I’m getting interested in Balkan tunes which use the “Hijaz” mode/scale in D: D Eb F# G A Bb C D. Its not quite a diminished scale. I could play this on chromatic but are there any other altered tunings of harmonicas that might make it possible on diatonic?

Also, any recommend recordings of someone playing Balkan tunes on harmonica?
Thanks.

Ken
I don't know anything about Balkan music, but I do use this scale frequently when playing around in Powerbender tuning. I'll try to make a recording tonight!
Edvin Wedin

Gerhard62
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:16 pm

Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Gerhard62 » Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:33 pm

Malarz wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 1:45 pm
I’m getting interested in Balkan tunes which use the “Hijaz” mode/scale in D: D Eb F# G A Bb C D. Its not quite a diminished scale. I could play this on chromatic but are there any other altered tunings of harmonicas that might make it possible on diatonic?

Also, any recommend recordings of someone playing Balkan tunes on harmonica?
Thanks.

Ken
How about a tuning like that:

Code: Select all

C	Eb	G	Bb	C	Eb	G	Bb	C	Eb
1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10
D	F#	A	C	D	F#	A	C	D	G
Full chromatic only with draw bends and the scale without bends?
Or use a G Harmonic Minor harmonica e.g. from Lee Oskar. There are the whole scale inside and it is much cheaper as a customized tuning.
Or you wait for the new Diminished Lucky 13 from Brendan. But then you must use draw bends to play this scale.
Greetings, Gerhard
Last edited by Gerhard62 on Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:17 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Gerhard62
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:16 pm

Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Gerhard62 » Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:41 pm

EdvinW wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:52 pm
I don't know anything about Balkan music, but I do use this scale frequently when playing around in Powerbender tuning. I'll try to make a recording tonight!
What key of the powerbender tuning do you use for exactly this scale?

EdvinW
Posts: 175
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:02 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by EdvinW » Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:48 pm

I threw together some noodling in the Hijaz scale. The sound quality leaves a bit to wish for, but in an attempt to improve from my general reluctance to share recordings I resist the temptation of trying to record it again tomorrow (as I would likely just end up putting it off indefinitely...)

https://cloud.fripost.org/s/acP9SEnKwzQYS7J

It's played in second position on a A tuned Powerbender, with overblows in holes 2, 6, 8 and 9. The resulting key is E. You get all the perks of 2nd position Powerbender: You could bend on the root, third and fifth for ornaments, there is a large major chord at the bottom, and you can bend back and forth between the highest root note and the minor seventh below it.

I play the scale as -2 +2o -3 +4 -4 -5' +6 -6 +6o -7 +8 -8 +8o -9'' -9 9o -10'' -10 (o for overblow). What could count as a drawback is that it uses pretty much all the overblow notes on the PB, so it can't be played on a half valved harp. My harp is paddied (I've raised 3 blow a full step), but as I don't use hole 3 blow or bends the scale can be played the same on a standard PB. If you want to avoid overblows, the lower octave could be played -2 -3''' -3 +4 -4 -5' +6 -6 on a standard PB.
Gerhard62 wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:41 pm
EdvinW wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:52 pm
I don't know anything about Balkan music, but I do use this scale frequently when playing around in Powerbender tuning. I'll try to make a recording tonight!
What key of the powerbender tuning do you use for exactly this scale?
For exactly your scale I would use a Powebender in G.

I'm not necessarily saying second position Powerbender is ideal for playing Balkan music. It's just what I happen to use for this scale, and I've not given much thought to alternatives.
Edvin Wedin

Gerhard62
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:16 pm

Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Gerhard62 » Sun Sep 27, 2020 11:23 pm

EdvinW wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:48 pm
For exactly your scale I would use a Powebender in G.

I'm not necessarily saying second position Powerbender is ideal for playing Balkan music. It's just what I happen to use for this scale, and I've not given much thought to alternatives.
What do you think about a Powerbender in F third position? If I think right it must be possible to play this scale only with drawbends in each octave. Right?

EdvinW
Posts: 175
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:02 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by EdvinW » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:05 am

If you want to avoid overblows altogether, there are only two keys of powerbender that play a full Hijaz scale: F and Ab.
(Edit: I messed up the keys. Should be correct now!)

Doing it on an F harp is absolutely possible, but I'm not sure I would like it on a standard PB. In the lowest octave the scale would start -3'' -3' +4. Not only is -3'' hard to hit cleanly and reliably, but alternating between that and -3' would make this impossible, at least for me with my limited skills with large bends. I suppose a skilled bender could do it. With a standard F harp the top octave would probably be too high to be usable, so a low F might be better, possibly in Paddy PB.

Now playing it on an Ab harp is more interesting! You would be playing in 7th position, which is strange for normal minor or minor scales but suits the Hijaz scale surprisingly well. Try it! It's basically an all draw scale, which is actually very similar in feel to the one I used in my recording: The draws turn into draw bends, and most blows and overblows turn into draws. The scale would look like this: -2'. -2 -3' -3 -4' -4 -5 -6'. -6 -7' -7 -8' -8 +9 -9'. where dots mark the root notes. The tricky part is that most people don't have a Ab Powerbender just laying around... (?)

7th position Hijaz might be one of the nicest scales on the PB I've yet encoutered! Everyone whit access to a Powerbender should try it! :D
Last edited by EdvinW on Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Edvin Wedin

EdvinW
Posts: 175
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:02 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by EdvinW » Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:59 am

Another option would be to use a variation of Power-Crhomatic:

Code: Select all

G  A  C  Eb G  A  C  Eb G  A  C  Eb 
A  B  D  F# A  B  D  F# A  B  D  F#
Brendan has used this for some recordings, at least his tune Sweet Bulgarity, and I remember him saying that he likes it for Balkan music as well. You could buy a Power-Chromatic Lucky 13 in G, and you would only need to retune three reeds. You could even do it with blu-tack to try it out. You only need to bend to get the Bb, your other notes are there. If you want a dedicated harp for this style, this is probably better than the Powerbender.

Edit: After editing my previous post I'm no longer convinced that the above tuning is obviously better than the Powerbender. It would be interesting to hear what other people think!
Edvin Wedin

Piro39
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:44 am

Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Piro39 » Tue Sep 29, 2020 11:37 pm

Malarz The most expedient solution for what you want is get a Lee Oscar Harmonic Minor in G. These are labeled in 1st position and play it in 2nd position (2 hole draw) which will give you the Hijaz scale in D. Hijaz or Phrygian Dominant is the 5th mode of the harmonic minor scale. What I recommend is tune the 3 blow reed up a half step which will give you the second note of the scale D# (Eb). You can get this note in the 3 hole draw 3 half step bend but I prefer to have this note in the 3 hole blow for speed and legato runs. I use this scale a lot and prefer to make my own Hijaz tuned harps from the harp of my choice. I can tell you how to do this if you know how to tune reeds, it is a very easy tuning to make with no drastic tuning alterations. Get a G harp and tune Blow reeds 2,5 and 8 down 1/2 step which will give you the flat 6th Bb. Tune Blow reed 3 up a half step which will give you the flat 2 Eb (D#), tune draw reed 6 and 10 down a half step which will give up the flat 2 Eb(D#) . It is quick and easy if you know how to tune reeds, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Here is the layout G Bb Eb G Bb D G Bb D G Blow reed
A D F# A C Eb F# A C Eb Draw reeds
Draw Bend C Blow bend on 10 for Major 3rd F#
You will find that playing this scale on the diatonic is very different than the chromatic I like to do both. The diatonic is much quicker because of its size.

Piro39
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:44 am

Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Piro39 » Tue Sep 29, 2020 11:42 pm

My diagram went out of alignment when I posted it. I hope it didn't create confusion.

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