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.
EdvinW
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Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by EdvinW » Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:10 am

Piro39 wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 11:42 pm
My diagram went out of alignment when I posted it. I hope it didn't create confusion.
Welcome to the forum! I sent you a private message on how to make your tuning align nicer, it should be visible if you log in :)
Edvin Wedin

Malarz
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Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Malarz » Wed Sep 30, 2020 1:24 pm

Thanks to all for taking time to post your thoughts and advice. I have never tuned reeds so this might be a good time to learn how to using one or two of the harps I have sitting in the box.

@Piro39 I want to understand this correctly that I should retune a G harp (not a G minor harp) based on your directions in the latter part of your message, correct? ½ step retunings shouldn’t be too difficult if I use a light touch on the reeds.

Thanks again to all and I welcome any more thoughts you might have.

Ken

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Brendan
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Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Brendan » Wed Sep 30, 2020 1:58 pm

BALKAN and MIDDLE EASTERN SCALES on DIATONIC HARMONICA

This is an interesting area that's been explored by only a few players (Roland von Straaten and Howard Levy come to mind), but they used standard Richter harps. There's a lot of scope for optimising the expressive feel of this wonderful music using alternate tunings.

Personally I think regular repeating-scale tunings (where the scale is the same in every octave) are better for Hijaz than the likes of Richter, PowerBender etc, which have a different blow-draw pattern in each octave. They can certainly be used of course, but it's less confusing if you can use the same moves/breath patterns in each octave.

HIJAZ SCALES in POWER-CHROMATIC TUNING
As noted, PowerChromatic gives some good options for Hijaz, without requiring overblows. Using an L13 PC in G for explanation, the harmonica tuning is:

Code: Select all

BLOW	G	A	C	E	G	A	C	E	G	A	C	E	G
HOLE	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10	11	12	13
DRAW	A	B	D	F#	A	B	D	F#	A	B	D	F#	A
Five positions will work nicely for Hijaz, each with their own flavour. Here are one octave breath patterns in each position (-> represents a hole shift):

3rd POSITION (A root, starting holes 1/5/9):
draw -> drawbend -> blow/drawbend -> blow/drawbend -> blow/draw.

4TH POSITION (E root, starting blow 4/8):
blow/drawbend -> drawbend/draw -> draw -> blow/draw -> blow.

(You can substitute the blow A in the adjacent hole (holes 2/6/10 blow) in these positions, which can be handy).

6th POSITION (F# root, starting 4/8 draw):
draw -> blow -> drawbend/draw -> drawbend/draw -> blow/draw.

7th POSITION (C# root, starting holes 3/7 drawbend:
drawbend/draw -> drawbend/draw -> drawbend/draw -> draw -> drawbend.

12th POSITION (C Root, starting blow 3/7):
blow/drawbend -> blow/drawbend -> blow/drawbend -> drawbend -> blow.

Edvin showed earlier the variation of PowerChromatic tuning I've used on half-valved chroms for some Balkan tunes in Hijaz. In this case I retuned a PowerChromatic chrom in G, playing with a D root, where the E blow note is lowered to D#. It's good for fast play and slide decorations because only one bend is needed in the slide-out position, for the flat 6th note (Bb).

However, with the slider in, you get a cool alternate version of the scale using all draw notes and bends. I use both versions in my tune "Sweet Bulgarity", which is mostly in Hijaz:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dieELP-5AIg

The intro and the middle section are played with slide-in style. You can hear the switch-over from slide-out style in the 4th part of the tune, playing the same notes but with different feeling, at 2:04. After some rhythm playing the slide-in style resumes at 2:30 and lasts till 3:08.

The reason it works is because the slide-in notes are actually the same as they would be for a standard PowerChromatic half-valved chromatic in G with the slide pushed in. Thus in the video, when playing slide-in position, essentially I'm playing a G# diatonic harp in PowerChromatic tuning, with the root in D. (On a Lucky 13 G PowerChromatic it will come out in C#, as shown above).

This is exactly the expressive 7th Position sound that Edvin mentioned earlier... :)

All of the positions above have their good points, but probably 7th Position is the most 'Middle Eastern' sounding.

Gerhard62
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Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Gerhard62 » Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:22 pm

Gerhard62 wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:33 pm
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
Nobody seems to see my little tuning variation - isn't this useful for that kind of music? I use it for harmonic minor with 3 blow as root note in hole 1 e.g. in a harmonic minor.

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Brendan
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Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Brendan » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:22 pm

Sorry Gerhard! I assume this is a tuning that repeats every 5th hole (like Diminished-tuned, Solo, PowerChromatic etc)? That is indeed a nice tuning variation which I don't think we've seen before. Edvin has the sharpest eye for that kind of thing.

It's the same as the one I used for Sweet Bulgarity, except for hole 4. I have A-B there, you have Bb-C. Both will work well for Hijaz starting on the D draw note, but yours requires no bends. For the player who can't bend, or prefers not to, it is better 👍

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Brendan
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Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Brendan » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:26 pm

Piro39: I'd love to hear some music you're playing on your Hijaz harps. Do you have any you'd like to share?

EdvinW
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Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by EdvinW » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:10 pm

Thank you Brendan for your generous and detailed exposition of Hijaz scales on PowerBender!

For 7th position play, the patterns for a Hijaz scale co inside for two octaves if you count a one step bend in holes 2 and 3 in a PowerBender the same as the bends in a PowerChromatic. At least I think the octaves feel rather similar, but maybe that's only me.

Gerhard: Like Brendan says, your tuning is very similar to his, and it's hard to say one is objectively better than the other. It looks nice :) I've never seen it before, but it makes sense as a variation of another tuning which I talked about in another post, which I call PowerBender's Sharp Sister. It looks like this

Code: Select all

C  E  G  Bb C  E  G  Bb
D  F# A  C  D  F# A  C
Like the PowerBender, every hole has a two note difference between blow and draw and all notes but one are available with bends. If we would call Brendan's tuning a Balkan PowerChromatic yours could be a Balkan Sharp Sister, as both variations fill the missing note by lowering the above. Do you have some name for it?

Just like the standard PowerChromatic, the unaltered Sharp Sister can be used to play the Hijaz scale in the 7th position way. This is also true for a tuning called Inverted Bebop which I think Partick (IaNerd here on the forum) uses (or used?).

Gerhard and Prio39: I second Brendan in that it would be nice to hear your Hijaz harps if have something you would like to share :)
Last edited by EdvinW on Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
Edvin Wedin

Gerhard62
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Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Gerhard62 » Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:01 pm

Brendan wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:22 pm
Sorry Gerhard! I assume this is a tuning that repeats every 5th hole (like Diminished-tuned, Solo, PowerChromatic etc)? That is indeed a nice tuning variation which I don't think we've seen before. Edvin has the sharpest eye for that kind of thing.

It's the same as the one I used for Sweet Bulgarity, except for hole 4. I have A-B there, you have Bb-C. Both will work well for Hijaz starting on the D draw note, but yours requires no bends. For the player who can't bend, or prefers not to, it is better 👍
Thanks, Brendan, and yes your tuning is nice, too. I use Bb-C not because I don't want to bend but because I can so reach the Cb and the tuning is so completely chromatic.

Gerhard62
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Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Gerhard62 » Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:08 pm

EdvinW wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:10 pm
Gerhard: Like Brendan says, your tuning is very similar to his, and it's hard to say one is objectively better than the other. It looks nice :) I've never seen it before, but it makes sense as a variation of another tuning which I talked about in another post, which I call PowerBender's Sharp Sister. It looks like this
C E G Bb C E G Bb
D F# A C D F# A C
Like the PowerBender, every hole has a two note difference between blow and draw and all notes but one are available with bends. If we would call Brendan's tuning a Balkan PowerChromatic yours could be a Balkan Sharp Sister, as both variations fill the missing note by lowering the above. Do you have some name for it?

Just like the standard PowerChromatic, the unaltered Sharp Sister can be used to play the Hijaz scale in the 7th position way. This is also true for a tuning called Inverted Bebop which I think Partick (IaNerd here on the forum) uses (or used?).
My tuning in this thread is just a variation because it has the root note for the hijaz scale. I found the basic tuning in one of your interesting threads viewtopic.php?f=9&t=249&start=10#p1702
So it is not my invention and I'm not the right guy to give him a name. I use it with the root note for the harmonic minor scale and play some greek and klezmer tunes on an a minor and d minor harp with this tuning. It is completely chromatic so I hope to be able to play somedays more complicated klezmer tunes with many and various ## and bb ;)

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Brendan
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Re: Balkan tunes and tuning

Post by Brendan » Thu Oct 01, 2020 11:16 am

EDVIN: I thought Gerhard's tuning looked a little familiar: just one note different from your 'Sharp Sister'! But it's those tiny variations that can make a big difference, especially for giving fluency in certain styles. In this case, it's a critical one for playing the Hijaz scale starting on D.

GERHARD: both of our tunings with the same pattern in the first 3 holes (CD - EbF# - GA) are fully chromatic with draw bends alone.

YOURS (bends shown in lower case):
C c# D -> Eb e f F# -> G g# A -> Bb b C -> (C)

MINE (a# substitutes for lower case Bb (bb), which looks awkward!):
C c# D -> Eb e f F# -> G g# A -> (A) a# B -> C

I did explore playing my version for a while as an alternative to PowerChromatic, to use as a fully chromatic diatonic harp with draw bends alone. However I found distinguishing between the semitone and wholetone bends in hole 2 with accurate pitch at higher speeds was problematic. Despite practice I found it too hit and miss, especially in the higher octaves. In the end I wasn't satisfied with the practicality of playing accurately in tune, in all styles and tempos, to retain it as a preferred general tuning for wide use.

As a result (aside from special cases like 'Sweet Bulgarity' or other Balkan/Middle Eastern tunes that especially suit the alteration), I stuck with standard PowerChromatic for most playing. Since I generally use it on half-valved slider chromatics, I could easily get the Eb note with a slide push.

If I'm playing PowerChromatic on the Lucky 13, I generally choose positions that avoid use of that note - easy enough to do! However when needed on a diatonic it can be got with a valved blow bend, or (unvalved) with an overblow. Other ways would be with a SlipSlider or X-Reed harmonica version.

However Gerhard, it sounds as if you have EMBRACED the double bend in hole 2 for playing fully chromatically on a diatonic with your tuning. That sounds interesting! I'd love to hear what stuff you're playing with this scale, if you feel like sharing a recording or two 🙂

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