Diatonic tunings inspired by the Wedin Chromatic

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!
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EdvinW
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Diatonic tunings inspired by the Wedin Chromatic

Post by EdvinW » Fri Sep 17, 2021 2:43 pm

Brendan mentioned using my Wedin Chromatic tuning for diatonics in the other thread, and I thought it might be worth mentioning the diatonic variations I've tried myself. Just FYI :)

The first one is a simple retune of the slide-out notes of my original tuning: flattening 1, 5 and 9 draw, and 4, 8 and 12 blow, each by a half step. If you tune a diatonic to my chromatic tuning, you could easily try this version with blutack. Transposed to D major, it looks like this:

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Blow: A  B  C# D  A  B  C# D
Draw: G  D  E  F# G  D  E  F#
For diatonic play it has several advantages:
  1. All trills but the one between A and G can be produced with a jawflick.
  2. The doubled root note makes many jumps much shorter.
  3. There are double stops that make D and G powerchords.
  4. Both the root, the third and the fifth can be bent, just like cross harp Richter or PowerChromatic.
  5. The root note can be played as 3 drawbend. This also means it can be bent up.
The second one is a minor tuning, here given in Am:

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Blow: E  A  B  C  E  A  B  C
Draw: F# G  D  E  F# G  D  E
Some comments:
  1. The unbent scale is A Dorian, but the low sixth and high seventh can both be played with easy half-step bends. The only note missing is the minor second, which is not much used in minor western music.
  2. All notes but the second and the minor sixth can either be bent or produced as a bent note. Lots of nice gliding!
  3. There's a three note tonic chord (Am), and a dominant parallel powerchord (G). This is the same chords you have when playing third position Richter or Easy 3rd!
  4. Like the previous variation above, several intervals are made easier by the doubled note.
It's been a while since I played them, but I remember them working quite well. I can't reach them until I get home next week, but I'll try to pick them up again. (I don't dare promise I'll post any clips, but maybe ;) )
Edvin Wedin

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Brendan
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Re: Diatonic tunings inspired by the Wedin Chromatic

Post by Brendan » Fri Sep 17, 2021 4:52 pm

I just tuned a PowerChromatic Lucky 13 to this scale in G/D (blow notes to the left). Three full octaves:

WEDIN DIATONIC: G and D full scales/modes.

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Blow:	G	A	B	C#	G	A	B	C#	G	A	B	C#	G
Draw:	F#	C	D	E	F#	C	D	E	F#	C	D	E	F#
Here it is with the draw notes on the top level - it's easier for me to visualise the scale patterns:

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Draw:	F#	C	D	E	F#	C	D	E	F#	C	D	E	F#
Blow:	G	A	B	C#	G	A	B	C#	G	A	B	C#	G
Whew! It's a real mind bender after having grown accustomed to standard blow/draw sequence tunings for so long 🥴 It would take a lot of time to rewire my brain for this bold alternative concept.

Probably best for players to start with it from scratch, or put aside other harps and just focus on this for a few months. But the same could be said for any radically different alternate tuning - such as Diminished.

However, I think I've put in enough time on the diatonic version to give me a broad picture of its character in one specific genre I'm familiar with, Irish music. I've been practicing a couple of tunes I normally play on Solo (or Paddy-Solo), to see how they flow on the Wedin Diatonic.

Both the G and D positions do allow one to play 'notey' melodies with decent speed and flow. The sweet spots are of course in different places, and there are some jumps I find more tricky (eg. the common 3-to-1 interval, which is two holes apart on both scales). Also in the G scale the tonic and fifth below are two holes apart, whereas in Solo they are adjacent holes if you choose the appropriate G note. But with practice these areas could be mastered.

For anyone wanting to play two full major keys on one harp (as in Irish sets where you switch from G to D based tunes), the Wedin Diatonic is definitely a good option. For me personally it's interesting from an intellectual angle but I prefer the closer thirds and fifths intervals of Solo Tuning. I'm prepared to swap harps in a set to have it in both G and D keys.

But that's just Irish music, a niche genre. For Pop, Blues etc it could work well too, though I normally prefer a tuning which gives bends on the 1,3,5 of the scale.

The three full-tone draw bends per octave of this version of the Wedin Diatonic tuning give good expression. However they don't make chromatic playing easy because the stable 2 semitone bend is an enharmonic of the draw note to the left. To get accurate semitone 'in-between' bends for the chromatic notes is much more tricky.

I stress these are just first subjective impressions based on a few hours playing - not a fair assessment of any alternate tuning. That takes months or years to acquire!

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Brendan
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Re: Diatonic tunings inspired by the Wedin Chromatic

Post by Brendan » Fri Sep 17, 2021 6:41 pm

I did the Lucky 13 retune to Wedin Diatonic before seeing Edvin's initial post with his alternative major key version.

For the home key of D it does give nice extra options with the doubled notes. It addresses the wider interval issues I mentioned for the version I used. It also gives bends on the 1-3-5 of the D scale, as he says.

However, it seems that the ability to play in two different & complete major scales with standard notes is lost. The G# is missing for key of A, and in G the C natural is missing. They could be obtained with a blow bend on the A and draw bend on the D - but this is similar to many other tunings where bends are needed to complete scales.

So it seems this alternate version gives you a stronger home key (D major), but reduces the ability to play so easily in other keys (bends are required). Unfortunately it's always the same with alternate harmonica tunings: you gain something, but at the price of losing something else!

In the end it's just a matter of choosing one tuning that does most things quite well, or switching between several specialist tunings which each do one thing very well, others not so well.

The minor version looks interesting, better for chromatic playing perhaps. It also has a full G major scale and C & D major scales with one bend.

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Brendan
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Re: Diatonic tunings inspired by the Wedin Chromatic

Post by Brendan » Sat Sep 18, 2021 2:03 pm

WEDIN SLIDE-DIATONIC

Here's a new version of the Wedin harmonica tuning concept, designed purely for playing in two keys a fifth apart (G and D in this case) - with two complete in-built scales and adjacent-hole thirds and fifths with the slider. These are to overcome the interval leap problems in the simple diatonic version, mentioned earlier. It's essentially applying my Slide-Diatonic approach to the Wedin chromatic, with the modal nature and wide interval leaps of fiddle-based Irish tunes in mind.

I programmed it into my DM48 and tried it out with a few typical wide-interval phrases that commonly occur in Irish tunes. It has a lot of promise for this specialist application! You can see why from the tuning diagram:

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Draw Slide-In	G	D	E	F#	G	D	E	F#	G	D	E	F#
Draw Slide-Out	F#	C	D	E	F#	C	D	E	F#	C	D	E
HOLE NUMBER	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10	11	12
Blow Slide-Out	G	A	B	C#	G	A	B	C#	G	A	B	C#
Blow Slide-In	A	B	C	D	A	B	C	D	A 	B	C	D
As you can see, there are many enharmonics - as always in a Slide-Diatonic. This gives excellent optional note choices to overcome tricky passages, particularly in relation to rapid wide interval playing. In the two keys of G and D, the tonic of each key has the fifth above and below on adjacent holes, which is so useful.

Plus you get nice scale-based slider decorations on every note of the G and D scales. The note always rises to the next note of the home scale except for the B in the key of D, which rises to the C. But the C# is there as a same-breath jaw flick in the slide-out scale anyway, so the effect is the same.

From my 10 minutes exploration so far, I can see that this tuning could be a great choice for anyone wanting to play Irish or other modal-based tunes without swapping harps. Definitely a good one for someone coming to Irish harmonica fresh (say from another instrument), who isn't already 'corrupted' by muscle memory from playing standard harmonicas for many years...

In half-valved setup there are lots of nice big expressive bends of up to three semitones. It could also be played fully chromatically, mostly with stable bends (the ones that reach the floor of the bend and are easy to pitch), which get the missing notes G#, A#, D#. The F is the only tricky one, since it's an intermediate bend.

Hmmm... very interesting!

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Re: Diatonic tunings inspired by the Wedin Chromatic

Post by Brendan » Sun Sep 19, 2021 8:22 am

Edvin (and/or David), a couple of questions about inputting tuning diagrams please:

1. How do you make yours so compact? I'm using the TAB input method. It lines things up well, but spaces out the cells too much. You have good registration in a more compact space, which is especially good for viewing on a phone.

2. Can one input well-spaced tunings in this forum using a phone? I have an Android phone, which has no TAB key. Is there a phone-friendly way to do it?

EdvinW
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Re: Diatonic tunings inspired by the Wedin Chromatic

Post by EdvinW » Sun Sep 19, 2021 7:12 pm

Thank you!
Edvin Wedin

EdvinW
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Re: Diatonic tunings inspired by the Wedin Chromatic

Post by EdvinW » Mon Sep 20, 2021 7:43 am

Thank you Brendan for your feedback! I really appreciate it :)

It IS a rather different way of playing, but I don't remember it taking THAT long to adjust when I started a few years ago. Maybe it did and I've just suppressed the traumatic experience :D

While my "basic" chromatic tuning can be played without a slide, I often do, it does have some drawbacks if you use it as a tuning for diatonics. One that you touch on is that the bends are not very useful as additional notes. In particular, it's hard to change key: the note F require an unstable one-step bend and the note G# requires an overdraw.

I never thought of making a slide diatonic version! Mostly, I guess, because all the diatonic ornaments are already there in the chromatic version. But it's an interesting idea! Right now I don't have much to add to the points you make for it, including about bends and reduced jumps, you make a pretty good case already. I'll definitely try it on the DM48 when I get home!
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EdvinW
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Re: Diatonic tunings inspired by the Wedin Chromatic

Post by EdvinW » Mon Sep 20, 2021 12:16 pm

About the formatting:
I use spaces as separators. Single-letter notes are followed by two spaces while sharps and flats are followed by a single space. Because the code tags make all characters, including spaces, have the same width this results in straight lines. In your phone app, spaces most likely don't have the same width, but what matters isn't what it looks like in your app but which characters are sent to the server. If the program you type in have variable-width characters you simply need to keep track of how many spaces you type.
Edvin Wedin


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