Pentatonic tunings

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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IaNerd
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Re: Pentatonic tunings

Post by IaNerd » Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:04 pm

I show detailed diagrams of Pentabender, FourKey and many other tunings here: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=91#p560

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Re: Pentatonic tunings

Post by IaNerd » Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:22 pm

Fun stuff:

A Seydel Big Six in Pentabender will give you one complete chromatic octave plus the next two semitones.

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Re: Pentatonic tunings

Post by oldstudent » Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:33 am

Brendan wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:18 am
Out of interest: If you want all chromatic notes without bends, why not play a chromatic harmonica?
The motivation for pentatonic tunings was to be able to play all chromatic notes with bends, but without overblowing.
And the point of the discussion above is that we can have this in a little harmonica without a button.

Big chromatic harmonicas with buttons are nice too.

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Re: Pentatonic tunings

Post by triona » Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:05 pm

oldstudent wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:33 am
Brendan wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:18 am
Out of interest: If you want all chromatic notes without bends, why not play a chromatic harmonica?
The motivation for pentatonic tunings was to be able to play all chromatic notes with bends, but without overblowing.
And the point of the discussion above is that we can have this in a little harmonica without a button.

Big chromatic harmonicas with buttons are nice too.

Exactly!
I like to play both as well.
Each one for its specific intended purpose and sound.


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

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Re: Pentatonic tunings

Post by oldstudent » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:06 am

I have a friend who loves music from India and the Middle East, and he wanted a harmonica to play a favorite song which is in the E harmonic minor scale. I realized that we can design a tuning with just four holes per octave in which the blow and draw notes exactly form an E harmonic minor scale and all the other chromatic notes can be reached with draw bends. (To do this for a major scale or a natural minor scale would require five holes per octave, as I showed previously in this thread.) The .[blow][draw]. layout for a 10-hole harmonica with this bend-chromatic E-harmonic-minor tuning is:
EF#.GA.AB.CEb.EF#.GA.AB.CEb.EF#.GA
The chromatic notes outside the E harmonic minor scale (F, Ab, Bb, C# and D) can all be reached by draw bends (C# being a deeper bend in the same hole with D). With just four holes per octave, this 10-hole harmonica as a range of 2.5 octaves.

Has anybody seen a tuning like this before?

The fourth of the scale (here A) appears enharmonically as both a draw and a blow note. If we wanted an extra unbent note, we could either lower the draw-A to Ab or raise the blow-A to Bb. Can anybody see any good musical reason to do one or the other?

I had Seydel make one of these, and my friend is very happy with it.

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Re: Pentatonic tunings

Post by EdvinW » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:12 am

oldstudent wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:06 am
I have a friend who loves music from India and the Middle East, and he wanted a harmonica to play a favorite song which is in the E harmonic minor scale. I realized that we can design a tuning with just four holes per octave in which the blow and draw notes exactly form an E harmonic minor scale and all the other chromatic notes can be reached with draw bends. (To do this for a major scale or a natural minor scale would require five holes per octave, as I showed previously in this thread.) The .[blow][draw]. layout for a 10-hole harmonica with this bend-chromatic E-harmonic-minor tuning is:
EF#.GA.AB.CEb.EF#.GA.AB.CEb.EF#.GA
The chromatic notes outside the E harmonic minor scale (F, Ab, Bb, C# and D) can all be reached by draw bends (C# being a deeper bend in the same hole with D). With just four holes per octave, this 10-hole harmonica as a range of 2.5 octaves.

Has anybody seen a tuning like this before?

The fourth of the scale (here A) appears enharmonically as both a draw and a blow note. If we wanted an extra unbent note, we could either lower the draw-A to Ab or raise the blow-A to Bb. Can anybody see any good musical reason to do one or the other?

I had Seydel make one of these, and my friend is very happy with it.
Since this is not a pentatonic tuning, further discussion might justify a new thread about this tuning. I'll happily discuss further if you start a new topic :) But I'll answer once here anyway.

I have been looking at a huge number of minor tunings, but I'm not sure if I've seen this one. Definitely never seen one built. It looks interesting.

One reason not to change them is that you would loose bendability in the changed hole. I'm not that familiar with Middle Eastern or Indian music, but to play Scandinavian music the major third (ab/g# in this case) is very useful, so I understand if you want it readily available. I would prefer to change the blow a, as the draw a is part of the V chord (the major dominant, B in this case), which is important in harmonic minor.

Another option, if you would sacrifice the ab/g# all together, would be to tune the blow a all the way up to a b. That way you would have BOTH the i and the V chords, arguably the most important ones in harmonic minor, at the cost of a note that might not be that important. This would loose even more bendability though, and I personally really like to have bendable fifths. You would just have to ask your friend if he would rather keep the expressive note or have a more useful chord structure.
Edvin Wedin

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Re: Pentatonic tunings

Post by Brendan » Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:29 am

Oldstudent: I agree with Edvin, start a new thread on your Middle Eastern tuning. If you can, please post some recordings by your friend using it, I'd love to hear it in action :-)

You define pentatonic tunings as those which contain two pentatonic scales: one on the blow notes and another on the draw. PerntaBender is an example. As noted, the drawback of PentaBender is that it has a limited range over the 10-hole form of a typical diatonic harp. There is a way to overcome this issue whilst retaining the principle of having two pentatonic scales in the harp.

THREE-HOLE 'PENTATONIC' TUNINGS
I've used a couple of pentatonic tunings that repeat every 3 holes for several years. One I call Paddy-Richter Extended, which I've played since the early '90s. It's now been adopted by the ED Harmonica company as their base scale. It is, on a C harp:

CD EG AB CD EG AB CD EG AB CD

Like PentaBender it has two pentatonic major scales incorporated, but it gets them a different way: by using a mix of bow and draw notes:

C Pentatonic: C, D, E, G, A
G Pentatonic: G, A, B, D, E

Its advantage is that it gives a range of over three octaves on a 10-hole harp, which is handy. It's also very intuitive to play in several positions. Certainly, unlike the PentaBender, on a standard harp not all chromatic notes are available as interactive-reed bends (the Eb and Ab are not possible), but on other types of diatonic harp you CAN get them as bends.

For example, the SlipSlider. This will give you the Eb and Ab as blow bends with the right-shift, plus huge draw bends with the left shift.

Another way is with X-Reed harps. The triple-reed type (like Suzuki SUB30) will give interactive-reed bends on all the blow notes for full chromaticism with bends (if that's what you tune the x-reeds for), and the quad-reed type (like Hohner XB-40) will likewise give full chromaticism with draw and blow bends in Paddy-Richter Extended tuning (or any other tuning you can think of). Another X-Reed option is the all-draw AsiaBend. These can be tuned in many ways; personally I use them for wide diatonic bends, but they could be tuned for chromatic bends if desired.

A further possibility is Jim Antaki's Turboslide harmonica. Tuned in Paddy-Richter Extended it could give semitone-down blow slide-bends, and also enable bigger draw bends with the slide pushed in.

Yet another interesting option is to use a half-valved chromatic for Paddy-Richter Extended. You could have the slide-out scale as above, and the slide-in scale a semitone up:

C#D# FG# A#C C#D# FG# A#C C#D# FG# A#C

This will retain all the draw bends plus give all chromatic notes as built-in notes, plus lots of bend-enharmonics. If you tuned a half-valved chromatic in PentaBender with the slide raising a semitone you'd have a massive range of note options - too many maybe!

So... if you widen the scope of harmonica types, so-called 'pentatonic' tunings that get all notes as bends need not be restricted to those that repeat every five holes. Have you considered making your tunings in other types of harmonica oldstudent?

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Re: Pentatonic tunings

Post by oldstudent » Thu Dec 27, 2018 8:11 pm

I greatly appreciate the thoughtful comments by EdvinW (Nov 14) and Brendan (Nov 22) above, and I am sorry to be so late in responding to them. My only excuse is that the quality of the comments deserved a good thoughtful reply, which takes time!

Both Brendan and EdvinW observe correctly that my posting about the interesting new harmonic-minor tuning does not belong with the subject line "Pentatonic tunings" here. I agree, and when I can get a report from my friend with his new harmonic-minor harmonica, I will be glad to post it with an appropriate subject title.

The connection between this harmonic-minor tuning and the pentatonic tunings that I have been discussing in this subject line is that they all are tunings which make it possible, with draw bends, to play a full chromatic scale in a simple two-reed-per-hole diatonic harmonica. That is a broader category which inclusively describes everything that I have been trying to discuss above, but I am not sure what to call it. I have sometimes used the phrase "buttonless bend-chromatic tunings," but Brendan rightly observes that new innovations like the SlipSlider and half-valving can also allow other diatonic tunings to become bend-chromatic. I had one opportunity to try out a SlipSlider, and I agree that it is a very interesting way to expand the range of good bends on a diatonic harmonica. I have also used half-valving, but I know that the low-bend note that it enables can be hard to control without an extra X-reed, which also seems like a great idea (although I have not tried it). At this point, I can only say that my focus has been on exploring the tunings that enable bend-chromatic play in a simple two-reeds-per-hole "diatonic" harmonica. But I recognize these other innovative designs as other promising ways to combine the best of diatonic and chromatic. I particularly admire the SlipSlider, which enables one to keep the size of the instrument small like standard diatonic harps (although the SlipSlider that I saw was designed to work with Richter tuning in a way that would not fit with tunings that repeat a single octave pattern).

EdvinW offered some very insightful comments on my question about altering the enharmonic fourth in the new harmonic-minor tuning. As he observes, the tuning that I made for my friend has the iv7 chord on the blow notes and the V7 chord on the draw notes. If we flattened the redundant draw note down a semitone, then the draw chord would change from V7 to the minor-seventh chord based on the major third note, which is not a note in the harmonic-minor scale. But if we sharpened the redundant blow note up a semitone, then the blow chord would change to the VI7 chord, based on the sixth note of the harmonic minor scale (which is a minor sixth). EdvinW also brilliantly suggested the option of sharpening the redundant blow note up a whole-tone, which would change the blow chord to the i7 of the harmonic-minor scale, but then the flatted-fifth note would no longer be available among regular notes or draw bends (and so we would no longer have a buttonless bend-chromatic tuning).

Because I have been playing tunings where the blow notes and the draw notes each form a pentatonic scale, I don't usually think about the blow chords and draw chords in a tuning, which probably makes my perspective different from almost everybody else in the harmonica world. It is certainly awkward that this leaves me using the term "pentatonic tunings" in a way that is so different from Brendan's preferred usage, which refers instead to tunings that have a pentatonic scale in the blow and draw notes combined.

When I started this topic, I derived a class of pentatonic tunings (in my sense) from the property of enabling bend-chromatic play in a simple diatonic harmonica. But now that I have been playing them for almost a decade, I have come to appreciate the property of having reeds in one breath direction forming a pentatonic scale. Common melodic phrases that run up and down a pentatonic scale can become particularly enjoyable on a pentatonic harmonica, and that may be the best reason to suggest that people might want to try one.

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Re: Pentatonic tunings

Post by Brendan » Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:42 am

Thanks oldstudent. Do you have any musical examples of your tunings in action? That would be nice to hear :)

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Re: Pentatonic tunings

Post by oldstudent » Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:56 pm

As requested, I have posted a recording of Satin Doll played on two pentatonic-tuned harmonicas, first an Eb-fourkey, then a C-pentabender:
https://home.uchicago.edu/~rmyerson/ima ... charps.wmv
On both harmonicas the draw notes form a G-major pentatonic scale, which is very nice for this tune. The blow notes on the fourkey form an Ab-major pentatonic scale, but the blow notes on the pentabender form an F-major pentatonic scale.

I have also posted a recording of my friend playing the harmonic-minor-tuned harmonics that I discussed above (on Nov 13, 2018):
https://home.uchicago.edu/~rmyerson/ima ... orharp.mp4

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