PowerBender Versus EdHarmonica

A space for players interested in my specialist harmonicas, alternate tunings, instructional material, recordings etc to ask questions and share information, experiences, videos etc.
rishio
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:09 am

Re: PowerBender Versus EdHarmonica

Post by rishio » Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:59 pm

EdvinW wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:10 pm
There is one thing that puzzles me though: Why don't you set them up to play diatonically in ALL keys? The G-harp and the A-harp overlap, in that both are capable of playing in keys G and D, while none of the three are capable of playing in keys B or Bb. If you would instead use, for instance, ED-tuned harps in G, Db and B, you would be able to play not only pentatonic scales in all keys, but full major and minor scales, and even some more exotic scales in some keys.
Hey Edvin, I think I understand your thoughts but not sure. Here are mine. I like to use the full harmonica from hole 1 - hole 10. A G-Key harp is the lowest I can go and still control the low end bends of the harmonica, and A-harp would be the highest I'd like to go without getting too screechy at the top. At most I can get up to a C key, I think, but then the high-end gets too sharp for my taste, and difficult to control those bends. I guess I like the lower-keyed harmonicas. G, Ab, and A are my favorite ranges. Db, for example, is too high for me. I wanted to get all keys with my favorite keyed harps, and the overlapping of the G and A works to my advantage because it gives me different ways to play some popular keys. (not all keys are used equally!)

Diatonic Scales: With the G Harp, I can technically play full diatonic scales: G, D, A and C. But in reality I only really use diatonic scales C and G and don't practice the others. With the A harp: A, E, B and D. With an Ab: Ab, Eb, Bb and Db.

Pentatonic Scales: These are the scales I mainly practice and use for jamming: G Harp gives me: G, D, A, C, and F(and the relative minors). A-Harp gives me: A, E, B, D and G (and the relative minors). Ab gives me: Ab, Eb, Bb, Db, and Gb (and the relative minors). So basically with the G, Ab and A harps, I get all 12 keys (or technically 24 if you count minor keys) with the 3 harps.

I actually don't understand positions too well and think in terms of Keys. I also designed something called the SLOT SYSTEM which is way more intuitive for me than using the POSITION system everyone uses - but that would require a whole post in itself and I don't think others would be that interested in it. Briefly, on a C harp, SLOT 1 is Cmaj/Amin, SLOT 2 is DMaj/Bmin, SLOT 3 is AMaj/F#Min, SLOT 12 is FMaj,Dmin, SLOT 11 is BbMaj, GMin, etc. The idea is that when I say SLOT 2 on a C harp, I mean the pattern for GMaj/EMin because they both share the same pattern but with different root notes. It just is much easier to think like this for me rather than positions.
EdvinW wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:10 pm
Another thing that crosses my mind is that most of the points you make in favour for the ED hold for other tunings as well. To keep ALL the advantages you want, without a doubt the ED is a good choice, but as I'm myself not that a skilled bender I can't help but think how I would solve the problem of playing in all keys with at most three harps. The following is thus not to be taken as criticism to your approach, but rather as an account of some personal thoughts that your post gave rise to.
Yes, I can play 10 different positions (5 Maj, 5 Min) on each harp by using 5 patterns. 2 of the 5 patterns require no bends, 2 of the 5 pattern require 1 bend per octave, the final pattern requires 2 bends per octave. (Add one more bend per octave for blues scale for SLOT 2, 3 and 11). I am sorry if this sounds really confusing!! But one thing I'd like to say is that I love bends. I don't want too many, but a few bends in my jams gives the harmonic a bit of a saxophone sound that I like. Playing with no bends sounds a little to clinical for my taste.
EdvinW wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:10 pm
I have recently started to experiment with repeating variations of the following pattern, found for instance in the PowerChromatic:

Code: Select all

c  e  g  a
d  f# a  b
The above tuning can be played in C, G, D and A (and their respective parallel minor keys) using 1, 0, 1 and 2 bends, respectively. This covers a third of the circle of fifths, so if we accompany the above tuning with harps that use

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e  g# b  c#
f# a# c# d#
and

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db f ab bb
eb g bb c
We can now play in any key with at most 2 bends per octave:

Keys A, Db and F require 2 bends.
Keys C, D, E, F#, Ab and Bb require.
Keys G, B and Eb get by without any bends at all!
(of course we could choose another partition of the circle of fifths if we are not happy with which keys are the most comfortable.)

Also, none of the keys would have their root note as a bent note, which I with my limited bending skills would be troubled by.

One drawback with doing it this way would be that the range on any one harp would go down from over three octaves to two octaves and a fourth. This could be important for some people, but I'm personally not that bothered by it.
This is where our preference is different. I can get all 12 keys with 3 harmonicas with other tunings, like powerbender. But I do like having 3 Octaves available, and having a few bends don't bother me. I could get all 12 keys with one 10-hole harp, and keep 3 octaves if I used augmented - but that gets to be too much bending to get commonly used notes and doesn't have some of the other nice things that I like with ED. For me, ED is the right balance of things that I want in a tuning. It's not for everyone though. I love it that different people are using different tunings. It make for even more uniqueness between different Harmonica players!
EdvinW wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:10 pm
Thanks again for the inspiration, and have a happy new year!
You too!

EdvinW
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Location: Sweden

Re: PowerBender Versus EdHarmonica

Post by EdvinW » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:16 pm

rishio wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:59 pm
Hey Edvin, I think I understand your thoughts but not sure. Here are mine. I like to use the full harmonica from hole 1 - hole 10. A G-Key harp is the lowest I can go and still control the low end bends of the harmonica, and A-harp would be the highest I'd like to go without getting too screechy at the top. At most I can get up to a C key, I think, but then the high-end gets too sharp for my taste, and difficult to control those bends. I guess I like the lower-keyed harmonicas. G, Ab, and A are my favorite ranges. Db, for example, is too high for me. I wanted to get all keys with my favorite keyed harps, and the overlapping of the G and A works to my advantage because it gives me different ways to play some popular keys. (not all keys are used equally!)

Diatonic Scales: With the G Harp, I can technically play full diatonic scales: G, D, A and C. But in reality I only really use diatonic scales C and G and don't practice the others. With the A harp: A, E, B and D. With an Ab: Ab, Eb, Bb and Db.

Pentatonic Scales: These are the scales I mainly practice and use for jamming: G Harp gives me: G, D, A, C, and F(and the relative minors). A-Harp gives me: A, E, B, D and G (and the relative minors). Ab gives me: Ab, Eb, Bb, Db, and Gb (and the relative minors). So basically with the G, Ab and A harps, I get all 12 keys (or technically 24 if you count minor keys) with the 3 harps.
Yes, I can play 10 different positions (5 Maj, 5 Min) on each harp by using 5 patterns. 2 of the 5 patterns require no bends, 2 of the 5 pattern require 1 bend per octave, the final pattern requires 2 bends per octave. (Add one more bend per octave for blues scale for SLOT 2, 3 and 11). I am sorry if this sounds really confusing!! But one thing I'd like to say is that I love bends. I don't want too many, but a few bends in my jams gives the harmonic a bit of a saxophone sound that I like. Playing with no bends sounds a little to clinical for my taste.
Using all of the harp makes sense! Would it be an option to shift the scale so that the different harps start at different positions in the scale??

For instance, you could make something like this:

Code: Select all

e  g  b  e  g  b  e  g  b  e
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10
f# a  d  f# a  d  f# a  d  f#
The harp in G that you like(?), to play in C, G, D and A; and a pentatonic scale in F.

Code: Select all

eb g  c  eb g  c  eb g  c  eb
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10
f  bb d  f  bb d  f  bb d  f
A shifted ED tuned harp in Eb to play in Ab, Eb, Bb and F; and a pentatonic scale in Db.

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d# g# b  d# g# b  d# g# b  d#
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10
f# a# c# f# a# c# f# a# c# f#
A shifted ED tuned harp in Eb to play in E, B, F# and C#(=Db); and a pentatonic scale in A.

They all go approximately down to the same low e. If you would like you could start some of the harps a bit lower still; Seydel Session Steel can be ordered down to one major third below the bottom e of an EDharmonica in G, so there is space for another hole. If not there's always the 1847 Low which go down another octave :)

In this way three major pentatonic scales are available on two different harps, namely F, A and Db. Of course these could be shifted so that you instead get double versions of some popular key like G or D.
This is where our preference is different. I can get all 12 keys with 3 harmonicas with other tunings, like powerbender. But I do like having 3 Octaves available, and having a few bends don't bother me. I could get all 12 keys with one 10-hole harp, and keep 3 octaves if I used augmented - but that gets to be too much bending to get commonly used notes and doesn't have some of the other nice things that I like with ED. For me, ED is the right balance of things that I want in a tuning. It's not for everyone though. I love it that different people are using different tunings. It make for even more uniqueness between different Harmonica players!
I 100% agree! It's great how diverse this place is and how we explore the harmonica in different directions :)
Edvin Wedin

rishio
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Re: PowerBender Versus EdHarmonica

Post by rishio » Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:57 am

It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t like the idea of the note shifting with every different key of harp. I feel like I’d have to make that mental adjutment everytime I switch harps and remember things such as where my root notes are in each key which feels which like it would be more of a mental burden. For example, on a G harp, I know that my Maj/Min root notes are in holes 2B,5B,8b/1B,4B,7B,10B, playing the G in the ley of D would make it 3B,6B,9B/3D,6D,9D, playing it in A would make it 2D,5D,8D/1D,4D,7D,10D etc.. this no longer holds each time i switch harp keys.. I also don’t want the hole 1 Blow to go below E - that is already stretching the limit of how low I want to go. I like the traditional way of keeping all the note layout in different keys the same so that, whether I use 3 harps keys or 12, I can play all the keys exactly the same way. I’m curious as to what tunings you play?

EdvinW
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Location: Sweden

Re: PowerBender Versus EdHarmonica

Post by EdvinW » Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:37 pm

rishio wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:57 am
It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t like the idea of the note shifting with every different key of harp. I feel like I’d have to make that mental adjutment everytime I switch harps and remember things such as where my root notes are in each key which feels which like it would be more of a mental burden. For example, on a G harp, I know that my Maj/Min root notes are in holes 2B,5B,8b/1B,4B,7B,10B, playing the G in the ley of D would make it 3B,6B,9B/3D,6D,9D, playing it in A would make it 2D,5D,8D/1D,4D,7D,10D etc.. this no longer holds each time i switch harp keys.. I also don’t want the hole 1 Blow to go below E - that is already stretching the limit of how low I want to go. I like the traditional way of keeping all the note layout in different keys the same so that, whether I use 3 harps keys or 12, I can play all the keys exactly the same way. I’m curious as to what tunings you play?
I never had any trouble shifting the scale up or down the harmonica, but I suppose this could be individual. Just like you can play the same melody in different octaves, it feels the same for me playing the same thing shifted one or two holes.

I mainly play spiral and Paddy Richter. Not so much chords, mostly melodies. On the Paddy, I rarely use 1B, 1D or 2B for the melodies themselves, but I sometimes use them for the occasional incerted chord. From 2D to 6D the Paddy follows a spiral, so some parts of many tunes can be directly transfered between the two.

In spiral tuning, there are basically two different patterns, depending on whether the root note is blown or drawn. The blow spiral pattern is what I use for playing major tunes on the Paddy, and minor tunes starting on 3B, while I use the draw spiral pattern for minor tunes starting on 4D.

The spiral tuning I use the most looks like this in C:

Code: Select all

c e g b d f a c e g
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
d f a c e g b d f a
Compared to a Paddy in the same key:

Code: Select all

c e a c e g c e g c
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
d g b d f a b d f a
For me, playing something in Am from 3D on the spiral feels precisely the same as playing in Dm from 4D on the Paddy. I have odd harps in various other tunings, but wherever these follow a spiral pattern I can go on playing stuff I normally play without any extra effort, no matter where I start on the harp. Of course it matters if I play a piece with very high or very low notes, but the "geographical" location of the tune hardly makes a difference. For instance, I sometimes play spiral harps that start on what on the above harp is hole 3. When I'm not at the very edge I normally don't even know which hole I'm plaing, only where I am in the scale.

Why not give it a try and shift a harp so that it starts around the same low e, but continues in a different key? The worst case senario is learning that the precise location of the holes is really important, and if this happens that lesson might be worth it? :)
Edvin Wedin

EdvinW
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Re: PowerBender Versus EdHarmonica

Post by EdvinW » Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:02 pm

I just started a new thread where I talk about shifting tunings. I have been thinking about it since before this thread, and I use another quite different tuning as an example, but much of what I write is relevant to this discussion, especially the paragraph in the second half comparing the shift to the use of a capo on a guitar. I don't want to hijack your thread, so if you prefer not to have more talk of shifted ED tunings here we could keep them in the thread I made. ;)
Edvin Wedin

rishio
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Re: PowerBender Versus EdHarmonica

Post by rishio » Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:24 pm

Doesn’t make a difference to me. I’ve always enjoyed going off on tangents, even musically :D

But I will reply back on the new thread regarding this...
EdvinW wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:02 pm
I just started a new thread where I talk about shifting tunings. I have been thinking about it since before this thread, and I use another quite different tuning as an example, but much of what I write is relevant to this discussion, especially the paragraph in the second half comparing the shift to the use of a capo on a guitar. I don't want to hijack your thread, so if you prefer not to have more talk of shifted ED tunings here we could keep them in the thread I made. ;)

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IaNerd
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Re: PowerBender Versus EdHarmonica

Post by IaNerd » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:43 pm

I wish to thank and congratulate the OP and all the contributors to this fascinating thread. I feel that it demonstrates the highest levels of intelligent and classy discourse on alternate tunings.

And Brendan, you made it possible. :D

rishio
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Re: PowerBender Versus EdHarmonica

Post by rishio » Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:35 am

Thanks IANerd. I still use this tuning exclusively and loving it!
Last edited by rishio on Fri Aug 23, 2019 4:47 am, edited 3 times in total.

rishio
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Re: PowerBender Versus EdHarmonica

Post by rishio » Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:22 am

To Illustrate EDs flexibility, I’ve attached a several images showing the different keys easily available with just normal bends for Pentatonic and Blues scales.

One other note - When I started learning the Harmonica, I found the “Position System” to be extremely confusing to use for learning how to play in different keys. As a result, I designed something that made it easier and I call it the “Slot System.” The images below depict the Slot System for a C harmonica (in ED Tuning). I hope the they are self-explanatory on how it works..


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Brendan
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Re: PowerBender Versus EdHarmonica

Post by Brendan » Fri Aug 23, 2019 8:41 am

Nice diagrams and analysis Rishio.

Since you've been playing this tuning for a while now, do you have any video or recordings you'd care to share?

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