The Harmonica & Whistle Combination

We have some evidence, however, that you may have to pay for the reeds.
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Shaun-Patrick Young
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The Harmonica & Whistle Combination

Post by Shaun-Patrick Young »

I've always said I'm not really a good whistle player (not like Madden, Greg Mahon, or others I know). I frequently tell folk I'm a half-fast whistle player. =^)

I still love to make them though, as I LOVE the sound of them when they're made to be played right. However, as I've been getting more and more involved in playing with Irish session groups around town, most folk have been asking me to play my harmonicas more. Not many "Celtic Blues Harp" players around. Terry Lakes can play Irish jigs and reels on a diatonic harmonica like no one else I've ever heard before, and those weren't on any "paddy-richtor" types.

One of the violin players told me that they liked the way the harmonica sounds with them more than accordians, because I can put more "feeling" into the notes. And surprisingly enough, the whistles and flutes sound good with them as well. I know the harmonica has always been sort of viewed as a "blues" instrument, but I'm being told that the "Celtic Blues Harp" is beginning to take more center stage and is sort of like a poor-man's accordian.

I was wondering how wide spread this "Celtic Harmonica" phenomenon has become?

Best regards,

Shaun
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carrie
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Post by carrie »

Maybe you know James Conway's Mouth BoxCD? He plays harmonica along with many other instruments on the different tracks--it's a great sound.

Carol
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Post by Denny »

Check member SteveShaw and his web site.
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Cayden

Post by Cayden »

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/instrumentals/ ... ember.smil

Download a program in the RTE series 'Instrumentals' which was broadcast dec 18th, in this one Mick Kinsella speaks about and plays the harmonica.
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Re: The Harmonica & Whistle Combination

Post by Lorenzo »

Shaun-Patrick Young wrote:I know the harmonica has always been sort of viewed as a "blues" instrument, but I'm being told that the "Celtic Blues Harp" is beginning to take more center stage and is sort of like a poor-man's accordian.

I was wondering how wide spread this "Celtic Harmonica" phenomenon has become?

If you ever get a chance to hear Mark Graham playing Irish tunes on his blues harmonicas, don't miss it, he really kicks butt. Mark use to play with the Hurricance Ridge Runners. He's also recorded with fiddler Kevin Burke. Last time I heard them in concert, Kevin could hardly keep up with Mark...ornaments and all.
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Post by anniemcu »

The reeds make the sound very similar to the accordian, so it still has a very believable traditional flavor. One of our friends recently took it up, and it is a great addition.
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Post by barbuck »

Shortly before Christmas I was cleaning out some stuff in a closet & came across a chromatic Koch harmonica I had received as a teen. I vaguely recalled messing around with it but not being able to play it well, so it spent the past 35 years or so in its original box.

Anyway, I took it out & found that now I could actually play some tunes fairly decently. Since my original is now worth a little money, I bought several Hohner diatonics in various keys, & decided to try practicing it on a couple of songs our band is lworking on. They'll get to hear it this weekend, for better or worse!

Also, my wife found a book/CD that she gave me for Christmas, "Irish & American Fiddle Tunes for Harmonica" by Glenn Weiser.
BAR
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Post by SteveShaw »

barbuck wrote:Shortly before Christmas I was cleaning out some stuff in a closet & came across a chromatic Koch harmonica I had received as a teen. I vaguely recalled messing around with it but not being able to play it well, so it spent the past 35 years or so in its original box.

Anyway, I took it out & found that now I could actually play some tunes fairly decently. Since my original is now worth a little money, I bought several Hohner diatonics in various keys, & decided to try practicing it on a couple of songs our band is lworking on. They'll get to hear it this weekend, for better or worse!

Also, my wife found a book/CD that she gave me for Christmas, "Irish & American Fiddle Tunes for Harmonica" by Glenn Weiser.


Glenn's book is fine. He recommends 12-hole harps for some tunes. The 12-hole marine bands are big chunky beasts in the mouth that don't suit everyone. You can get round this, and use 10-hole harps for all his tunes (I think!), by using a 10-hole blues harp that's had the 3-blow retuned up by a tone (this is the Paddy Richter tuning). To get going on Irish tunes on the harmonica you should get a harp in low D (I recommend Hohner Special 20) and one in G (Lee Oskars are great for longevity). The Paddy tuning is more important for the G harp. If you don't want to get into retuning you can buy Hohner 10-hole harps from Anthony Dannecker in the UK for very little extra cost in the tuning you specify. He does a really excellent job. Of course you could always buy chromatics! Go thou and blow now. :)

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Post by barbuck »

SteveShaw wrote: You can get round this, and use 10-hole harps for all his tunes (I think!), by using a 10-hole blues harp that's had the 3-blow retuned up by a tone (this is the Paddy Richter tuning).

Hi Steve,
Yeah, I was reading about that on your website before I posted. I may have to try that; wish I'd seen it before the holidays when I had 2 weeks off to tinker!

To get going on Irish tunes on the harmonica you should get a harp in low D (I recommend Hohner Special 20) ...

I also saw on your site that you liked the low D's; I think I will get one. It wasn't until I received my others that I realized the D was that high.

There are so many models to choose from; I decided on Hohner Golden Melody's in D, G, C, A & F when I ordered mine last month. It was between them and the Special 20's. I think they were the same price; can't remember why I picked the G.M.s (I wanted plastic combs for easier maintenance; can't recall if the S-20's had that...)

Bruce
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Post by SteveShaw »

Hi Bruce

Golden Melodies are fine, though they don't go down to low D unfortunately. Neither do Lee Oskars. SP20s have plastic bodies. There are subtle differences in fine-tuning between these harps (GMs and LOs are in equal temperament whilst SP20s are in an intermediate tuning between ET and Just intonation). This may or may not bother you! I have a vague feeling that we're not really supposed to prattle on about instrument details so I'll leave it there. Hope this helps slightly! :)

Steve
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He jested, quaff'd and swore."

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Tell us something.: Whistle player, aspiring C#/D accordion and flute player, and aspiring tunesmith. Particularly interested in the music of South Sligo and Newfoundland. Inspired by the music of Peter Horan, Fred Finn, Rufus Guinchard, Emile Benoit, and Liz Carroll.

I've got some compositions up at http://www.harmonyware.com/tunes/SolsTunes.html
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Post by colomon »

SteveShaw wrote: You can get round this, and use 10-hole harps for all his tunes (I think!), by using a 10-hole blues harp that's had the 3-blow retuned up by a tone (this is the Paddy Richter tuning).

My (accordion-induced) confusion over trying to understand this made me get out the harmonica that had been sitting my old desk drawer for the better part of the last 20 years.

Am I correct in thinking that 4-blow is the tonic note, and you're trying to correct for the missing sixth below this? I know two of our three accordions are missing that note on each row, messing up a host of tunes that would otherwise fit very nicely. (Of course, on the accordions the tonic is 3-push.)

In which case the uncorrected scale is
2-blow 3rd
2-draw 5th
3-blow 5th
3-draw 7th
4-blow tonic
?

That would correspond to our 4-stop, I think.

Guess I should have paid more attention when Don Kavanagh was talking about this!
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Post by Fishie »

Peter Laban wrote:Download a program in the RTE series 'Instrumentals' which was broadcast dec 18th, in this one Mick Kinsella speaks about and plays the harmonica.


Mick Kinsella's CD is a good one to get. I love it. He's also a guest on several other CD's, including Josephines Marsh's.
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Post by SteveShaw »

colomon wrote:
SteveShaw wrote: You can get round this, and use 10-hole harps for all his tunes (I think!), by using a 10-hole blues harp that's had the 3-blow retuned up by a tone (this is the Paddy Richter tuning).

My (accordion-induced) confusion over trying to understand this made me get out the harmonica that had been sitting my old desk drawer for the better part of the last 20 years.

Am I correct in thinking that 4-blow is the tonic note, and you're trying to correct for the missing sixth below this? I know two of our three accordions are missing that note on each row, messing up a host of tunes that would otherwise fit very nicely. (Of course, on the accordions the tonic is 3-push.)

In which case the uncorrected scale is
2-blow 3rd
2-draw 5th
3-blow 5th
3-draw 7th
4-blow tonic
?

That would correspond to our 4-stop, I think.

Guess I should have paid more attention when Don Kavanagh was talking about this!


4-blow is the tonic on all but a very few harmonicas. The rest of what you say is also correct. With standard tuning you'll get a nice tonic chord if you blow holes 4-7 together. The missing 6th you refer to is the real bugbear for playing Irish tunes, especially with a G harp. The point of retuning to the Paddy Richter retuning I referred to is to put that note back. You don't lose the 5th by retuning as it's duplicated at 2-draw anyway. I have a D/G melodeon that I'm completely useless with, but I know that there are missing notes at the low end that stop you playing quite a few tunes. On mine (a Hohner Erica) there are some pretty useless accidentals at the low end instead. I once worked out what I would have to ask a technician to do to retune the low end but I never got round to it...

Steve
"Last night, among his fellow roughs,
He jested, quaff'd and swore."

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that'll never, never die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in me -
I am the lord of the dance, said he!
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