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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Mighty Chromatic Harmonica

About two years ago, I posted an entry dedicated to the mighty chromatic harmonica. I continue to hold this instrument in high regard, and I have been playing it and thinking about it quite a lot recently.

The chromatic lends itself to flashy virtuosity. It lives up to the haromica's nickname - "mouth organ." The chromatic has all the notes in the scale (hence its name) and covers much of the same range as a standard keyboard (64 notes for the 16-hole, "kingsize" chromatic vs. 88 keys on a standard keyboard). You can play sustained chords on the chromatic; you can come up with wailin' split chords that sound a lot like a Hammond B3 in full cry. In the hands of a skilled player, the chrom can handle jazz, blues, soul, rock and classical. The tone of the instrument ranges from sweet to raucous. Listen to Stevie Wonder, followed by George "Harmonica" Smith and you will see what I mean.

I am on the road right now, attending to my real world livlihood. I have tucked my Hering 5264 in my rolling bag. Room # 716 at the Embassy Suites in Birmingham, Alabama was filled with the sound of Mr. G blowing the chromatic last night. No one tried to shoot me, thank goodness. My efforts on the chromatic are still pretty mediocre - I can play the blues in third position (key of D on the C chromatic), but that is about the extent of my skills. I haven't improved very much since I last wrote about the chromatic in May of 2005. I am stuck...

I am between flights now, heading to Fayetteville, Arkansas. I am hoping to find a jam session there - Fayetteville is the home of University of Arkansas, so I might get lucky tonight.

1 comment:

Joe said...

If you run into RJ Mischo, tell him Big Joe from Fremont said, "Hello."