I had spent many years researching new and innovating Blues Harp designs, specifically focussing on alternate tunings or reed configurations, which allow an otherwise regular harp to be played chromatically off the bat.
There are many.
Most notably the Suzuki Sub30 which actually incorporates an extra ten reeds into the same 20 reed infrastructure, acting as silent “sympathetics”, only sounding when the player instructs them through embouchure.
Yet whilst it was my frustration with an instrument’s limitations that led me to this decade long investigation, it would soon come to pass that this very disposition of the Blues Harp’s design would be the very thing that solves my paradox.
All my life I have taught people a blessed miracle of music, that whence the passion of creativity resides within one, an orchestra can be painted from a pallette of only three colours.
That is to say, music is not the art of playing as many notes as possible as quickly and as loudly as possible… it is the art of creating masterpieces out of only the air, or thus from a flute without even any holes.
Enter… The Big Six.
Small enough to be snuggly hidden inside your hand, yet just as powerful as a standard diatonic, The Big Six retains all the orchestral texture of a Blues Harp’s first six holes.
Diatonic harmonicas aren’t actually restricted to chordal majors. Techniques such as note bending expand the Blues Harp’s range to almost 75% chromatics.
My problem however, was not bending technique, it was overblowing.
Yet, and moreover, it was not just the overblowing and overdrawing… for whilst this pro technique extends that range even further, to say 90% chromatic, the fact remains that these extra notes do not sound natural anyway. However good you are at the “overs”, they will always sound tortured.
Then it finally hit me. I realised that, not only was my frustration about ruling the chromatics, it was about an evermore growing awareness that the chromatics were trying to rule me.
Aye, amidst my torment I was becoming blind to my very own philosophy of masterpiece from innerpeace and in turn neglecting my own heart.
The instrument wasn’t limited… in fact, it wasn’t limited enough.
Blues Harp it will be known, was born from the good souls of the poor and oppressed black folks of America, who’s very music spoke of a hope inside amidst the pain and gloom of their impoverished lives.
It was about making the most of all that one has.
That’s why the Blues Harp will never become a chromatic instrument and that’s why regardless of how many amazing inventions you produce to improve it… you never will.
You want my advice?
Instead of trying to play the great works of Beethoven, Bach, Debussy or Mozart, by tormenting the child of a prophecy from within its own divine cradle… close your eyes, open your heart, smell the flowers upon the air and listen… listen to the harp’s ancient and most sacred voice.
Knock off four holes instead.