Here is an interesting story of how about I came to play the Tenor Harp.
Those familiar with my blog will know that I am originally a lounge pianist, who has performed in many locations such as the Royal Palace, Turin.
Yet since returning to England shortly after the turn of the millennium, it began to become ever moreso apparent to me that the Piano was only a burden on my freedom.
Whilst passionately in love with the instrument since only a child, it would become both the heartbreak and the revelation of my musical destiny.
The most irritating thing about the Piano is of course its size and its expense. Whilst you may be able to find a Piano that produces the perfect sound to your personal taste, and for good money, you will never be able to escape the fact that it can only be played where it stands.
In shortest sweetest terms… my soul was aching for a portable instrument that could substitute and compensate all I have invested in the Piano.
I do not like electric keyboards and never have. They are not instruments to me.
In my opinion, a “musical instrument” must resonate of its own creative merit ~ an electronic instrument does not.
The only exception I approve is electric guitars or other amplified instruments thereof.
Thus, as the millennium began to take full swing, I was beginning to realise very soon, that I was about to undertake a very long journey, through the entire musical world, from Ocarinas to Indian Banjos, from Thumb Pianos to Transylvanian thunder flutes… to the ends of the Earth and back again.
Surely you may indeed suggest, the Piano Accordion would be the most sensible next option. Yet for me, no. Why? Because they are again, not only very expensive, but quite heavy. I can actually play Accordion fairly well and have even written music for the instrument, but alas, it does not meld with me in the way I wholeheartedly desire.
All the while…
I had been playing around with all kinds of harmonicas for many years and my subconscious had always been nudging me to pursue Chromatic Harmonica.
Yet many issues would forever strike it off the agenda, aside from quality, repairs, disassembly and maintenance, there was not least to say the awful expense of finding one such harp with a very low key range.
Oh my word, there are some absolutely beautiful low keyed chromatic harmonicas on the market. Yet it is nearly impossible to find one for less than £200. At least not that will provide the tendermost tone and trustworthiness your heart expects from a good quality instrument.
Perhaps if I won the lottery, the Suzuki SCT-128 Professional 16 hole Tremolo would find its way into my life. You’ll be lucky to find this beautiful harp for less than £1,000 in some countries.
But then no. Why even entertain the notion that only a fortune can buy happiness? I’d sooner give the money to charity.
Onwards I marched into 2010, now experimenting with anything reed orientated. By this time the Chinese BaWu flute had become a family member for life!
Yet the knife edge turning point was my discovery of the Hering Baritono. This harp is actually reasonably priced and yes, it has a low range, for all those jazz brushed mellow bluesy ballads.
Yet, aside from it having been discontinued, I couldn’t for the life of me work out what was going on inside its mechanics, for it had the most strangest assembly. God save me, I simply couldn’t get a screwdriver anywhere near a screw, let alone get the reed plates unscrewed!
Then I discovered the Hohner CX12 Jazz.
Name that harp…
The CX12 is a revolutionary new kind of chromatic harmonica with a patented assembly mechanism. The harp is designed to just “flake apart” into all the separate components, by merely pressing, clicking, sliding and tapping.
Furthermore this harp is available in all the low key registers such as “Tenor C”.
The difference between the CX12 and the CX12 Jazz, is found in its casing. The Jazz version features a more ergonomically shaped mouth piece and a spectacular colour finish.
In fact it is rumoured that nobody actually knows what colour a CX12 Jazz actually is… for by turning it in the light you will find it to change from one jazzy mood to the next.
If that doesn’t grab your attention its voice definitely will, for beneath that majestically colourful body is a rich and breathy, sweet and mellow yet powerfully pronounced tenor virtuoso.
This, my inner soul exclaimed, is how a chromatic harmonica should be.
I could never fathom why people liked to play higher pitched harmonicas, least of all the chromatics. It just did not and still does not make sense to me. The whole legendary meaning to a chromatic harmonica’s entire existence, is to become an orchestra in your palm.
And so… in my professional musical opinion, this instrument needs its own unique classification of orchestral identity.
A chromatic slide harmonica tuned in the low Tenor C key register.
For it is unquestionable, that amidst all the thousands of cheap and squeaky chromatic competitors, the genuine and most sacred authenticity of the “chromatic harmonica” dwells within the infinite and the eternally endless chambers of its full orchestral range.
The humble “Tenor Harp” then, is the only genuine artefact.
And the CX12 Jazz… is in my pocket.