Blue Cross Tuning ~ Diatonic Harmonica

Blue Cross Tuning by Jepps
Blue Cross Tuning of a Suzuki Manji
For generations Blues Harmonica players have been experimenting with different reed tuning setups for their instrument, to increase the musical possibilities in their repertoire.

To name just a few there is, Paddy Richter, Country or Super Country, Harmonic Minor, Natural Minor and even patented tunings by famous musicians such as the Wilde Rock Tuning by Will Wilde.

Why do these different tunings exist and why is there not simply a standard tuning which suits all styles of music?

Well it is quite a detailed discussion, but essentially it all comes down to the fact that the standard tuning of your common 10 hole blues harp was originally designed for playing chords and Major melodies as an accompaniment to band parades.

As such its chromatic capabilities or range of native keys is extremely limited.

Of course, since the discovery of various employable techniques such as bending and overblowing, these ‘limitations’ have almost, at least for the most part, become extinguished by a new ‘class of embouchure expertise’.

The once merely diatonic harmonica, became with the evolution of study and collaborative research, practically 100% chromatic ~ purely from embouchure technique alone.

Yet a hard truth remains.

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Suzuki Manji ~ Low Eb

Suzuki Manji
The Suzuki Manji features a Bamboo composite comb which produces a most exotic bluesy voice.
My heart is shaped by the sound of bamboo. Friends of this blog will know I am deeply fond of the Chinese Xiao flute and the infinite voices which resonate throughout its eternal chambers.

Hitherto, as a Blues Harpist on the side, I have likewise always been on the search for a wooden instrument, able to produce the natural resonances and tonal colours so commonly associated with a flute.

A decade later, after flirting with various wooden combs and cover plates, all of which would eventually warp and crack, little did I expect a Blues Harp to be created from actual Bamboo.

Furthermore, little did I expect it to keep its shape. In fact, the shape of the Suzuki Manji is a very special wonder indeed.

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