Suzuki Overdrive ~ Start Your Spaceships

Simon Jepps' Suzuki Overdrive
The revolutionary Suzuki Overdrive is a quantum leap in the evolution of biological Blues Harp chromatics.
The Suzuki Overdrive is both ingenious and beautiful.

One merely has to take a glance at its facade to appreciate that this is no ordinary Harmonica. Yet the real beauty of this instrument may well come as a surprise to you… for it is, the final frontier of authentic Blues Harp chromatics.

I have blogged regularly about the next evolution of the Blues Harp, or to be more technical, the Diatonic Ten Hole Richter Tuned Harmonica.

Most specifically I have addressed the argumentative concept of chromaticising its tonal range. This is the idea that by altering its tuning, installing valves, magnetic switches, spring loaded slides, or even extra hidden reeds, one might accomplish the seemingly impossible task of making an instrument which was born to weep, dance as if it had never cried.

And yet doing this doesn’t make any sense.

For whence it comes to the aspect of sacreligious change, I have always believed it to be imperative that a Blues Harp retains its original philosophy of design in order to be considered authentic and praiseworthy. Its music is about making the most out of what little you have and finding the fruition of a miracle within one’s own determination.

So, I feel many new designs aimed at “chromaticising” the Blues Harp, whilst revolutionary and ingenious, only find themselves eventually stripping the instrument of its ancestral belonging and in turn its very own appeal to be played.

Instead all that is accomplished, is a precision engineered technological monstrosity which only feels like you are cheating at life when you attempt to play it.

And so here, a paradox looms.

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Keytoy ~ Rainbluew Styling By Jepps

Keytoy ~ Rainbluew Styling By Jepps
The Rainbluew Keytoy By Jepps
Ladies and gentlemen, this little beauty you see right here is my most recent and beloved creation.

Readers of my blog will know I have dabbled in custom styling of melodicas before. Yet even whence dancing with the radioactive moon in the grace of the night, I still felt my one true love to be amiss.

I have discovered gradually over many years that my “problem” with the melodica is nothing to do with its performance, or that it is a “one handed” instrument.

Nay, for even a trumpet is a one handed instrument and besides, the performance of a melodica is purely a question of decent reed quality and adjustment.

Indeed, the base model featured here is a Hohner Superforce 37. Give the reeds a personal tweak and she will be your spouse for life.

No, my “problem” in the end all crunched down to aesthetics. How does it look and feel to hold?

Thus after experimenting a few times, I decided it was high time I actually put in some serious effort to design my own “Jepps” style.

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Tenor Harp ~ Authentic Terminology For An Authentic Harmonica

Tenor Harp Hohner CX12 Jazz
Hohner CX12 Jazz Tenor Harp
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.

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Keytoy ~ Radioactive Styling By Jepps

Keytoy ~ Custom Styling By Jepps
Theatre grade glow in the dark tape applied to sharps and flats, whilst black electrician tape softened surrounding case appearance.
I simply adore my Hohner Superforce 37. In fact I adore it so much I decided it was time to give it a manicure and custom artistic makeover.

The result? A finely tuned and responsive, totally radioactive Keytoy.

It had been begging me to do it. In fact the day it arrived the first thing it said was, “Please don’t call me a Superforce 37…”

Damn right. Whilst my favourite Keytoy, or Melodica, or whatever you want to call it, the name SUPERFORCE 37 has never settled with me on any particularly personal level, at all.

Hence, in addition to the reed adjustments I spent a good couple of hours undertaking, the abominable logo has now gone from its now most graciously decorated face.

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Masters Of Pocket Sax

After somewhat of a round the world trip, I have finally began to gather a collection of Pocket Sax Masters. I will no doubt be updating this playlist as time goes by.

Click this on screen icon for video list.

Herewith, a ‘pocket saxophonist’ is the term given to a most talented Xaphoonist who’s sound is almost en par with that of a larger Sax.

Whence reading my blog you will know, I have spoken many times about how true virtuoso Xaphoonists are very hard to find.

They are more precious than star dust.

Therefore, it was only inevitable that I would eventually begin searching the endless vaults of recordings, in the hope to start compiling a playlist of Pocket Sax Masters, those of whom have truly began to take hold of the heavens and channel this truly special instrument’s secret divine heart.

There are of course, many talented Xaphoonists out there, yet my excuse for not including them is purely a consequence of musical arrangement or presentation, rather than any absence of talent.

Also, whilst a Xaphoonist of good calibre may impress in one aspect, for example fluidity of scales, he or she may be weaker in another aspect, for example maturity of voice.

Of course, the Xaphoon as I have written often, harbours a rich diversity of voices, such as like Trumpet, Clarinet, Oboe, Sax and even Armenian Duduk. Yet the instrument itself requires a translator of its soul. Its disposition is of a linguistic unorthodoxy, as opposed to any social illegitimacy.

Thus, when addressing one as a Pocket Sax Master, I am saying the performer has acquired a substantial understanding of how the Xaphoon itself wishes to be interpreted and translated to the listener.

It cries, “My body may be finite, but my soul is eternal.”

Indeed thence, as time goes by and existing novices become more adept at their craft, I expect not only to find more and more quality performances, but much, much more well practised individuals who have truly taken The Art Of Pocket Sax unto another musical dimension.

Please enjoy.

Special 20 Country Tuned

Special 20 Country Tuning
Paint the country blue… or erm, illusive copper.
I recently blogged about the Seydel Big Six and how the attempt to chromaticize Blues Harmonicas only destroys the very philosophy of its own original voice.

That philosophy, born from the oppressed good black folks of America, speaks of the strength to make the most of what little you have and the meditation therefore, to create more from less.

It is only natural then of the Blues Harpist, to recreate or arrange melodies from other genres in a way that satisfies both the instrument’s demands and the listener’s ear.

More than often this means not only an alteration of style, but to manipulate the existence of notes which are not naturally sounding in the Harmonica.

This is a technique called ‘bending’.

Whilst they may sound harsh if held too long, or whence unnaturally forced to support a piece of weighty Bach, whence employed as careful “passing notes” they can often convey a very subtle beauty of speech.

Yet therein, due to their unnatural sounding, there is an element of truth in what modern harmonica players say, that sometimes if just one note of their instrument were changed, then so would their entire world.

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The Big Six

Seydel big six harp
Less… art… more…
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.

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