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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

The Work Of God

There was a silence. Nothing to be heard. There were only the hands of God which made the sound of life of which we know it. Why did God wish to take such a risk, of such danger and alarm, which may have caused him such harm? No one knows, no one cares. But the risk God took and had not shook his head at resisting the danger of the fate of his own and to leave the silence all alone. God tightened his fist and wished, for a sleeping thought of great bliss, to awake and then make a storm which would form a world of great love and happiness. Within that tightened grasp of nothing, that secured case of uncertainty, arose tremors. The fist began to tremble and inside began to assemble an almighty explosion of great tension and emotion. God wanted to set free the awakened dream but could not seem to unclench that tightened grasp, of which held the first world, or even the last. It was all building up inside and even as he tried, he could not hold it in, what was all part of him. Away came the once tightened fingers and as away came the thumb, with it had come, a light which was so bright that it filled God with fright. God could not see what he had created. And with this light came a sound of much might, which sang the song of creation. God closed his eyes as he could not stare at what in reality may be a nightmare. As the sound subsided and the light became dimmer, he heard sweet chirping, which made God smile. Then he felt slightly warmer and so began to wonder if it was safe to look or if the heat would burn his eyes. He slowly lifted the blankets which covered his sight to see alive what he once dreamt in the everlasting night. His dream had come true. Time passed and God observed the world of which grew fast. But God had no clue as to what would become of his dream come true. The creatures of which were very strange soon began to change into uncaring intellectuals who damaged their world by misusing their tools. They grew to hate each other. They took the life of one another so to settle a certain matter. God didn’t know what to do, the end to his world would be through war – and what more – he may never dream again. God watched the truth unfold as more bombs blew. The world was at war with itself. God’s world didn’t seem to be a world anymore. As they tore and tore and tore and tore – until there was no more. There was no smell, no sound, no scenery, no love. There was a silence.

~ Simon Jepps, 1990 (Aged 11)

Egyptian Grandmaster

Egyptian Grandmaster by Simon Jepps
Egyptian Grandmaster by Simon Jepps (©2004)
When I was in my twenties I started making minimalist ink sketches, with black ink on white canvas.

I still have a few in my collection, including a Certificate Of Sacred Art, awarded to me by Armando Farina, an Italian art instructor who happens to have known and even painted with Picasso.

The ink sketch which won the 1st place award is now lost somewhere amongst the art institution’s endless archives. However I can tell you it portrayed an eternal connundrum, of an artist drawing himself in an Italian park, drawing himself in an Italian park, drawing himself… etc.

Whilst I may never get that one particular picture back, here is one of the first drawings I ever made, titled ‘Egyptian Grandmaster’.

You can find all artworks from this collection under the category: sejink.