Melodica ~ Picasso Styling By Jepps

Melodica ~ Picasso Styling By JeppsLadies & Gentlemen, indeed gracious Boys & Girls also, please welcome into the world the divine and most beautiful face… of the Melodica Picasso.

If you have been following my custom Melodica posts you will notice I have specifically chosen to title this post with the official term ‘Melodica’, rather than my own term ‘Keytoy’. This is because I feel that this, my latest design, namely the Melodica Picasso, is the truest portrayal of the instrument in a professional light.

It is this portrayal which I feel gives divine utterance unto the authentic term ‘Melodica’ and with it a long awaited endorsement of its orchestral designation.

The problem with the Melodica is, unlike all other orchestral instruments, it has always appeared ‘unhappy’ or ‘uncomfortable’ with its own face. This is because having originally evolved from a child’s toy, it never had a professional face to begin with.

For as long as it has existed, the Melodica has retained the same appearance as that with which it was born with. Thus it has always harboured the toy-like face of its original conception.

Yet the Melodica is without shadow of a doubt one of the most professional instruments you may ever have the sacred pleasure of hearing. Make no mistake.

And I myself, a lounge pianist for over twenty years, I have heard this instrument crying to me in the night, pleading for me to please, please, please create and reveal unto the world… its true face.

It says, “I was born a child but I am now a sage. Please adorn me a garment worthy of my name.”

I believe therefore, if there were a standard, as there is with a clarinet, a saxophone or a trumpet, then the Melodica Picasso is where the Melodica finally stands up, puts on its dinner jacket and exclaims, “Listen! I am the embodiment of Jazz itself!”

I built the Melodica Picasso much in the same way as my other custom Melodica stylings, by mixing and matching components from various Hohner branded Melodicas. It’s all Hohner.

The Melodica Picasso features genuine Hohner white & black naturals, white & black sharps, both a genuine black casing and brilliant white mouth piece. Again, it’s all Hohner.

Now you ask, “Why did you call it the Picasso?”.

Well first of all let me explain why the design. A Piano has white naturals and black sharps. A Harpsichord has black naturals and white sharps. The Melodica however is a relatively modern instrument in comparison and until what I feel is this day, today, it had not yet evolved a true relative identity within the keyboard family.

Jazz. To answer the question. The Melodica is the very embodiment of jazz and so, it occurred to me that therefore the instrument should portray that element of its character in relation to the other keyboard instruments in the family.

Thus the Melodica Picasso is a blending of both Piano and Harpsichord styling, whereby alternating octaves display an alternating pattern of white on black and black on white. This 37 key instrument features two half octaves at each end, similarly alternating with the pattern, each embracing the two full center octaves in splendid glory.

I believe absolutely that the Melodica Picasso portrays the instrument’s character completely.

And so… unto Picasso.

It is not merely an artistic ‘label’. Nor do I consider myself a ‘picasso’ in like-mindedness. No, it is because firstly, I genuinely have an adoration for the artist and secondly, I happen to have met and dined with some of his closest friends. Some of whom painted with him at college.

Melodica ~ Picasso Styling By JeppsAt the turn of the millennium I was living and working in Italy as an English teacher, where on my joyous travels, I met many artists with whom I became closest friends. It was here during this time, that I happened to discover how these artists were also close friends of Pablo Picasso himself.

Here, the International Academy Of Art in Turin, of which my friends were administrators, awarded me a 1st Place Certificate In Sacred Art for an abstract illusionary pencil drawing of an “infinite garden painter”. Whilst I wouldn’t claim my “sketch” to be a masterpiece, I am certainly most honoured for the prize.

So there you have it. Good times.

Oh… there is also of course the fact that Pablo Picasso happened to be famous for wearing striped shirts. Yes, that’s it. Striped shirts. Well what do ya know.

God bless and goodnight.

Vanilla Gershwin Grand ~ Turbolid Custom Covers

Vanilla Turbo Lid
Behold the Vanilla Gershwin Grand, my personal choice of Turbolid combination.
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.

This is one reason I prefer the ten hole Blues Harp over the grander twelve hole Chromatic Harmonicas.

At least it certainly has become so ever since I discovered ‘Country Tuning’, a gentle change in pitch of the 5 draw to a sharp note, creating a Major 7th chord in 2nd position. Miraculously, this simple change in the pitch of a single reed actually harbours, unto the dedicated artist, a whole library of jazz chords and phrases.

Yet the reason I am writing today, is to spread the word about a fabulous company in the USA, Turbo Harp, who, amongst their many revolutionary innovations in harmonica evolution, created the Turbo Lid, a specially shaped ergonomic cover lid for your ten hole blues harmonica.

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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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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.

Psax Advice: Low C & High DEF Resonance

Xaphoon Fingering Chart
Xaphoon Fingering Chart
When learning to play any reed instrument, inevitably one will stumble into obstacles like squeaks, silences and unwelcome vibrations.

Most of these things are regular novice issues which can be researched and remedied easily enough.

When it comes to the Pocket Sax however, there are a handful of hurdles remaining on the horizon even whence one has acquired a good grasp of the instrument.

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Xaphoon by Zariah

Xaphoon by Zariah ArtHere is a wonderful painting created by a female artist in Maui, Hawaii, who goes by the name Zariah.

As far as I am aware, this piece is actually called “Riddle”, but what draws one’s attention is the unique instrument tucked under the boy’s arm.

Without doubt, a Xaphoon, since the artist herself is from the exact same region where Brian Wittman invented it back in 1972.

This picture is actually a cropping of a much larger work of art, featuring this loveable but mischievous boy, having a laugh amongst the gardens with his friends.

Strikingly, he reminds me of Peter Pan, yet more to the point, if the Pocket Sax had actually been invented during J.M. Barrie’s lifetime, would the Xaphoon have then been the actual flute of Peter Pan?

Looks fairly conclusive to me.

Zariah Art

Sax In My Pocket

Pocket sax jeppsOriginally a lounge Pianist, yet forever intimidated by its inconvenience of size, expense and formality, I found myself in a passionate love affair with a new instrument.

Invented in 1972 by Brian Wittman, a Hawaiian musician, guru and gentleman, the Xaphoon®, more popularly known as The Pocket Sax, is a Trumpet sized Saxophone, that not only fits in your pocket, but whence the dedication and mutual embrace is spoken, will turn your mind inside out as it screams the blue soul of a real Saxophonist.

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Saxpet

Xaphoon pocket sax simon jepps tutorial
Saxpet ~ Saxophone, Clarinet & Trumpet
Subconsciously, whilst I will always refer to the Xaphoon as the Pocket Sax, it has always been in my heart to call it my “Saxpet”.

This is not merely because it feels like a mutually adoring “pet”, but in a technical sense also.

Brian Wittman, the instrument’s inventor, describes the Xaphoon as a combination of, or more accurately the middle ground between, the Saxophone and the Clarinet.

Yet whence having played the instrument at volume in an orchestral Jazz setting, in particularly the hard and indestructible resin model, you feel it to absorb and harness the strong energy of the brass instruments being played.

Indeed to say, the Trumpet.

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Mission Pocketable

Pocket sax tutorialSome could argue the Xaphoon to be much like a Ukulele, in that its size deems it flawed by design. Yet there are many Ukulele players who are obviously not dissuaded by this, indeed myself occasionally included.

No, the Xaphoon is not flawed. It is however, very difficult to master. Oh, this is not to say the average novice will be unable to enjoy it, no, this is to say that the average professional Xaphoonist would have spent ten years perfecting it.

The difference between a Xaphoon and a Pocket Sax…? Bamboo die hards aside… depends how good you are.

First things first. I know what you are seeking. The sound of a Sax in your pocket. Yet you fear it to only raspberry, much like a Kazoo. This is a common misconception, seeded by poor examples of play, by amateurs trying too hard, as if to make a baby iron a suit.

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