From: Winslow Yerxa <;>;
Date: 17 Nov 95 13:16:05 EST
Subject: Chromatic Technique


Doug Tate writes

I teach playing loudly with lowish set reads a different
way to Winslow.

Actually, I'm not sure I teach it at all. But I do know from
experience the pitfalls a diatonic blues player is likely to
encounter. Your lessons are a welcome addtion to this thread.

Andrew Demack asks about bending on a chromatic. Mike Curtis
weighs in with the essential advice that you have to do it a
little softer on a fully valved instrument. As with the other
thread, a chromatic attacked like a diatonic with too much force
will refuse to speak (perhaps an application of Doug's cough to
bending would be an interesting experiment).

Yes, valve removal can facilitate draw bends while leaving blow
bends still available, and Brendan Power does this to very good
effect. But it's far from necessary, as the chromatic bending
abilities of Toots Thielemans, Stevie Wonder and others amply

There's one other bit of advice, an observation I made while
writing about chromatic bending for a forthcoming book.

With diatonic (or unvalved) bending, the front-to-back location
of the C-spot (the place in the mouth where the airflow is
narrowed, thus changing the resonant frequency of the mouth and
creating a bend) is critical, but the size of the C-spot opening,
once established, doesn't seem to matter to the pitch of the bend
(aside from turning the bend on or off). But with fully-valved
instruments, the *size* of the opening will vary the bend - a
tighter aperture will lower the pitch of the note.

Why this is, I don't know. We're looking at pure single-reed
bends here, not the two-reed opening phenomenon found in unvalved
diatonics. This is something Johno didn't address, as far as I
remember, in his paper on bending.

Winslow Yerxa
Harmonica Information Press

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