isomorphic harmonica?

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skeldon
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isomorphic harmonica?

Post by skeldon » Mon May 31, 2021 12:01 am

I'm a newbie to this site, so apologies if it has been covered..I DID look up isomorph and nothing showed up, thus my post: It seems clear that chromatic harmonicas were designed as an afterthought of the diatonics, keeping the Blow/Draw sequence the same for diatonic notes of the "key" of the harp. I haven't found anything about the idea of 4 unique chromatic notes per hole, thus a full 12 semitones is contained within a 3 hole span. A four octave chromatic would thus have 12 holes. For those who shriek at this notion, European and Russian accordions use two different but similar isomorphic button layouts on the treble side making playing in any key one of only a few patterns. (I think Brendan has done something like this with the LUCKY 13.) It seems to me that playing things like bebop note enclosures would be easier on an isomorphic harmonica. Thoughts?

EdvinW
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Re: isomorphic harmonica?

Post by EdvinW » Mon May 31, 2021 11:50 am

Welcome to the forum!

The kind of tuning like you propose, with four unique notes in each hole, completely regular patterns and four octaves in twelve holes is commonly known as Augmented tuning, or Augy for short. It is to some extent discussed in some threads here (you can find them with the search function) and you can also find extensive discussions on other forums like Slidemeister.

It's nice in several ways. Any complete scale requires use of the slide, but the slide-in notes come in "blocks" of 3 or 4, so there is less of the choppy pushing required for some keys on a standard chromatic, especially sharp keys. As the notes are closer together, jumps are often shorter than in many other tunings. Also, the regularity of the tuning means that once you learn the pattern you can improvise and play in any key, without worrying about which key you are in. While it's possible to learn this with a standard chromatic as well, it's a MUCH shorter learning curve with the Augy.

That last point about regularity is also an advantage of another tuning, namely the Diminished tuning. It can be used either with a diatonic harmonica or a chromatic, and (as far as alternate tunings go) it's quite popular. The diatonic-harmonica version is indeed sold by Brendan as an option for his Lucky 13.
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Brendan
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Re: isomorphic harmonica?

Post by Brendan » Mon May 31, 2021 1:51 pm

It's also known as Wholetone Tuning, because each hole with slide out starts a whole tone above the previous one.

Yes, lots of good points, notably:

1. Only four blow-draw patterns to play in all 12 keys
2. The scale is compressed, so you get more range for a given number of holes

However it's more difficult to play in just one key than the 'easy' keys on Solo or Bebop, because you need several slide shifts to play a major scale. That can make it awkward, choppy and less fluid for simple major scale melodies played at speed.

One way around that is to half-valve it. This gives bend-enharmonicas (draw bend equivalents of regular notes) on half the notes. These can be used to reduce the slide shifts and give more of a legato flow to scales and phrases.

Seydel will make you one in their Configurator if you want to try it:
https://www.seydel1847.de/epages/Seydel ... 80%28sp%29

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triona
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Re: isomorphic harmonica?

Post by triona » Mon May 31, 2021 1:58 pm

Do we talk about something like this, concerning a slide chrom?

Image

The first one would be 3 octaves with 4 notes doubled, 1 in blow and 1 in draw each.
The second one would be 4 octaves with each note only once.
I did not yet think about possible chords and neither about breathing pattern maps for playing scales.
At least anything is alike throughout all the octaves.
And no bends provided for any note.


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Brendan
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Re: isomorphic harmonica?

Post by Brendan » Mon May 31, 2021 5:06 pm

Yes, the lower one is the Augmented/Wholetone Tuning that skeldon is asking about. Gary Lehmann did an amusing video on it several years ago:

https://youtu.be/t9Y682iZQ_E

Although Augmented/Wholetone is theoretically an excellent tuning in terms of pure logic, in practical playing terms it's a bit challenging. I don't know of anyone who's really done much significant playing on it.

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triona
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Re: isomorphic harmonica?

Post by triona » Mon May 31, 2021 5:42 pm

Brendan wrote:
Mon May 31, 2021 5:06 pm
Although Augmented/Wholetone is theoretically an excellent tuning in terms of pure logic, in practical playing terms it's a bit challenging. I don't know of anyone who's really done much significant playing on it.

Aha, sort of nerd solution? :lol:
I deduced it from your diminished diatonic.
That's what I meant with "I did not yet think about possible chords and neither about breathing pattern maps for playing scales." I nearly expected something like this.


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triona
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Brendan
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Re: isomorphic harmonica?

Post by Brendan » Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:43 am

I was trying to visualise the phrase maps for major scales from your diagram, Triona...

OBSERVATIONS
1. All four positions have two slide pushes, but this can often be reduced to one if you use draw bend-enharmonics.
2. The major third is always on the same breath and slide position the tonic - that's nice for phrases involving the lower part of the scale.
3. The fifth is always with a different slide position to the tonic and third. However, that can sometimes be changed with bend-enharmonics.
4. It's quite a 'huffy puffy' layout: lots of blow/draw notes in sequence, rather than same breath legato style.
5. The compressed scale is very useful. Especially in scales A/C#/F, having your fifth on the adjacent hole is nice.

This is just major scales. For licks and runs, with time I'm sure one could find ways to play them with flow and speed.

Augmented has been discussed on Slidemeister for several years. Here are a couple of threads for anyone interested:

https://www.slidemeister.com/forums/ind ... pic=2085.0

https://www.slidemeister.com/forums/ind ... ic=18133.0

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