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Re: OVERBLOWING - Where to From Here?

Posted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:46 pm
by Brendan
Thanks for your comments Andre and Winslow. I'm of the opinion overall harp design is a more fruitful avenue to explore than improving reed efficiency on the current type of harp.

Winslow, could you supply a better photo of the Discrete Comb than the one I found earlier in this thread?

Re: OVERBLOWING - Where to From Here?

Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:03 am
by Brendan
As noted, I feel that the current 10-hole 20-reed harps, based on the iconic Hohner Marine Band design from 1896, have reached the end of their tether when it comes to their ability to give the increasing sophistication of overblow players what they need in order to fully express themselves in the future.

To me, it seems hard to imagine improved reed design (as suggested by Richard Sleigh) giving much more than an incremental improvement over a super-customised existing Marine Band from overblow setup experts like Richard himself, Joe Spiers, Joe Filisko etc. Those guys and many others who do overblow setups have pretty much taken the MB 1896-type harp to the end of the line in terms of what it can do. Top players get a lot from it, but the intrinsic limitations and drawbacks of pure overblow playing (listed earlier in this thread) remain.

I think what is needed to allow great overblow players to go to the next level is an Overblow Chromatic. This would be un-valved and have the same hole-spacing and size as a standard 10 hole harp. However it would have 20 reeds per reedplate, 40 altogether, and some kind of air-shifting mechanaism (eg. a frontal slider) to switch between what would be esentially two harps in one.

The obvious combination would be two harps a semitone apart, like C and C#, as on a standard chromatic. However other tunings for the extra 20 reeds could easily be envisaged if players wanted to use them.

It would need to allow the players to be as close (or nearly as close) to the reeds as they are on a stock 20 reed harp, to allow the fine embouchure control of bending and overbending they use now. They could play the harp slide-out exactly as they play a stock overblow harp. However push the slide in these is the extra option to play all chromatic notes as un-bent notes. They in turn can be bent and overbent.

This doubling of the reeds with same sound and abilities would give a HUGE number of extra musical possibilities for creative players. More to come...

Re: OVERBLOWING - Where to From Here?

Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:36 pm
by CrawfordEs
Sounds excellent!
I'd prefer it set up half-valved instead of an overblow set up, but that's just me.
The ability to switch combs/ reedplates out easily would be awesome too.

Re: OVERBLOWING - Where to From Here?

Posted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:14 pm
by harpdog123
How about a valve that would open and/or close when the player used their overblow technique? The valve would automatically shut off the non overblow reed when an overblow was played or take you into another chamber with an overblow reed similar to Winslow's discreet comb.

Where's Jim Antaki when you need him?

David Pearce

Re: OVERBLOWING - Where to From Here?

Posted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:07 pm
by Felix
Brendan wrote:
Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:13 am

3. Suzuki Overdrive, designed by Masaru Hashimoto
This is yet another idea along the same lines, a compact design without moving parts where the upper and lower covers have chambers above each reed that can be sealed or opened by the player's fingers to isolate individual reeds. Like the Discrete Comb, it is bi-functional: easier, louder overbends and isolated reed bending, depending on which holes you close. It's still available to buy if you want to try it:
I think the problem of the Overdrive was that it feels like playing a recorder, if one was really trying to use the possibilities of finger-valved bend and fingerblocked overblow.
And those points get even worse if a handheld microphone should be used.

An another idea in the same direction could be a valve plate, controlled by a slider like on the Turboslide.

Re: OVERBLOWING - Where to From Here?

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:27 am
by Brendan
Thanks for the ideas, David and Felix.

David: That would be great in theory, but I don't think a simple check valve could work to do what you propose. Since it would be activated to close by the blow breath, how could it distinguish between a normal blow and an overblow?

Felix: Both the overdrive or a moveable plate as in Henry Bahnson's harp have been available for a long time but no serious overblow players have wanted to use them. I think it's because their fingers can't keep up with the speed of their embouchure control in terms of providing glitch-free note transitions.

Re: OVERBLOWING - Where to From Here?

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:43 am
by Felix
Igor Flach used the Overdriveharp a lot and used it to create his pretty unique sound.

Another point why harmonicas like those aren´t used so much, could be that many harmonicaplayers look to much on tradition (and in the most cases only on the chicago blues tradition), and those who take other ways with confidence are very few.

Re: OVERBLOWING - Where to From Here?

Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:49 am
by Brendan
Igor was great - cruel fate that he died so young.

I agree most Blues players are very traditional-minded about the harmonica, but we're talking about overblow players in this context, who aim to play jazz and other forms of music requiring chromaticism.

I suppose even they are quite traditional in their own way, using basically the same harps and techniques pioneered by Howard Levy while ignoring anything different. But if you think of how it works, a very fast and intricate combination of bends and over bends, it would be hard to coordinate finger or slide action perfectly in synch. I think that's why the many diatonics I listed earlier that use some kind of hand assist action to help overblows have not caught on - even though they make overblows stronger and better-sounding.

But maybe it's just that players have not given them enough attention. Igor did with the Overdrive, and showed it could sound good. The human body is incredibly adaptable - with practice you can achieve almost anything.

Actually this discussion relates to the Lekhokm DM48, the new MIDI harmonica. I designed a 10-hole mouthpiece and small bending unit for it:

The bending is done by finger action, mimicking the mouth bends. I make the bend actions in my mouth even though the finger dies the bends. After a while it gets faster and smoother.

With Richter tuning selected, the right slider could be programmed to give the same notes as you get with overblows/overdraws. For experienced overblowers, they can do the same actions in their mouth while operating the right slider for over bends and the joystick for bends.

The attraction of being able to use their existing techniques to get the wealth of sounds available from MIDI could unlock the door for some of those neglected hand-assist acoustic overblow harps discussed earlier in this thread...

Re: OVERBLOWING - Where to From Here?

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:45 am
by Felix
One other reason to stick on the normal bluesharps might be the promise of simplicity. By promise of simplicity i mean the aspect Jason Ricci does here:

And this is basically the same message that i got out off Levy´s Out of the box. Just a harp twenty reeds, some customizing, and lots of practicing and anything i possible.

And the same search for simplicity let me playing much more chromatic harmonica lately, because there i have my 48 reeds and practice, and neeed no reedworking for chromatic scale.

On the other hand i´m still looking foreward for your xreed chromatic, for the combination of both aspects.

Re: OVERBLOWING - Where to From Here?

Posted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:17 pm
by Felix
Another aspect for the sticking with normal richter tuned harps could also be the whiff of mystery which they still have (at least to peoble who know
just little about the harmonica) when someone plays chromatic or bluesy stuff.