Page 1 of 1

Position/key/scale tables for Newton Fourkey tuning

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:08 pm
by IaNerd
I upload this post with trepidation.

Newton Fourkey is a big idea comprising hundreds of tiny details. I give myself slim odds that this post will last a whole day without need of minor or even major revision (pun slightly intended).

Here we go ....


download/file.php?mode=view&id=512 ... iew&id=515

Re: Position/key/scale tables for Newton Fourkey tuning

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:08 pm
by IaNerd

Re: Position/key/scale tables for Newton Fourkey tuning

Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:26 am
by EdvinW
(Everything said in this post assumes a C harmonica.)

Each Fourkey harp also has, in addition to the mentioned modes, one melodic minor scale, namely the minor parallel to the lowest of the 4 major keys. For example, a harp labelled in C has a harmonic Am scale:

Code: Select all

a  c  d  f  g  a
b  c# e  f# g# b
has the scale 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e', 'f#', 'g#', 'a', 'g', 'f', 'e', 'd', 'c', 'b', 'a'.

What's sort-of going on is that playing in 4th position lets you play either a normal major scale or a natural minor scale, and the various minor modes could (in a way) be viewed as having elements from both major and minor scales. Note also that this include all the notes to play in harmonic minor, as well as Dorian minor.

As 4th position also lets you play a Mixolydian scale, it seems to be a very free position to play in :)

3rd position lets you play a major, Mixolydian and the scale jazz people refer to as "melodic minor" , that is, a scale that starting from an 'a' looks like this: 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e', 'f#', 'g#', 'a', both going up and down.

2nd position lets you play a major scale or a Mixolydian scale.

1st position pretty much means you're stuck with the major scale. The notes outside the major scale are precisely those that are the least likely to show up as accidentals.

This far, the positions mentioned are those that can deliver a major scale without bends, but there are more positions! I will not go through them all here, but I'll mention one:

5th position. On a C harp that's the scales starting on an 'e'. Here, there we cannot get the major scale without bending, but we CAN get a natural minor scale and a Dorian scale.

I might continue tomorrow, but now I'm off for bed. Interestingly enough it seems first position is this far actually, in some sense, the WORST position to play! :lol:

Re: Position/key/scale tables for Newton Fourkey tuning

Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:32 am
by IaNerd

Thanks for those insights. I think I can add those features.

Keep the suggestions coming.

Re: Position/key/scale tables for Newton Fourkey tuning

Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:55 pm
by EdvinW
I put together a little table over which modes are available in which positions:

Code: Select all

Key on a C harp      |   C     G     D    A    E    B    F#   Db   Ab   Eb    Bb    F
Position             |  1st   2nd   3rd  4th  5th  6th  7th  8th  9th  10th  11th  12th
Standard Major       |   X     X     X    X
Natural Minor        |                    X    X    X    X
Mixolydian           |         X     X    X    X
Dorian               |               X    X    X    X              
Harmonic Minor       |                    X              X
"Jazz-Melodic" Minor |               X    X
True Melodic Minor   |                    X              
Etc. (?)             |
This far, 4th position really stands out as the most versatile! As if the massive mode coverage wasn't enough, it has it's fifth on a bendable draw note! This allows for ornamental bending on one of the most important notes. The major 3rd does not bend a full half step, but it should have some use for ornamentation in major keys.

I think the lines I completed are indeed complete, but there are definitely more lines to be added! Perhaps most importantly some blues scales, and of course major and minor pentatonic scales. Question: What are the modes where 4th position is NOT suitable?

Re: Position/key/scale tables for Newton Fourkey tuning

Posted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:52 pm
by oldstudent
Nice work, IaNerd and EdvinW! I agree completely that 4th position is the best on a Newton fourkey. I play in fourth position at least 70% of the time.

One of the nicest things about the 4th position is that both the standard (Ionian) major scale and the natural minor scale in 4th position have five notes in the same breath direction and two notes in the opposite direction. I find 5:2 to be the ideal mix: having five notes in the same direction makes the playing smoother, but it's also good to have two notes where you can reverse your breath for essential bodily respiration. In the 4th-position major scale it is 5 draw notes and 2 blow notes. In the 4th-position natural minor scale, it is 5 blow notes and 2 draw notes.
Tunes that shift between major and minor keys are a particular pleasure in 4th position on a fourkey.
Of course, it would be impossible to have a 5:2 breath split in a diatonic harmonica with any tuning that has less than 5 holes per octave.