Exploring a "Spiral-Chromatic" concept. Is this new?

Anything apart from the two mainstream default harmonicas (Solo-tuned fully-valved chromatic, and un-valved Richter 10-hole diatonic). Alternate tunings, different construction, new functionality, interesting old designs, wishful-thinking... whatever!
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IaNerd
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Exploring a "Spiral-Chromatic" concept. Is this new?

Post by IaNerd » Mon May 02, 2022 8:33 pm

In the past year or so I have become increasingly interested in tunings that are based on the general spiral/circular/helical concept. In the tuning below I have a slide (or Slideless! ;) ) type of chromatic harp. However, instead of having the two layers differ by one semitone between the "slide-in" and "slide-out" layers, we instead have one layer as C major and the other layer is a C#/Db major scale which has been offset "to the right" by one note, such that its blow/draw pattern is the opposite of the the octave to which it is juxtaposed. Therefore, deploying the slider results in a flattened note only when there is a "black key adjacent to the left", piano-wise. Therefore, C and F are not flattened when the slider is deployed.

Soon I want to elaborate on why this can matter. But first I want to ask all of you: "Is this new?"

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EdvinW
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Re: Exploring a "Spiral-Chromatic" concept. Is this new?

Post by EdvinW » Mon May 02, 2022 9:30 pm

Regarding novelty, at least the concept of of only raising the slide-in notes in certain places, in order to change the key, is something I've written about here:
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=646&p=2829#p2829

I used different keys than C/C# though. In the linked post I describe a theoretical double chromatic in keys C/A/F#/Eb, but I've only played two-key versions implemented with my midi-harp. I played around with it a while but didn't stick with it. It would be interesting to hear of your findings :)
Last edited by EdvinW on Sun May 08, 2022 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Exploring a "Spiral-Chromatic" concept. Is this new?

Post by triona » Tue May 03, 2022 11:45 am

EdvinW wrote:
Mon May 02, 2022 9:30 pm
... keys C/A/F#/Eb ...
That seems to me to be related to the "Diminished" tuning:

Image

Image

Image

This can start with each one of the notes without changing the 3 different blow-draw-patterns to play any key:

Image

... and so on.


This can also be implied in a slide harmonica. It is functioning with any of the combinations of the reedplates (tuning pattern No. 1, 2 and 3):

Image

This can start with any of the notes as well.
There are plenty of variations possible at choice.


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sinn féin - ça ira !
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Re: Exploring a "Spiral-Chromatic" concept. Is this new?

Post by IaNerd » Wed May 04, 2022 4:23 pm

The first post (above) shows a flat-slide version of this concept -- because flat-slide is my personal leaning. I am probably in the minority there.

In any case, here is the sharp-slide counterpart of this idea. Note that in both cases the tonics (and therefore the other scale degrees) of the major scales are out of phase with each other. Also, the low/middle/high pairs of juxtaposed (i.e. slide-in vs slide-out) octaves have opposite breath patterns -- and therefore complementary draw-bending scale degrees.

As I said in the first post (above), I am preparing a detailed explanation of why all of this can matter. Stay tuned ....

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Re: Exploring a "Spiral-Chromatic" concept. Is this new?

Post by IaNerd » Sun May 08, 2022 5:31 pm

So why might these tunings matter? Or, to put it a better way, to whom might these tunings matter?

I confess – as I did in another discussion – that I am a “living room” or “front porch” player. I can count my lifetime stage events on two hands. So for me the key in which I play a song is usually irrelevant. I am far more concerned about a melody’s mode. Playing a song in its native mode reduces or even eliminates the need to play accidentals. (Note: For me, playing bluesy melodies is a totally different story.)

Spiral tuning absolutely excels at playing modally, because for all seven modes there are only two breath patterns: blow for the tonic or draw for the tonic. These two breath patterns mirror each other and are the simplest possible patterns to learn and play.

Until …

we get to The Octave Change. (Duhn, duhn, DUHHH!)

With most tunings we insert an extra note (e.g. Solo, Bebop, Power Chromatic) or we eliminate one note (e.g. ED Harmonica, Easy 3rd) which preserves the breath pattern as we move to lower or higher octaves. Since Spiral tuning doesn’t have these corrective features, the breath pattern reverses every time one moves into lower or higher octaves.

And that’s a Problem.

Except … maybe It Isn’t.

You see, my style of playing – amateur as it is – usually conforms to the “nine is fine” principle of George Kelischek. https://www.susato.com/collections/nine-is-fine If you don’t already know about George, look him up. https://youtu.be/qRFiNUiIJ50 He is in my opinion a national treasure of the USA. In an email to me once Mr. Kelischek said:
I named one of my series of instrumental settings “Nine Is Fine”, because no part in any of those compositions exceeds the range of one octave plus one, the ninth note. No “overblowing” is necessary to play those tunes, which makes them suitable for nine-note instruments such as gemshorns and most capped double reeds like Kelhorns, Crumhorns, Cornamuses, etc…
I am not saying that every single melody on the planet can – or even should -- be played with just nine notes. I would however posit that a person can accomplish a whole big boatload (metric or imperial) of music using only an octave and, when needed, a bit more.

Hey, if you really like to play a melody in one octave and then jump to another octave, check this out: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=875#p3916

So now, with “modal playing” and “nine is fine” in mind, let’s consider this Spiral-Chromatic concept. We have a tuning that is truly chromatic; all of the flats (or sharps, if you prefer) are there. And it can easily be played in any mode. And when we are playing within a native mode which doesn’t have accidentals per se, we can actually choose between blow-for-tonic or draw-for-tonic. Zig or zag.

And when we do wander just a note or two from the main octave, we might not even notice that the breath direction has switched. No “road bumps” of extra corrective notes that need to be skipped over. I’ll take that trade 95% of the time.

But wait ... there's more! Never forget that the chordal capabilities of Spiral tunings are bested only by dedicated "chord harmonicas".

So is this a “pro” tuning concept? Probably not. But if you are a “front porch” player of melodies – like I am – this tuning might suit you well.

P.S. - I am seriously considering having my first Seydel NonSlider configured as shown in the first post (above).

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Re: Exploring a "Spiral-Chromatic" concept. Is this new?

Post by IaNerd » Tue May 10, 2022 4:45 pm

Seydel's Configurator can handle Spiral (they say Circular) tunings with low ends as low as C3 (130.81 Hz).

By the way, my inner scientist/mathematician would say that in context of harmonica tunings, Spiral is not an appropriate term. In my opinion, Circular is a better term and Helical is perhaps the best. But then again, a harp by any other name would sound as sweet.

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Re: Exploring a "Spiral-Chromatic" concept. Is this new?

Post by EdvinW » Tue May 10, 2022 10:51 pm

Thanks for the read, Patrick!

One nice thing you didn't note about your sharp slide version is that the nice chords for playing minor tunes.

You are right that spiral tuning is great for playing in different modes, but a great drawback is that it only works for those modes that can be played on white keys of a piano. To play major sevenths and sixths, which are quite common in minor tunes in some kinds of music, you must often resort to bending or a chromatic. While both of these work for pure melodies, getting any chords require special tunings.

Your tuning gives all the chords of the church modes and all accidentals PLUS the major E and B chords, the major dominants (or V-chords) of Am and Em, respectively. These are the chords that give diatonics in Harmonic Minor tuning their distinct and authentic sound when used for Gypsy jazz, Scandinavian folk, Tango and various other styles.

This variation thus extends the "standard" advantages of spiral tuning to modes with occasional (or permanently!) raised sevenths, in a way that previous spiral chroms where the slide raises every note simply can't compete with. Good job!

Edit: Of course you could use this with the flat slide version as well, if you play in Bbm with the main scale slide-in!

Regarding the name, my own inner mathematician prefers Spiral over both circular and helical, but I guess that's subjective. When I try to think of the most accurate name possible, I come up with Alternating, or possibly even Strictly Alternating Church-modes. :)
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Re: Exploring a "Spiral-Chromatic" concept. Is this new?

Post by IaNerd » Wed May 11, 2022 11:55 am

Strictly Alternating Church-modes = SAtChMo? ;)

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Re: Exploring a "Spiral-Chromatic" concept. Is this new?

Post by EdvinW » Wed May 11, 2022 3:09 pm

IaNerd wrote:
Wed May 11, 2022 11:55 am
Strictly Alternating Church-modes = SAtChMo? ;)
I know! :D It's a wonder such a simple and appealing name hasn't caught on already :lol:
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Re: Exploring a "Spiral-Chromatic" concept. Is this new?

Post by IaNerd » Thu May 12, 2022 8:41 pm

Here viewtopic.php?f=9&t=829&sid=18df62d8221 ... 92cb#p3642 I explored the combination of Spiral tuning with something that I termed “Double Lead Tone” or DLT. In DLT, there is a periodic “resetting” of the blow/draw pattern which occurs by repeating the leading tone. This AB -- BC – DE – FG pattern appears to be of my own invention. Note that in the post just cited I was working with tunings that are not fully chromatic without the use of draw-bends.

Then later on here viewtopic.php?f=9&t=875#p3916 I used DLT in conjunction with Slide Diatonic. There again, these were tunings that are not fully chromatic without the use of draw-bends.

Now in the two tunings below, I combine Spiral (to get the tasty chords, as explained by Edvin, above) with Double Lead Tone (to thereafter begin rectifying the breath direction) in an atypical slide-chromatic fashion (because all of the scale degrees are staggered or offset). Because, you know, straight Spiral is not universally loved; some folks just gotta have that repeating breath direction. ;)

So we get … what?

Chromatic with Offset Tonics Spiral then Double Lead Tone (or COTS-DLT) ?? Good lord!

Note that all of the advantages of Spiral (i.e. great chords and easy blow-draw play in most modes) are preserved in holes 1 through 6.

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