Merging "Spiral" with "Slide-Diatonic"

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!
Post Reply
User avatar
IaNerd
Posts: 572
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:42 pm
Location: Iowa, USA

Merging "Spiral" with "Slide-Diatonic"

Post by IaNerd » Fri May 06, 2022 5:12 pm

Here in the USA we used to have television ads depicting hypothetical “accidents” whereby a chocolate bar is crashed into peanut butter, thereby inspiring one of our more popular candies. Here I want to explore what happens when we crash Spiral/Circular/Helical tuning with Brendan Power’s 12-hole Slide Diatonic concept. For background on the former I recommend this article by Robert “Crazy Bob” Coble: https://harp-l.org/pipermail/harp-l/201 ... 00755.html For the latter, see this page by Brendan Power: https://www.brendan-power.com/discontinued-harps.php Note that Slide Diatonic harps can still be had via Seydel’s Configurator.

In his article, Coble points out a feature of Spiral tuning which can be viewed as a disadvantage:
“The breath direction change occurs on the octave, every octave.”

However, if we think of Spiral tuning in terms of each of its modes (e.g. Ionian, Dorian, etc.), now we see that each octave has seven possible tonics at which the breath-flip can occur.

Let us consider how this comes into play with a specific melody. For this illustration we will consider a 12-hole Slide Diatonic harp tuned spirally in C major.

Now let us choose a song to play: “God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen”. If you want to play this song in G# minor with its five sharps, you are free to do so. Just make sure your slider is lubed up. But since this tune is basically a natural minor (i.e. Aeolian) song, you could save a lot of hassle by playing it in the key of A minor. Doing so completely eliminates the need for a slider.

What if we play that same melody but in D minor? We occasionally have to play a Bb note. And we can do this in several different ways by utilizing the Bb draw-bend which occurs in many places in the diagram below.

If one wishes to repeat a passage but at at the next higher (or next lower) octave, the slider affords this without having to reverse the blow-draw pattern.

In summary, if we are willing to play songs in their “native modes” or nearly so, and are not so concerned about matching the song key of other performers, 12-hole Slide Diatonic Spiral is a very versatile and easy tuning which gives the player on-the-fly choice of breath pattern within most tunes.

(*If you are playing jazz with lots of goofy accidentals, look elsewhere.)

download/file.php?mode=view&id=842
Attachments
2022-05-06 (2).png
2022-05-06 (2).png (40.75 KiB) Viewed 300 times
Last edited by IaNerd on Sat May 07, 2022 2:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
IaNerd
Posts: 572
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:42 pm
Location: Iowa, USA

Re: Merging "Spiral" with "Slide-Diatonic"

Post by IaNerd » Sat May 07, 2022 10:34 am

I studied the database of over 25,000 songs at https://www.hooktheory.com/cheat-sheet/key-popularity and found this:

By diatonic modes:
Ionian 50.4%
Aeolian 39.5%
Dorian 3.8%
Mixolydian 3.7%
Phrygian 1.1%
Lydian 1.1%
Locrian 0.3%

Post Reply