Brendan Power

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As you can probably tell from the name 'Brendan Power', I have an Irish background. Though born in Kenya and raised in New Zealand, I heard Irish music as a kid on my Dad's records, and always loved the sound. Inspired to pick up the harmonica after hearing the sublime Sonny Terry play the blues, it wasn't long before I was starting to try and play the Irish tunes that had appealed to me in childhood.

I soon found that standard harmonicas had some serious limitations when it came to emulating the flow, speed and beautiful ornamentation characteristic of traditional Irish music, as played on the commonly-used instruments such as fiddle, flute, whistle, pipes and button-box. I wanted to get 'that sound': to augment the harmonica's natural soulfullness with truly authentic stylistic expressions to create a harp style which respected the traditional approach but added a new voice.

I studied the music intensively, and found that the only way to achieve what I was after was to change the harmonica itself. The three main innovations I have created for Irish harmonica are Paddy Richter Tuning, the Slide Diatonic, and the Irish Session Harp. However, these tunings and harmonicas are great for other types of folk and melody playing too.

Paddy Richter Tuning is a whimsical name I coined for this slightly altered scale, as it was originally for the small 10 hole diatonic - which is in what's commonly called Richter Tuning. It involves just a small change: raising the 3 blow a tone to get the missing sixth in the home scale. That tiny one-note change makes a huge difference! Suddenly you can play Irish jigs and reels on the diatonic harp with great speed and facility.

I first recorded with Paddy Richter on my 1994 album New Irish Harmonica and since then it has become widely known and quite popular. I've written a book for it, and also offer hand-tuned Paddy Richter diatonics to go with the book or buy separately.

The Slide Datonic comes in 12 hole Solo Tuning and 10 hole Paddy Richter Tuning. It is a retuning for slider chromatic harmonicas that gives the player in-key slider notes. The slider is great for trills, turns, cuts, rolls and other decorations characteristic of Irish music, but it always raises the note a semitone. You can get away with it, as the slider notes go by very fast, but it is not really authentic for the modal-based scales of the Irish tunes. To overcome that problem I retuned the slider notes to the home scale of the instrument, to give a really sweet, authentic traditional sound akin to that of the whistle, flute and fiddle. Check the links above for more info and to hear the Slkide Diatonic in action.

My unique Irish Session Harp is a single harmonica with the two main keys of Irish music (G and D) built in! The slider has no spring, so you can instantly select one or other of the keys without changing harps. I first sold it as the Trad Session Harp from 2000, and it's now available again. The Irish Session Harp comes in two versions: 12-hole Solo Tuning, and the latest, 10-hole Paddy Richter Tuning. Click the links for more info and video clips.

These harmonicas are not just for Irish music. Many use them to play other folk melodies, and even pop tunes! I have found the Slide Diatonic is also great for Chinese music, as the slider trills emulate the sound of the Dizi, the popular Chinese flute. You can hear the Slide Diatonic playing a Chinese tune below:

Brendan demonstrates Paddy Richter
Paddy Richter is the whimsical name I gave to a simple tuning I devised to play Irish music on the 10 hole diatonic harmonica, first recorded on my New Irish Harmonica album of 1994. The standard harp tuning is known as Richter Tuning, the Irish are often affectionately called Paddies... and so Paddy Richter was born.

Along with Paddy Richter tuning, I also invented half-valving on the harmonica (there is more detailed info on both further down the page). Half-valving really helps on harps used for Irish music, because it makes the important blow notes play louder, sweeter and with more soul.
Paddy Richter tuning only has one note different to standard Richter, but what a difference that small change makes! On a normal harp, hole two draw and three blow are the same note. I took advantage of that duplication to raise three blow by a tone to get the missing note you normally have to obtain via a tricky draw bend. On a G harp it would raise the D in hole three to E:

Tuning Diagram

Tuning Diagram

This makes a massive difference to the ease of melody playing on the 10 hole harp. Suddenly tunes that were very hard to play lay out beautifully - including Irish jigs and reels. These are played fast, and it's impossible to get that essential missing note (the 6th of the home scale) accurately at speed via bending. Paddy Richter builds it in to the scale as a simple blow note on hole 3. Suddenly the humble blues harp is transformed into an instrument that can easily keep up with flying fiddles, pipes and flutes at an Irish session!



You can order the same excellent Suzuki Promaster MR-350V Half-Valved harmonicas in Paddy Richter Tuning that I use for Irish Music, in all 12 keys (plus Low F and High G). All harps are retuned to Paddy-Richter by hand. Check the many positive Customer Comments on these harps.

Lucky 13 Option

I'm now also offering Paddy Richter in 13-hole 4 octave format, in the form of my unique Lucky 13 harp. It gives you all the benefits of PowerBender/PowerDraw/Paddy Richter (choose one as appropriate), PLUS an extra low octave to extend the range. The Lucky 13 is like two harps in one, excellent value and a very good harp out of the box.
Here's a famous reel, "The Bucks of Oranmore", played on a Paddy Richter harp in D
Video demonstrating Half-Valving

I've written a popular Instruction Book with 55 Track CD demonstrating how to play Irish Music on the 10 hole harp, including Paddy Richter instruction and examples. Click the link for more info and check out the comments on the book/CD and ProMaster harmonicas from many satisfied customers.
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Alloy Comb, Phosphor Bronze Reeds, Half-Valved



(£67.50 each if you buy three or more)




(£35 each if you buy three or more)

Suzuki have famously durable reeds, but even they will fail after a lot of use. If a reed goes on your Promaster you can save money by buying replacement reedplates instead of the whole harp. The new plates are already in Paddy Richter tuning, and it's a simple job to swap out the old ones.

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