Mudcat Café message #881983 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #25110   Message #881983
Posted By: Bob Bolton
03-Feb-03 - 10:10 PM
Thread Name: Help: Good Harmonica for Beginner?
Subject: RE: Help: Good Harmonica for Beginner?
G'day Fifer,

I think this thread has started out in hardcore vamper territory! The chromatic is a great melody instrument, but most of the thread looks as if it wants the instrument to be a harmonica ... and instrument that delivers the built-in chords of the Richter tuning scheme ... and a few that have been prised out of it by Blues and other innovators, &c.

At some time or other, I have played almost all the descriptions of smaller mouth organs - stopping somewhere round about the dedicated bass and chord instruments of the old bands. The Chromatic is, as you say, great for the expression and control possible in melody playing - and I love for just this.

The area where I really get into arguments with chromatic players ... is when I point out that the one thing a chromatic, in intent and performance, is not ... is a harmonica! While it does retain a fair part of the basic Richter chords ... that's not what you play in chromatic playing - and, as soon as you really play chromatically, in keys other than the base key, the chords are all discordant ... while the vamper, happily puffing away in its base key(s) is revelling in harmony.

It's all semantics - but I usually mention this in response to chromatic players who disparage vampers with remarks like: "Yes, but they aren't real harmonicas ... &c". It's all music - and there are some wonderful and diverse traditions on the vamper - and some beautifuul music played on the chromatic.


Bob Bolton