One Lick - Two Harps : How can practicing the chromatic harmonica make me a better diatonic player and vice versa?

University essay from Luleå tekniska universitet/Institutionen för konst, kommunikation och lärande

Abstract: The objective of this study was to see if practicing a lick on the chromatic harmonica could influence or inspire my playing on the diatonic harmonica, and vice versa. The licks I practiced were all in the style of Western Swing. To answer this, I used the following research questions: In what ways can practicing the chromatic harmonica make me a better diatonic harmonica player and vice versa? What are the similarities and differences between the diatonic and the chromatic harmonica in the context of playing Western Swing? What possibilities and limitations does each instrument have when playing Western Swing? The method I used was to record my practicing process and to record two different versions of three tunes. On these three recordings I improvised using both diatonic and chromatic harmonicas. The results showed that, though the differences between the instruments are significant, there is enough common ground to enable an exchange of ideas. The differences were not an obstacle, but a means to find new ways of playing a certain lick. These new ways could then be applied to the other harmonica, creating new variations on licks that I would not have come up with otherwise. Playing the same lick on the two different instruments proved to be an efficient way to learn more about both instruments. Through my method, I was able to become my own teacher and my own muse. I also discovered two distinct sides of me, the chromatic me and the diatonic me.

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