Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spending Money Like THEM: harmonica review

Spending money I don't have for that which I do not really need.  Reminds me of guitar players I have known.  They will hock the house for a new guitar (new to them), gadget or accessory that is not essential.  I have been guilty of just such lack of fiduciary conscience.  However THEM can easily have broader reference.

Conscience: from the gypsy words "con" and "science"; the science of con. How to dupe effectively

So, I happened upon a video with Jason Ricci talking up the Suzuki Manji M-20 harp, claiming you can get overblows and overdraws on most notes with little or no tweaking.
couldn't keep still, sorry for the blur

On most harps, you can't do the over-bends without taking the thing apart and messing with the gap and arc of the reeds, embossing the slots in which the reeds vibrate, etc.  Those things are little, and can be brittle.  Also, if you get a reed slightly rotated it will hit the sides of its stall and life goes south.  Very hard to get it back right, in most cases.  I'm batting zero on that.

Jason was right. These harps do play differently.  Not for players who value force over technique.   They are highly responsive to just a whisper of breath, even on the highest note of the C harp.   It takes very little air to get a rich, authoritative tone.

I'm not yet very good at overblows and overdraws.  That is what they are called.  How it works is that you change the shape where the back of your tongue hits the soft part to stop airflow.  Called the H-spot, I guess because it is the part that acts if you were to say "hey" several times in rapid staccato succession.  You feel it as the word is cut at the end.

What happens on a blow note is that you are choking off the normally vibrating blow reed and the draw reed then vibrates at a higher pitch.  Ideally.  Once you master getting the blow reed choked by changing the shape at the back of your mouth, getting the other reed to cooperate is not always so easy.

You know it when you hit it--the tone comes out bright and loud.  The trick is how the air is flowing, not how hard.  Too much force and you get nowhere.

These diatonic harps come in different keys, 2 reeds per hole, 10 holes and in 2 cases notes are repeated.  Just how it is.  Bending notes down in pitch has been in play forever.  Just about any harp off the shelf is good for that.  Bending notes up is a relatively new thing.

For me, the Suzuki Manji M-20  is probably the best bet for incorporating over blows and draws.   Overdraw= when you bend a draw note up in pitch.  You breathe in and out on harmonica--different note drawing than blowing in the same hole.  Can't talk harp without it sounding kinky.

The body or comb is made of some kind of composite synthetic material. It is better than wood or plain plastic, in my book.  If the reeds are as healthy as Ricci claims, then they may last awhile.

I've seen Ricci at seminars and such, and found that he gives information in a way I grasp, and he doesn't ever appear to be leaving stuff out or over complicating things.  I pretty much trust his word.  That's why I bought 2 harps for lots of money I don't have.

Didn't see any in minor key tuning, so I guess I can do it on the major key harps when I become fluent in the bends I'd need.   I can do minors on major key harps now, but the scope is highly limited.

Manji has stainless cover plates which seem much better than the usual.  They have that Marine Band thing with the edges of the reed plates forming sides of the note openings rather than the full plastic face of the Lee Oskar--which is gentler on the lips, usually.  On the Manji, I don't mind the way it feels.

If you want to play fast and bend notes with ease, this is the harp.  But they are pricey.  Cheapest I found was just over $50.  If you can not play gently and be happy, buy something else.  But if you want as broad a range dynamically as I've experienced, the Manji it is.

Lee Oskars are still good.  These have a certain versatility those don't.  If they last like Oskar's harps, then we are on to something.

Why did I get these, and why am I posting this if I don't much feel like playing anywhere?  I sure don't know.   I'm not happy with my inability to create and establish a rhythm that makes me want to dance, and I don't feel what I do brings out any of the thrills I'd hope.  I am strong on tone and nuance and playing clean notes.  Yippy.

I should have been a physicist.
PS: they can say what they want, but what I think happens on bends like these is that slight changes in the air chamber (back of mouth/top of throat) cause a certain turbulent flow which spins in the right way to affect the reed you are working.  Since you have vibrations involved, one can learn to sense and control it.  You feel it.

Everybody's Talking At Me

I know I should be concerned, and have an opinion on a whole range of issues, preferably assigning the role of hated villain to some group or individual in each case.

Turning to Huffington Post, I find that an easy villain is the GOP because they hate women, are all rabid racists and celebrated after the Newtown massacre.  Perusing other sources, I find that democrats are totalitarian communists who want to enslave me and take any money I may have now or ever.  Sometimes, I must admit, I tend to believe the extreme view of democrats.

However, the truth is that the GOP is as riddled with bad logic, ridiculous causes, and deception as their supposed opponents.

Both the major groups hate libertarians.  With good reason, because anything that trends in favor of a libertarian take, necessarily limits the power of both Republicans and Democrats.   I was a bit surprised to see such vitriol toward libertarians here and there in news forums.  In some circles "libertarian" is as bad an epithet as "republican".  One of those things where the word loses meaning, just becomes an insult of vague definition.

 I'm not sure what all libertarian views are on everything, anyway.  I know I lean that way but I also know they sometimes trip over the ideology.  I rarely find the RNC or DNC have any consistent ideology.   Except that they both avoid embracing individual freedom and autonomy as I wish they would.   And they promote a sick foreign policy which does not yield the taxpayers a lot of benefit.

In my book, the bottom line for both establishment dems and reps is power.  All the rest is rationalization to justify it.  People flock on the bandwagon to mock the presented enemy.

If you don't agree with democrats then you must be republican and want to shoot children, force religion, etc.  So it goes, the "national conversation" is a big game of beg-the-question, skew the study, warp statistics, and otherwise avoid establishing and checking the basic premise of an argument, suggestion, idea.

Don't want government involved in marriage or abortion, then you must be a Godless demon who doesn't care if babies are killed, etc.  Guilty.  I wouldn't personally perform an abortion if I could, would rather it not be done if I were papa and mama says she doesn't want to stay pregnant, but I am in no way in favor of preventing people from having abortions.   In many cases I encourage it.  Not all people should multiply.

Geez, believing what you hear, you'd think the NRA is somehow on trial, or at least responsible for Newtown, that  Obama is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the democrats stupid position on foreign policy and protracted  police actions is somehow less stupid than the establishment republican position.

Garbage.  Expensive, harmful, pesky garbage.  All we really want is some positive personal reinforcement, a degree of comfort, decent food, and abundant sex.  No.  That "we" part of the sentence is unsubstantiated.   It seems most people want to be victims, or vicarious victims so they can have evil ones to hate.  It is the national passtime.

Too bad.  I'm reluctant to say why I'll probably never move back to the South.  Or why I'd not consider living in most big cities anywhere.  Why go where you are hated before they even know you?    Gets old quick.

I will say, whether Obama's fault or not, the hostility of subgroups in the population of the US toward one another seems to have amplified considerably over the last five or six years.   To certain people, that means big money and power.  Too few in a position of influence have good motive not to feed the animosity.  And people follow their team blindly.

If you are liberal you must agree that if you aren't for the proposed gun laws then you hate children, especially the ones slain in Newtown.   If you are conservative then you must care about gay marriage, abortion, and prayer in schools, and be in love with police and other armed government employees with guns.

Personally, I do think the visible, in power, democrats are mostly neo-bolsheviks, and corrupt.

I think most visible, in power, republicans are timid hall monitors, potential theocrats, and corrupt.

Not cool to say, but I believe the dems may have the edge on volume of corruption.  Hard to be sure.  Both groups have thrown away more money that is not theirs than one can even imagine.

Neither outfit is honestly presenting much.   On the side of republicans is the fact that I've heard a few of them suggest abolishing the irs in favor of something simple and less abusive and oppressive.  Not the old school GOP, though.   And then some of them who make sense on the tax thing go and get all entrenched in worry about abortion and gay this and that.

Seriously, can't people understand that, though you don't like or approve of some behaviors, it behooves you to stop short of using the law to force others to live as you do?  If they are not assaulting your rights or personal sovereignty, try to bite the bullet.  Your own freedom  will ultimately suffer, as we have already seen.

Modern day regulatory environment causes me to hesitate to even think of becoming something like a window cleaning service, and I certainly would not create an enterprise that involves hiring employees.  You need to already have plenty of money, and even with all the fees and licenses,  you are probably breaking some rule or open to bizarre lawsuit.  It is good to be poor in a litigious society.

Hilarious that McCain and that charlatan, Schumer were at the border being useless, and some woman scaled the fence to flee Mexico as they watched.  Probably works for McCain or some other official.  Climbs back and forth daily for minimalistic wage, which is maximalistic by Mejico standards.

OK--that sounded like air America or the like, starting off with a very far fetched "probably", then building on it as if it is true.   Al Franken is big on that, as are many of such ilk.  Maybe good for laughs from the unthinking, but contributes zero in truly supporting or refuting an idea.

All there is to do is the immediate list of personal tasks before me.  Screw the rest and hope I can afford the basics.  Maybe I've dropped too far off the mainstream, and maybe not far enough.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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