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X-treme Harmonica Tunes

Air on a G harp...
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In the right hands, the harmonica is an amazingly expressive instrument. Throaty and raspy one moment, high-pitched and flutelike the next - for something so simple, it can manage an impressive spectrum of sounds. If you've ever taken one apart, you'll know that it's business end is basically just a set of metal tines of different length, which vibrate at different pitches when air is sucked or blown over them. It's an instrument so simple it can take a lifetime to master. The true virtuoso can wring noises out of this little perforated brick that have to be heard to be believed. And I'm not talking Larry Adler here.

Amazing stuff. But, unfortunately, the instrument itself is pretty tiny, and not very telegenic. When was the last time you saw someone play air-harmonica? Given that a great part of harmonica playing consists of cupping it in your hands for much of the time in order to unleash that wah-wah sound at strategic points in the tune, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people just thought it was just a kind of human-beatboxing. Many youngsters might even believe it to be a purely mythical instrument, much like the fabled Eunich Horn of yore.

So - let's make this unassuming yet powerful instrument come alive for the MTV generation. Instead of having all these tines lined up in a row - liberate them. Chop the harp up, blowhole by blowhole. Each note becomes a self-contained, separate one-tine instrument. And while you're at it, add bomb-like fins to them as well. They'll come in handy for the next step.

You know those skydiving cameramen who have their cameras attached to their helmets? Imagine that setup with a directional mike attached. Take a handful of these one-note harmonicas up to 30 thousand feet, drop them strategically, then jump out after them. Of course, each note is colour-coded so you know where to point your directional microphone as you plummet beside these wailing blues-bombs, and you also have the requisite skills to raise and lower your air-resistance and thus flit between the falling notes, using the Doppler effect to bend and twist the notes as your "Terminal Velocity Blues" composition requires.

When the music's over, you pull your ripcord, and waft gently down to the ground. There's no room for improvisation with this tune. The harmonica bombs, however, perforate the landscape with explosive ease. Luckily, you remembered to have a friend draw a huge set of parallel straight lines on the ground. You threw out the harmonibombs at strategic intervals, and the wind conditions were (strangely) nonexistent. Next time a spy satellite passes overhead, it'll record the sheet music version of the main riff of your latest tune.

lostdog, Jan 20 2004

This guy's pretty good http://www.rorymcleod.com/
Probably the best harp-player I've heard. [lostdog, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Dive Sirens http://www.bmgtechw...tovault/photo20.htm
This is what happens when the HB falls in to the wrong hands! [1st2know, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

[link]






       Whatever happened ot the mouth harp?
Letsbuildafort, Jan 20 2004
  

       Primary and secondary 'chutes failed..?
lostdog, Jan 20 2004
  

       [+] If you put a "dove tail" interlocking mechanism between them, the player can assemble a scale specific harp before each show. Similar to the Lee Oskar harmonica cases. And if there's enough play between the "mono-harps" you can actually bend the harmonica - parhaps to add even more expression.

Not completely off topic: During WWII, the Germans mounted sirens on the Stuka Dive bomber. When the plane would descend on enemy troups, the siren would fill with air and make a screaming sound - desinged to strike fear and panic on the enemy ground forces.
1st2know, Jan 20 2004
  

       "Each note becomes a self-contained, separate one-tine instrument."
Reads like those bike horns seals are sometimes trained to play.
phoenix, Jan 21 2004
  

       Here's a slightly more sensible version (not worth posting as a separate idea):   

       Imagine a harmonica with wings. Attached to one of the wings is a long cable, and on the other end of the cable is a small handset with a series of buttons on it. In the blowholes of the harmoniplane are small covers which stop the air getting in. Each cover corresponds to a button on the handset on the other end of the cable - pressing the button raises the cover, letting air rush over (and thus sound) the tine. One hand, holding the cable, whirls the plane round and round your head; the other holds the handset as your fingers dance over the buttons.   

       Spinning the plane faster or slower will change the pitch of the note the 'plane plays - same as "bending" notes on a traditional mouth-based harmonica.   

       Obviously it's not a good idea to jam with this in cramped, smoky blues joints.
lostdog, Jan 22 2004
  

       yrtgyy
tyler, May 15 2006
  
      
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