Q: What are the other "positions"?

Harmonica positions (at least diatonic ones; nobody seems to have established a common practice for chromatic) are numbered according to the cycle of fifths.

First position is, of course, C on a C harp, as that is the blow chord and the major scale to which the harp is tuned.

Second position is based on the draw chord, G, which is the next obvious position. G is the fifth degree of the C major scale.

Third position is based on the D minor draw chord found a little further up the harp. Again, D is the fifth degree when you count up from G.

Pretty much everyone agrees on these numberings, but after that, until recently, everybody made up their own designations depending on which positions they considered useful.

In the last ten years, players have taken to extending the practice of going up a fifth for the next position number. We can go all the way around the chromatic scale this way, naming twelve positions:

1st C 12th 2nd F G

11th 3rd Bb D

10th 4th Eb . A

8th 5th Ab E

8th 6th Db B 7th Gb (F#)

This is for a C harp. For a G harp. you'd have to rotate the pitch band counterclockwise one position until it was under "1st."

Most of the time, you'll be likely to choose the positions immediately to the right or left of first as being the most comfortable -- 02 & 04 Jul 94 WY

Or try acronyms ;-) e.g.. Funky Cats Get Down And Enjoy Bad Food During Another Evening's Booking !?

Positionally, where 1 = straight harp, 2 = cross, 3= 3rd,etc:

  F  C  G  D  A  E  B F# Db Ab Eb Bb
                      Gb C# G# D# A#
 12  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11
  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12
  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12  1
  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12  1  2
  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12  1  2  3
  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12  1  2  3  4
  6  7  8  9 10 11 12  1  2  3  4  5
  7  8  9 10 11 12  1  2  3  4  5  6
  8  9 10 11 12  1  2  3  4  5  6  7
  9 10 11 12  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8
 10 11 12  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
 11 12  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10
-- 4 Nov 94 HA

(FMI: "Positions" 05 Apr 95 (Melody Maker) WY) (FMI: "Circle of Fifths" 23 Dec 1993 GJ) (FMI: "Only 7 real positions..." 13 Jan 95 BL)

 

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