Author Topic: Western Swing Tuning  (Read 323 times)

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Offline Gary Richardson

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Western Swing Tuning
« on: July 30, 2022, 12:28:04 PM »
Wednesday Morning of the SPAH convention there is a seminar scheduled  for Western Swing Tuning.
Help.  What is Western Swing Tuning?
Gary Richardson

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2022, 12:37:46 PM »
I remember hearing about "Western" before, but not "Western Swing." :P

Offline Keith

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2022, 01:01:32 PM »
All I can tell you is that Western Swing is a type of Country music - I like it, it's lively. :)

Offline smojoe

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2022, 03:28:02 PM »
Western swing is a type of country. Like country swing. With a slight Mexican Norten'yo flavor. A group called: Asleep at the wheel (with Ray Benson) is the most accurate example of the style that I can think of. There are others before them. A smo-joe tuned diatonic (aka double country) works. Of course a chromo will also serve. BUT you would have to be fast. Like a David Naditch.

mr. cellophane

Offline Gary Richardson

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2022, 05:51:49 PM »
Thanks Joe.  I am familiar with Western Swing Music but not the tuning.  Love Asleep at the Wheel.  So Western Swing Tuning is just Country Tuning but for both holes 5 and 9 being tuned sharp.
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Offline smojoe

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2022, 07:52:06 PM »
No it doesn't mean you HAVE to have a special tuning. I'm only saying that a country tuned harp works well in that style. Standard harps work but sometimes it's good to have that 5th note 'sharped' to begin with. Then you can always bend it down to a natural if you wish. And the reason for the 5 raised... and the 9 (which is just optional) is that you can run up and down the harp both directions, both blow AND draw, and never get a dischord. Tongue trills can be added ad nauseum and give an accordion flavor.

smojo

Offline BeauKim

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2022, 07:47:41 PM »
Thanks Joe.  I am familiar with Western Swing Music but not the tuning.  Love Asleep at the Wheel.  So Western Swing Tuning is just Country Tuning but for both holes 5 and 9 being tuned sharp.

Ah, interesting.  Thanks for letting us know what the difference is from standard Richter.  I think a few companies like Suzuki made their Country Tuned harmonicas with the 9 draw tuned a half step sharp, as well.  I don't think I had heard of it with this name, though.  Who gave the seminar?

Offline beads

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2022, 10:08:05 PM »
I don't think the question has been answered yet. Joe merely said a harp with raised draw 5 and 9 was GOOD for Western Swing. He did not say that tuning is called Western Swing tuning. Raised draw 5 has many names. Major 7th tuning (Steve Baker likes that name). Country tuning (Charlie McCoy, Buddy Greene, and Phil Duncan use that name). Huang marketed it as the "Jazz Harp". Here on this board it has been called Smo Joe tuning. Some use the name "Double Country" when both 5 and 9 are raised. Piano player George Winston is known to play a diatonic with both 5 and 9 raised. I don't know if he has a name for that tuning.
 
 I have never heard the name "Western Swing tuning". I suspect Joe is on the right track. It might be plain old Major 7th tuning with yet another name. Maybe somebody who went to SPAH can clear this up?
We grow too soon old und too late smart.

Offline smojoe

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2022, 11:05:28 PM »
Smo-joe tuning 101

It was 1959 when I came back to Pittsburgh from Paris. I wanted to graduate with my old schoolmates from my home town. My friend Glen Swick had a doo-wop group called the 'Eppics'. He wanted me to do the bass voice. When he heard me play diatomaceous harp he wanted that as spice.

I found that I couldn't get all that I wanted with Richter. So I raised the 5 draw up one sharp. A month later I also tuned the 9 up so that I could run up and down the scale without any dischords. BUT I didn't do it on all my harps. I called it "My doo-wop tuning". And although I may not have been the first to try this, I have never heard of it before this. BTW, you can do a HUGE amount of doo-wp and jazz tunes with this tuning. And I have done seminars on the subject demonstrating same.

Sometime in the  80s, a fellow stopped in on one Charlie McCoy and told him that he knew how Charlie was doing some of the things he was doing. He said: "You raised the 5 draw up 1/2 step didn't you?". Charlie said "No, but that's what I'm going to do from now on". See Charley used to use TWO harps on a tune called Londonderry Aire. I only had to use one. When we modulated, he went into 4 harps, whereas I used 2.

So, over time I have referred to my tuning as 'smojo tuning'. And I had the tuning 20-25 years before Hohner ever made them. Note: Back in the old days it was common for players to do re-tunes. Sometimes for only ONE song. Don Less used to call these "trick tunings". I preferred to be more charitable and call them "show tunings".

Leo Diamond and Leo Friedman used to do special tunings for the Harmonica Rascals. So special tunings have been around since at least 1930.

smojo 

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2022, 11:30:05 PM »
     I think I might be able to get used to a special tuning that I only used for one number, but other than that, I'm pretty sure it would totally short out my little ADHT brain for anything BUT that number.

     I finally started to "relate" to standard tuning where I actually know my way around in all keys (although some not as good as others yet ::)) and actually feel more confident than I ever have before, and don't really wanna chance screwing that up. :P

Artie

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2022, 12:42:38 AM »
Back in the old days it was common for players to do re-tunes. Sometimes for only ONE song. Don Less used to call these "trick tunings". I preferred to be more charitable and call them "show tunings".
Al Smith has done a lot of these.
In the John Sebastian Pugliese transcriptions, he refers to several of these, using diatonics.
I mentioned that to his son, the Lovin' Spoonful guy, and he was unaware of that.
I keep trying to get him up to speed on Country Tuning, but as he is famous and I am not, it's a losing battle.
He's still gigging, God Bless America.

Offline Old Age

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2022, 10:54:13 AM »
Now that I'm thinking about it, I might consider an (one) alternate tuning on a suck-harp cuz (in MY head) it's a whole different instrument. ::)

Offline smojoe

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2022, 12:30:36 PM »
A.J. smojo tuning is no different from Richter except for that 5 draw reed. You won't get confused. We're not talking tunings like those coming from genius Brendan Tower of Power or Gnarley the Oklahoma Kid.   

smojo (btw I also place a breath saver on the 5 draw so I can blow it DOWN when necessary. Like on 'Chapel in the moonlight' and other tunes.)

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2022, 09:32:41 PM »
Ya mean tune #5 draw it from F to G flat?

Offline smojoe

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2022, 10:26:37 PM »
Ok, on a C tuned instrument you would file from F to F# (aka Gb). Just keep in mind that you wind up deleting the F, which, btw, works against you in second position when doing LEAD parts. And while you loose the F you DON't loose the F. You can always bend it down..when necessary. And that reed is easy to bend. Partially because you had already made it 'Thinner'.

smojo

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2022, 12:09:57 AM »
I'll hafta try that on one of my cheap "givaway" jobs and see how I like it. Thanx! :)

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2022, 10:10:38 AM »
Weird tunings are my thing.
Country tuning (which SmoJoe created out of necessity) is as normal as blueberry pie.
C6 tuning might be useful for Country Swing, that’s what lap steels use.
Tune your redundant C notes to A.

Offline Gary Richardson

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2022, 12:23:23 PM »
I attended the Western Swing Tuning seminar at SPAH but it is a style of tuning that I do not know how to use.  The tuning is Country  with the fifth draw sharpened a half step and the seven blow sharpened a half step.  This is to allow the player to use second or third position.  This hurt my head (that's a joke son) so I left the seminar two thirds of the way through.  The seminar was taught by Mikael Backman who is from Sweden. The man can play the harmonica very well and has been attending SPAH for years.
Gary Richardson

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2022, 01:39:10 PM »
I attended the Western Swing Tuning seminar at SPAH but it is a style of tuning that I do not know how to use.  The tuning is Country  with the fifth draw sharpened a half step and the seven blow sharpened a half step.  This is to allow the player to use second or third position.  This hurt my head (that's a joke son) so I left the seminar two thirds of the way through.  The seminar was taught by Mikael Backman who is from Sweden. The man can play the harmonica very well and has been attending SPAH for years.
I will try that tuning, thanks!

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2022, 02:28:40 PM »

Offline smojoe

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2022, 04:05:44 PM »
Michael is an excellent player and teacher. Fortunately when he gives a seminar no one chimes in and muddies up his presentations with goofy statements or questions.

s.j.

Offline Gary Richardson

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2022, 06:52:27 PM »
Mikael Backman also performed Friday night with the Blue Note Harmonica Quartet.  The Blue Note Quartet was lead by Mikael Fall (from Sweden) and accompanied by AJ Windmeyer on Chord and Bill Morris on Bass.  Wow!  Two diatonic harmonicas along with the orchestra harmonicas. To quote from the program.  "We will experience newly written arrangements of blues, jazz, western swing and classical pieces in this unconventional harmonica constellation, you don't want to miss this!"
Experiencing performances like this makes driving 755 miles to hear it no chore.
Thanks Gary for the link.
Gary Richardson

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2022, 11:31:53 PM »
Thanks Gary for the link.
I was looking for a definitive description of the tuning—to no avail.

Offline lflisboa

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2022, 09:33:23 AM »
First, I think it'd be a variation of Magic Dick's Swing Band Tuning (as follow), but according to Mikael Backman, most likelyhood it'd be a country tuned harp.
I6 DRAW/bVII 6 BLOW (1 DRAW TONIC) (SWING BAND TUNING?), source: Pat Missin webpage

BLOW  C  E  G  A  C  E  G  A  C  E 
HOLE  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10
DRAW  D  F# A  B  D  F# A  B  D  F#

The country tuned would be the first alternative tuning to try, since it requires just one reed tuning, and you can get the original Richter note by bending.



I found this:
https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1112417/FULLTEXT02

Offline smojoe

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2022, 09:52:36 PM »
 So, in other words, after 63 years, my tuning is still alive..and going strong?

Joey the doo-wop kid.  sha da-da-da- da-  da da

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Re: Western Swing Tuning
« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2022, 10:55:33 PM »
I6 DRAW/bVII 6 BLOW (1 DRAW TONIC) (SWING BAND TUNING?), source: Pat Missin webpage

BLOW  C  E  G  A  C  E  G  A  C  E 
HOLE  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10
DRAW  D  F# A  B  D  F# A  B  D  F#

I found this:
https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1112417/FULLTEXT02
I originally called this Magic Bop Band as per Magic Dick, however, Brendan Power claims it as his own and calls it Power Chromatic.
I like to call it IV6/V6, those are the blow and draw chords--so the example I am copying here would be in the key of G, C6 and D6 chords.