Helpful ReplyHot!Friday's Tip of the Week #138: WTF Craig...Harmonicas?

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listen
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/18 19:37:44 (permalink)
Thanks for increasing my knowledge base...

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Anderton
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/18 19:41:25 (permalink)
Well, we all hang out in the forum to increase our personal knowledge bases . Happy to do my part!

The full-length, 12-song "video album" Neo-Psychedelic Music for the 21st Century is now posted on my YouTube channel - yes, it was all done with SONAR.
 
Note: The opinions expressed in this post were written by Craig Anderton in his personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cakewalk Inc. or Gibson Brands Inc.
Zargg
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/18 20:53:56 (permalink)
You share more than the average SONARian Craig 
 
Have you gotten home yet, or are you still waiting for your meal / flight?

Ken Nilsen
Win 10 Pro X64, SONAR Platinum X64 (latest) ∞, AMD AM3+ fx-8320, 16Gb RAM, Asus Sabertooth 990fx R2, GeForce GT 610, 2 x 120gb and 2 x 240GB SSD, RME Ucx (+ ARC), Tascam FW 1884, M-Audio Keystation 61es, AKAI MPK Pro 25, Mackie MR5 MKII, AKG K241, Beyerdynamic DT 770 (80 Ohm), Drawmer MXPRO 60, UA LA 610 MKII, Softube Console1,  Alesis DM6 USB, Fender Stratocaster, Epiphone Goth, Yamaha RBX 375, Manuel Rodriguez Mod.B, POD HD 500, Røde NT1a, Heil PR40 and an ALCTRON Reflection filter.
 
Anderton
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/18 23:28:44 (permalink)
Zargg
Have you gotten home yet, or are you still waiting for your meal / flight?


Thanks for asking! I'm currently in Day 3 of trying to get from Fort Lauderdale to Nashville. I probably should have just rented a car...United Airlines put me up in a hotel last night, where I had a great conversation about Soca and Zouk with three fine-looking black lady music lovers who wanted to go clubbing . And one of them has Kassav on her phone, so I got to hear some of my favorite music. And...United felt sorry for me, so I have a first class ticket. (Remember - no matter how nasty other people act, always be nice to the person behind the ticket counter
 
So I'm not complaining! It's an adventure.
 
My 3:35 PM flight for today got delayed, but in theory I'm supposed to be out of Houston by 7 PM. Fingers crossed. I wrote a new song last night and am anxious to get home and record it. I used the Chord Library to sketch out the progression and sang into the laptop mic. I also truly appreciated the value of the virtual onscreen controller and low WASAPI latency. Fortunately I had the good sense to get a pair of IK Micro-Monitors before I left, so I had good sound 
 
Life is always interesting. Actually I've had a downright fabulous week. Sometimes when you just go with the flow, good things happen.

The full-length, 12-song "video album" Neo-Psychedelic Music for the 21st Century is now posted on my YouTube channel - yes, it was all done with SONAR.
 
Note: The opinions expressed in this post were written by Craig Anderton in his personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cakewalk Inc. or Gibson Brands Inc.
Zargg
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/18 23:43:28 (permalink)
As long as you're able to enjoy it, do so 

Ken Nilsen
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dannyjmusic
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/20 14:51:03 (permalink)
Is it worth upgrading from Cakewalk version TH3 to the full version?
Anderton
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 04:03:54 (permalink)
dannyjmusic
Is it worth upgrading from Cakewalk version TH3 to the full version?



I don't have the full version, but maybe others can comment.

The full-length, 12-song "video album" Neo-Psychedelic Music for the 21st Century is now posted on my YouTube channel - yes, it was all done with SONAR.
 
Note: The opinions expressed in this post were written by Craig Anderton in his personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cakewalk Inc. or Gibson Brands Inc.
Anderton
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 04:11:41 (permalink)
Week 138: WTF Craig...Harmonicas?
 
Back in the 60s, harmonicas were a big part of pop music. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, other English invasion bands, Led Zeppelin—as well as folkies like Bob Dylan—had harmonicas in their music.
 
But I liked the “blues harp” players. My band was often on the same bill as a lot of the blues guys like Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Muddy Waters, and others, so I got to hear blues harp at its best. Here’s a good example of “pure” blues harmonica, Sonny Boy Williamson doing “Keep It to Yourself”:
 

 
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band amped up the blues harp into a rock and roll instrument with its own amazing voice. Here’s a good example, Paul Butterfield doing “Born in Chicago” (with Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop on guitars).
 

 
I thought it was a great, low-down dirty, sensuous sound that made the pop music harmonica sound like water compared to Jack Daniels. I wanted to incorporate that sound into my music, but try as I might, I couldn’t. How did they do it?
 
Then I found the three keys to playing blues harp, and may I suggest if you don’t play blues harp, it’s a lot of fun. Besides it’s inexpensive, portable, and can add entirely different textures to your music—and as we’ll see, once you get SONAR involved you can really take off.
 
But first—if you don’t know about cross-harp playing, that knowledge is mandatory.
 
“CROSS-HARP” EXPLAINED
 
Harmonicas come in different keys, but if you want to sound like Junior Wells instead of Bob Dylan, choose the harmonica key that’s a fourth above the song key. For example if you’re playing guitar in the key of E, you want an A harmonica. This lets you pitch bend the reeds down when sucking to give that mighty blues tone, and they’ll end up in the right places for the key of E. Here’s a chart, and also, a PDF from Lee Oskar that goes into details about both major and minor harmonica tunings.
 
Next, remember that harmonicas require that you both blow and suck. Sucking is what pulls the notes down and gives that swampy, bluesy vibe. The more you play, the more flexible the reeds become so it’s easier to bend the notes (some players soak their harmonicas in beer because they claim it makes the reeds more flexible, but I think it’s just an excuse to drink the beer afterward).
 
Next you have to learn to breathe. There are a billion how to play harmonica videos on the web, but this one explains it all without a single word. Once you get past the shock of the first few seconds, pay attention…watch and learn. She nails it.
 
Beck Wenger “How to Play Harmonica (The Blues)”

 
ENTER THE SONAR
 
Okay…now you’re playing in the right key, bending notes, and starting to think that maybe this isn’t such a crazy idea for a tip after all. Time to boot up SONAR.
 
Start with a dynamic mic. I have a Shure SM58 with a foam wind screen, and hold the mic right up to the harmonica so my hands hold both the harmonica and the mic. The idea isn’t just to close-mic, but to smother the mic with the harmonica—my harmonica actually pushes into the foam wind screen.
 
And now, the secret ingredient: SONAR’s CA-X “Classic” amp, combined with some ProChannel EQ (Artist users can substitute appropriate settings from the Sonitus EQ). The Classic isn’t just the amp of choice because it has the right amount of overdrive and funk, but because of the spring reverb. A little spring helps give that vintage blues harp sound.
 
I’ve posted two audio examples on www.craiganderton.com (click on the Demos tab) with short, harmonica-specific excerpts from two songs I’ve done with blues harp. Following are their amp and EQ settings, so if you like the sound, just use these settings and you should be good to go. In both cases, the ProChannel is post-FX Rack.
 

 
“I’ll Take You Higher” is from my upcoming project “Simplicity.” This has some drive to give more of the Paul Butterfield harmonica sound. The ProChannel drops the mids a bit except for a slight boost so the sound cuts more.
 

 
“Our Independence Day” is also from “Simplicity” and showcases blues harmonica in more of a rock context; the main difference is piling on the amount of drive. This gives a kinda nasty midrange, so the ProChannel cuts the mids and highs. The Sonitus is the last effect in the FX Rack. It tames a little residual harshness in the context of a mix.
 
I know this is a bit of a departure from the usual tips, but the one on mastering workflow went over well so what the heck…let’s try something different. Besides, whenever I play anything with a harmonica for people, the reaction is always something along the lines of “Hey, it’s a harmonica! Cool!” So now you have the power to blow and suck…use it only for good.
 

The full-length, 12-song "video album" Neo-Psychedelic Music for the 21st Century is now posted on my YouTube channel - yes, it was all done with SONAR.
 
Note: The opinions expressed in this post were written by Craig Anderton in his personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cakewalk Inc. or Gibson Brands Inc.
Sanderxpander
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 11:05:13 (permalink)
I absolutely love that tip! Thanks, Craig!
rwheeler
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 11:15:24 (permalink)
",,,A harmonica. This lets you pitch bend the reeds down when sucking to give that mighty blues tone, and they’ll end up in the right places for the key of E. Here’s a chart."
 
Chart currently missing at this end, but not a major problem. Good info on a often forgotten instrument, and great tip.

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Zargg
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 11:33:49 (permalink)
Thanks for another cool tip Craig.
I have had a couple of blues harmonicas for years, so now might be the time to start learning / using them 
All the best.

Ken Nilsen
Win 10 Pro X64, SONAR Platinum X64 (latest) ∞, AMD AM3+ fx-8320, 16Gb RAM, Asus Sabertooth 990fx R2, GeForce GT 610, 2 x 120gb and 2 x 240GB SSD, RME Ucx (+ ARC), Tascam FW 1884, M-Audio Keystation 61es, AKAI MPK Pro 25, Mackie MR5 MKII, AKG K241, Beyerdynamic DT 770 (80 Ohm), Drawmer MXPRO 60, UA LA 610 MKII, Softube Console1,  Alesis DM6 USB, Fender Stratocaster, Epiphone Goth, Yamaha RBX 375, Manuel Rodriguez Mod.B, POD HD 500, Røde NT1a, Heil PR40 and an ALCTRON Reflection filter.
 
JohnEgan
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 12:29:13 (permalink)
Cool, Ill have to dig out my old harps, if their not too rusty. LOL.
 
Any reason not to put the Amp preset in the ProChannel FX Chain, rather than the track FX Bin as I think its showing? 
 
 

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Anderton
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 14:18:25 (permalink)
rwheeler
",,,A harmonica. This lets you pitch bend the reeds down when sucking to give that mighty blues tone, and they’ll end up in the right places for the key of E. Here’s a chart."



The chart is back, and I added another link that you'll probably find helpful.

The full-length, 12-song "video album" Neo-Psychedelic Music for the 21st Century is now posted on my YouTube channel - yes, it was all done with SONAR.
 
Note: The opinions expressed in this post were written by Craig Anderton in his personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cakewalk Inc. or Gibson Brands Inc.
Anderton
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 14:20:40 (permalink)
JohnEgan
Any reason not to put the Amp preset in the ProChannel FX Chain, rather than the track FX Bin as I think its showing? 
 



Yes, there's an extremely crucial, important reason...I like to put amps in the FX Rack . Seriously, it doesn't matter but do make sure that the amp goes first in the ProChannel because the current setups have them post-amp.

The full-length, 12-song "video album" Neo-Psychedelic Music for the 21st Century is now posted on my YouTube channel - yes, it was all done with SONAR.
 
Note: The opinions expressed in this post were written by Craig Anderton in his personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cakewalk Inc. or Gibson Brands Inc.
Sixfinger
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 17:34:09 (permalink)
My theory on the theory is that the One chord in the blues is a Dominant 7 chord. So for example a blues in the key of G is based on that G7 chord, which is the 5th chord in the key of C. So cross to C. We don't need a chart. :)
 

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Anderton
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 17:40:58 (permalink)
Sixfinger
My theory on the theory is that the One chord in the blues is a Dominant 7 chord. So for example a blues in the key of G is based on that G7 chord, which is the 5th chord in the key of C. So cross to C. We don't need a chart. :)

 
For what I'm talking about, not really...as long as you remember to choose the blues harp that's a fourth above the song key. But check out that Lee Oskar PDF, it opened my eyes to there being more to the story than just that.
 
This is also giving me ideas about how to use the MIDI Transpose Plug-in to do the equivalent of "blues harp" playing by constraining to keyboard scales. 

The full-length, 12-song "video album" Neo-Psychedelic Music for the 21st Century is now posted on my YouTube channel - yes, it was all done with SONAR.
 
Note: The opinions expressed in this post were written by Craig Anderton in his personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cakewalk Inc. or Gibson Brands Inc.
tlw
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 17:57:10 (permalink)
One thing I find with blues harp is that guitar amps are often much too bright and have too much gain. Rolling the treble and some mid off can go a long way to getting a sound that doesn't scream. Interesting that your eq curves boost the top end a bit, I usually find things go the other way though maybe that's because I use a real amp. A tightly cupped mic can really overdrive an amp and lose all dynamics as a result.
 
Tremolo harmonicas are even worse if the mic is close to them, they're much better not used with a cupped mic.
 
My personal preference is to do what the "second" Sonny Boy Williamson is doing in the video - use a vocal mic and move on and off the mic but essentially playing as I would acoustically. That way I can get more tonal variety and the cupped wah effects are the same as they are acoustically, for cupped mic work they kind of work the other way round which gets confusing.
 
I just wish I could play like Williamson - or work an audience like he could. Even on old black and white TV footage he's really gripping to watch.

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Sixfinger
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 17:58:36 (permalink)
Ok, yes that's a fabulous chart!

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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/25 21:00:56 (permalink)
tlw
One thing I find with blues harp is that guitar amps are often much too bright and have too much gain. Rolling the treble and some mid off can go a long way to getting a sound that doesn't scream. Interesting that your eq curves boost the top end a bit, I usually find things go the other way though maybe that's because I use a real amp. A tightly cupped mic can really overdrive an amp and lose all dynamics as a result.



Thank you for contributing your expertise, it's appreciated. FWIW in the top screen shot, there is a little bit of high end but that's because the amp Drive is low, and the Bright switch is off. With low Drive, you don't have the gain and brightness issues you mention. As a result, the harmonica needed a little top boost to a) compensate for the upper mids being reduced, and b) cut through the track a bit better.
 
However, the second screen shot is exactly as you describe - a high gain amp setting. That's why the ProChannel does a radical drop in the highs and reduces the "harshness" around 2 - 3 kHz. So your observations correlate with mine, even though I'm using a sim.

The full-length, 12-song "video album" Neo-Psychedelic Music for the 21st Century is now posted on my YouTube channel - yes, it was all done with SONAR.
 
Note: The opinions expressed in this post were written by Craig Anderton in his personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cakewalk Inc. or Gibson Brands Inc.
tlw
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Re: SONAR X August: 31 Days of Tips 2017/03/26 02:05:41 (permalink)
Yep, keeping an eye on the amp gain is a big part of it. I've tried quite a few amp sims with harmonica and about the best I've found so far is the Amplitube Princeton reverb with the incoming signal well below where would be optimal for guitar. It's not a bad sound at all.

Low gain helps to keep the feedback under control as well :-)

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