I just got back from the SPAH convention (Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica) that was held here in Irving, Texas this past month. They let me present and play my diatonic harmonics with Celtic-Americana-Folk tunes. I wasn't alone. There were others at the convention who also promote the playing of harmonicas with Celtic-Folk music, such as Brendan Power, James Conway, Mike Caldwell, Cara Cooke, and others.

The out-of-the-box, Richter-scale, diatonic harmonicas, such as those made by Hohner, Suzuiki, and Seydel have improved tremendously over the years, and they are extremely versatile in playing all sorts of music genres. So. To say they are "Celtic" is along the same lines as a violin being a fiddle. It's mostly in how one "attacks" the notes.

It was great to see the harmonica become more popular in being part of the Celtic music experience, and I was wondering if there are others in the world who feel the same? -- KelticDead

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Thanks for checking in Bill. I'm really having a great time in playing these little instruments, especially after becoming convinced that Seydel Steel diatonics are reeeeaaaaallllly easy to play. Wish I could come out to Essex to play with you guys, but if you're ever in Dallas, let me know.

Shaun - That KelticDead Guy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPxLf2drTCE&feature=share&li...


Bill Kitchen said:

Hi Patrick.

I've been running a session in my little seaside town of Brightlingsea, Essex UK these past 17 years - and glad to say that the harp features very regularly, playing a host of celtic tunes and adding wonderous embelishments to many songs. Long live the Harmonica or 'Mouthie' as many call it in these parts.

Cheers Bill Kitchen

Hi Boyen.

Glad I checked this forum. Been awhile. I couldn't agree more. We really need to have a dedicated focus on just what these little reed harps can do with Celtic tunes. I've got a little hobby website that you might be interested in http://folkartnews.webs.com .  I've just put in a "subscription" page to where folk can be part of my "KelticDead Newsletter" list, and my hope is that as more folk sign up, they'll see the site as a opportunity to start sharing "Celtic" tunes that can be played on the diatonic harmonicas.

Boyen said:

Hey Patrick!

I, too, love to play Irish music on the diatonic harmonica (valved richter, so not standard richter..). I've been playing Irish music on the harmonica for about 2 years now. I've been joining sessions recently as well. 

The only thing I don't like much about it is that there isn't really a community of diatonic harmonica players. All the harmonica forums mostly concern the blues so yeah.. I wish there were some places where I could find like-minded people but to no avail. 

On a dutch harmonica forum I've been trying to teach my fellow harmonica players some Irish tunes (with tabs and music) I collected them here: https://www.box.com/s/825d159e955c584c6baa 

Unfortunatly though, there is not that much interest for it. I guess most people pick up a harmonica to play campfire tunes and blues, not neccesarily Irish folk =/ 

Cheers,

Boyen

Hi Superbelle. I play Irish harmonica and I wasn't aware that Hohner manufactured harmonica in Ireland. Thanks for the tip.
 
Superbelle said:

Oh! Very interesting post Roisin, i didn't know Hohner had manufactured harmonicas in Loughrea

Roisin Ni Galloglaigh said:

I don't play harmonica myself but I love to hear it in a session. I found this very interesting - "A harmonica with the name ‘Emerald Isle’ appears on a Hohner poster, although I’ve never seen a physical example of that model. For several years, Hohner had a factory in Ireland that they used for the manufacture of some of their cheaper lines. It was based at Loughrea and was closed in the early 1980s." http://www.cathaljohnson.com/the-history-of-the-harmonica-in-ireland/

 

Hi, I have been waiting to see the harmonica coming back in the celtic scene for years. Lately, it seems like it is knowing a revival. I'll drink to this.

You should join our Irish Harmonica group Normand! 

I still have faith that, when enough people would join the Irish harmonica group here, we could really get a good thing going here in terms of exchange of music tips etc. 

I've heard it said (more often than I would like to hear it) that if one wants to be "serious" about playing traditional, Celtic music, one should have a full, chromatic instrument. Well. It's true that the diatonic, Richter-scaled, ten-hole, harmonica can never be said to have a full three octaves, but truth be told, most penny whistle players can't have that claim either. 

Folk music (Celtic or otherwise) changes from one generation to the next, and certainly there have been, and continue to be, as many ways to play "traditional" Celtic folk music as there are musicians to play them. When playing the diatonic harmonica with "classical" "traditional" Celtic tunes (if there is such a thing), obviously one has to be creative to jump or bend around those missing notes in the lower octave, and to fake some "incidentals" when they occur. Playing triplets and trills are a challenge, but I'm getting pretty handy at it over the years.

The point is, I LOVE the sound of a diatonic harmonica. There! I admit it. I like other instruments, but there's just something about the sound of a diatonic harmonica that I really like (me and dogs I guess), and it's FUN to explore ways to play Celtic tunes (which I also love) with the remarkable (and wonderful) "munda eoline." 

I started a "song-catching" group here in Texas, made up of some very "serious" musician types, who are helping me find ways to play traditional Celtic music using the diatonic, Richter-scaled, harmonicas. Why? ... Because it's FUN, and that's what it's all about. I'd love to hear from other folk who share the same regard for using diatonic harmonicas with Celtic music. -- KelticDead_Music.  "Ideas that are shared, become GREAT ideas!"

Hey I've been playing harp for about a year..a late comer to the music scene in general, but the sound of sonny terry made me obsessed with harp. My Father is a trad flute player so the two connected for me recently..I read the brendan power book and now I'm full steam on trad mouth organ.finding people online for direction for harp in general is tough..but finding those for trad harp is even tougher!

I too have found it very difficult to find people with the same interest - playing irish music on the mouth organ/harmonica/blues harp. I really feel like this is potentially the best place to get people together as it is a site that has value on its own. Join our group here I'd say! 

noble savage said:

Hey I've been playing harp for about a year..a late comer to the music scene in general, but the sound of sonny terry made me obsessed with harp. My Father is a trad flute player so the two connected for me recently..I read the brendan power book and now I'm full steam on trad mouth organ.finding people online for direction for harp in general is tough..but finding those for trad harp is even tougher!

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