Dorion Mode

February 6, 2020

Ode to Joy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robinson Dorion @ 9:52 p.m.

During my childhood athletics were my main interest and activity. My mother had a piano in the house that did not really get any use and when playing an instrument was introduced as an option by the school when I was nine, I wasn't interested at all. I had baseball, basketball and football to play in the neighborhood after school and wasn't going to be sitting inside for anything really. Fast forward to my senior year of high school and my best friend Mark and I were driving around town1 talking about what it'd be like when we became old men. We resolved we'd be neighbors and sit in rocking chairs during long afternoons on his front porch or mine drinking rum, smoking cigars, playing chess and harmonicas and telling stories. He didn't play any instruments, but had musical inclinations on account of his father, Willy C, being a musician2 and part of a band, Satin and Steel,3 and furthermore was the music teacher at the county vocational school. We decided then to make a detour to Willy C's classroom to see if we could score some harmonicas. He called the music store down the road and sent us over and we put two Blue Bender C harmonicas on his tab and off we went. Below, one of the Blues Benders in question.

blues-bender

Though I carried the harp with me during my travels since, I didn't look into learning how to play it until a couple of months ago. Learning new things both helps you grow and keeps you young and music looked like a good area of opportunity. I found the aptly named Learn the Harmonica youtube channel and "Ode an die Freude", from Beethoven's 9th Symphony, caught my eye since I've been most interested in classical music these past years, primarily Bach and Mozart. According to my friend Chad, who composes and studies music, music started going downhill since Beethoven because he started the break away from counterpoint,4 but given the lesson was in the C harmonica and I like it, I went with it.

The first couple days I listened to the lesson and then wrote down the tablature notation,5 presented below, to practice without the video. The positive numbers represent blow notes and the negative represents draw notes and the numbers represent which hole on the harmonica to apply the air.

A: 5 5 -5 6 6 -5 5 -4 4 4 -4 5 5 -4 -4
B: 5 5 -5 6 6 -5 5 -4 4 4 -4 5 -4 4 4
C: -4 -4 5 4 -4 5 -5 5 4 -4 5 -5 5 -4 4 -4 3 5--
D: 5 -5 6 6 -5 5 -4 4 4 -4 5 -4 4 4
E: -4 -4 5 4 -4 5 -5 5 4 -4 5 -5 5 -4 4 -4 3 5--
F: 5 -5 6 6 -5 5 -4 4 4 -4 5 -4 4 4

I've been focusing mainly on this song, playing during previous down times, such as while walking across the city. I still have some work to do isolating the individual notes. Nevertheless, I'm making progress and enjoying the process and here's a recording I made this week.

Enjoy !

  1. Driving around for the sake of going for a drive is a popular past time in those parts. []
  2. His father was a good athlete and musician. Mark's older brother Billy turned out to be the musician and Mark the athlete. []
  3. They'd been playing together for over 30 years and I grew up going to their concerts prior to knowing Mark. []
  4. The Ode to Joy bit is in fact a break from custom in that vocals weren't commonly being included in symphonies prior. The vocals are derived from Friedrich von Schiller's 1785 poem. []
  5. If any readers have suggestions for representing music notation as text, please write in. []

5 Comments »

  1. Aha thank you for your beautiful performance.

    Re footnote 5, my first CL project was to try to make an ascii notation for music. http://ztkfg.com/2018/11/apollo-music-project/ If I ever find time I want to add a feature where you can run apollo's notation through a function and get back a traditional score in an svg format.

    It may be easier for you to read the notation you wrote if you align the tablature by putting a space before positive numbers so that they have the same 2char with of the negative numbers.

    Also, what does 5-- mean at the end of C and E?

    Comment by whaack — February 6, 2020 @ 10:06 p.m.

  2. AFAIK, http://lilypond.org/ is the state of the art, the TeX of music typesetting.

    My own attempt at an ascii-to-soundwaves system at age 17 might be amusing: under "Toys" at http://welshcomputing.com/code/ .

    Robinson, why not learn the holes by note names (letters) rather than the instrument-specific numbers? It's not like there's that many!

    And you see lines A, B, D and F here are supposed to be almost identical? I seem to hear more high notes leaking in starting with B, hard to tell though with all the leaks otherwise. (I know getting single notes is harder than chords on harmonica.)

    Comment by Jacob Welsh — February 7, 2020 @ 4:17 a.m.

  3. [...] play Ode to Joy and take refuge in amore fati. After then Boston Red Sox star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra --Nomar [...]

    Pingback by Dealing with Death « Dorion Mode — February 7, 2020 @ 8:03 p.m.

  4. @whaack

    Re footnote 5, my first CL project was to try to make an ascii notation for music. http://ztkfg.com/2018/11/apollo-music-project/ If I ever find time I want to add a feature where you can run apollo's notation through a function and get back a traditional score in an svg format.

    Cool!

    It may be easier for you to read the notation you wrote if you align the tablature by putting a space before positive numbers so that they have the same 2char with of the negative numbers.

    I tried adding spaces to align, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference when I previewed the draft. For my own use I write on a piece of paper that I carry in the case for more convenient access.

    Also, what does 5-- mean at the end of C and E?

    That 5 blow is actually supposed to be the first note in D and F. With that in mind, B, D and F are the same pattern. It's placed at the end of C and E with 5-- to denote there should be minimal pause transitioning from C to D and E to F. He explains the move in the video, but you'll see in my version I've not yet mastered it.

    @Jacob Welsh

    Thanks for the links.

    Robinson, why not learn the holes by note names (letters) rather than the instrument-specific numbers? It's not like there's that many!

    Good point. There's not that many, but I had enough to deal with to start to get the coordination and the pattern down. It had not occurred to me, but now I don't have a reason not to, especially given I was refresher I received at Junto last month. harmonicatunes.com pays.

    And you see lines A, B, D and F here are supposed to be almost identical? I seem to hear more high notes leaking in starting with B, hard to tell though with all the leaks otherwise. (I know getting single notes is harder than chords on harmonica.)

    The difference between A and the others is A ends with E (5 blow), D (4 draw), D (4 draw) while the others end with D (4 draw), C (4 blow), C (4 blow). Thanks for pointing out the leaks, I'll work on the plug.

    Comment by Robinson Dorion — February 8, 2020 @ 7:20 p.m.

  5. I tried adding spaces to align, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference

    HTML collapses adjoining whitespace characters to a single space. (That linefeeds appear to do something is a wordpress thing: it converts them to br and p tags, for single and double linefeeds respectively.) One way to turn this off is with a pre tag ("preformatted text"), which also sets a fixed-width font.

    Comment by Jacob Welsh — February 8, 2020 @ 11:19 p.m.

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