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Harmonica Lessons: 12th Position Basic: Introduction

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Moving on to the next position,
which I'm sure all of you think is gonna
be called the seventh position.
It is not.
This is where things get
a little strange on a harmonica
because this next key,
it's not particularly hard or
anything like that.
But very few people ever
played in this position for many years,
and there are two reasons for that.
One of them has to do with this tampered,
as opposed to just intonation thing.
And at this time I should tell you
what the name of this position is.
It's not the seventh position.
It is the 12th position.
Because just like the pieces of a puzzle,
we're gradually filling in the octave.
We have positions in C, [SOUND] D, [SOUND]
E, [SOUND] G, [SOUND] A, [SOUND] and B.
[SOUND] And there's this note
sitting here in the middle,
don't all shout out the answer at once,
its an F.
[SOUND] The reason why F
wasn't played in very often,
there's two reasons for it.
The scale of F is called the Lydian mode.
It's a major scale with
a sharp fourth in it.
And this not used in very
much Western music, I have to say.
So, the fact that you
can't get the fourth.
Prevented people from playing in it.
As well as the fact,
that you can't get an F on the bottom
of the harmonica, you can go down to
and there's no A.
And then a G, and no F.
It's kind of a sketchy position,
if you don't no how to bend very well.
And it's still kinda sketchy because
you have that B natural in there,
which is the fourth note of the scale.
And to play an F major scale,
you need a B flat which is
why I also call this position
the first flat position.
Because in music theory,
F is the first key,
where they describe the black key
as a flat, instead of a sharp.
And I'll show you why on the keyboard,
because this is a little
bit of music theory that is
really important to understand.
So, I'll just show you the F
major scale here on the keyboard.
F, [SOUND] G, [SOUND] A, [SOUND] B flat,
This B flat, if you called it A sharp,
you'd have a scale that had F,
[SOUND] A sharp, [SOUND] and C.
And in music,
it's not a very good idea to have an A and
an A sharp in the same scale, and
no note that's called the B anything.
Because if you're writing it out,
you constantly have to change it, and
they're gonna share the same space or
line on the musical staff,
which is how you write music.
You write it on a staff,
where these lines and
spaces are the stations
where the various notes are.
And so, that's why I call
this the first flat position.
It's the first key F major,
where to play an F major scale.
You need to have a B flat.
[SOUND] And if you go around in
fifths all the way from C to F,
you will discover that F is the 12th
note in that circle of fifths.
And so the name 12th position is kind
of intimidating to harmonica players.
My God, the 12th position.
That's why I think first flat position.
It teaches you something about music, and
it also is a less intimidating number.
So, that's the first reason why
people didn't play in that key.
Because the notes aren't
there on the bottom.
It doesn't play the fourth
very easily at all.
Especially, in the top,
where all the notes are.
And then,
the other reason is that remember,
we were talking about
the temperament on harmonicas,
the just intonation harmonicas as
opposed to the equal tempered.
Well, the traditional just
intonation harmonica.
The F,
is so flat that who would wanna play in
the key of F,
if the F wasn't even in tune.
So, when the Hohner company came out
with the Golden Melody harmonica,
the F was in tune.
This is why,
I didn't realize it at the time,
I didn't know it.
But that's why I said,
gee I like these Golden Melody.
Only a number of years later,
when I met some people who knew more
about harmonicas, they said, you like this
because it's tuned to the tempered scale.
Which is why it's called the Golden Melody
harmonica, and of course,
the light bulb went on over my head.
So, that's why I started playing
a lot in the key of F is because I was
playing harmonicas that it worked on.
And of course, I also know how to play
all the notes in all the pitches.