Header Graphic
Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Brendon Power Tone
Brendon Power Tone
Login  |  Register
Page: 1

533 posts
Feb 25, 2022
6:07 AM
Hello all. It's been maybe 10 years, but I'm getting back into harmonica. This round is probably going to be more about chromatic and Irish harp. Really inspired by Brendon Power's tone, spending a good bit of time listening and emulating as best I can.

I'm curious if there has been discussion around this or if he has provided any insights into his basic sound.

Some might say you can't dissect tone, however this is not really true for any other wind powered instrument.

Here is what I notice about tone:

-Foundational tone on the harmonica is strongly impacted by whether or not (or the degree of) the players back pressure. As an example: PT Gazell's tone sounds like even an open note has the tongue high in the back of the mouth, which enables pitch-affecting vibrato (as opposed to the standard blue beating vibrato).

-The tone is not just the tone. It's about a note's purpose in it's phrase. Part of tone is how you affect the note. For example, you'll notice Brendon Power rarely just parks it on a note. Outside of fast runs, each note has something that happens to it - vibrato, crescendo, ornament. Summed up I'd say that for the listener, much of this IS how we perceive the musicians overall sound and tone.

-On the harmonica, many truisms about tone don't ring true. As an example, the old tongue-block/lip-purse debate, settled by the late Chris Makalek. Turns out you can get the same tone by either method. Empirically,this means that something considered fact for a very, very long time is factually incorrect.

-Some aspects of tone seem to be controlled by the instrument. Opened-up backs, side vents, and (possibly?) comb design. Backs and sides impacting tone is well understood, comb design less so. I am wondering how one can impact tone through the comb design. Off the cuff I consider smaller chambers make the harmonica more responsive but with thinner tone, opposite for larger chambers.

-Another aspect of tone is overtones. I'm a player who dials in the harp for easy overblowing. But I notice that a wider gapped harp has a different tone that one that is tightly gapped. This may be due to tuning, since I don't retune after customizing and I do understand that gapping for a more responsive harmonica means you don't blow as hard, so you'll be a little sharp AND the degree of sharpness will vary by gap on a reed-per-reed basis. Example: If you tightly gap 4, 5, and 6 and not so much on the others, you have 3 reeds that activate with less force, while the surrounding needs may receive more.

Back to my original inquiry, I am curious to know more about Brendan's tone, and anything he may have said about it - it's just so distinctive and powerful to me and I'd really like to know more.
1748 posts
Feb 25, 2022
10:11 AM
One thing to be aware of:

Both Brendan and PT use half-valved harmonicas. This has a big effect on the tone of the instrument, evening out the tonal differences between draw and blow notes. With PT, his half-valved diatonics sound a bit like chromatics tonally, at least to my ear.
Harmonica lessons with one of the world's foremost experts
Check out my blog and other goodies at winslowyerxa.com
Harmonica For Dummies, Second Edition with tons of new stuff

Last Edited by WinslowYerxa on Feb 26, 2022 8:36 AM
534 posts
Feb 25, 2022
11:33 AM
Yep, I am aware, and have a growing collection of half-valved harmonicas.
397 posts
Mar 01, 2022
7:20 AM
I did a quick check on the forum search here and the only reference I came across was an older one where he states he like the tone of the Hohner harps as opposed to the Easttops but that was a few years ago. He has a bunch of stuff on youtube and what not. Interesting he mentions the tone of the harps I don't know where he might talk about his personal approach to playing though.
I know with Pt Gazell his is all in the front of his mouth and the way he works the reeds. I signed up for some of his lessons and he mentions it Also he mentions proper breathing.
Both are excellent players that's for sure.

Last Edited by Spderyak on Mar 01, 2022 7:22 AM

Post a Message

(8192 Characters Left)

Modern Blues Harmonica supports

§The Jazz Foundation of America


§The Innocence Project




ADAM GUSSOW is an official endorser for HOHNER HARMONICAS