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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > so what's up with midi harps?
so what's up with midi harps?
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12 posts
Jun 12, 2022
11:55 AM
TL;DR why can't you acoustically bend, do vibrato, etc. on MIDI harmonicas? do we not have the technology? they would be amazing if there was just a little more expressability

I love MIDI instruments. They're so cool. And they're even cooler when the technology is designed to work *with* the human body to create new levels of expression—like EWIs, the Erae Touch, or Eigengarps—as opposed to the attempts at something like MIDI guitars, which kinda demand the player to work around its technical limitations. It seems to me like MIDI harmonicas are stuck in the middle of those two categories. As Brendan Power has demonstrated, the DM48 is excellent at facilitating a natural yet musically interesting method of making rhythms, with all the bounce and ease of use of an acoustic harp (https://youtu.be/vkTev1l3eIs). This kind of rhythm is pretty much impossible on any other kind of controller. On the other hand, however, almost every other kind of expressive quality of the harmonica—bending, overbending, controlled vibrato, changing your mouth to get dirtier or cleaner tones...all the things that set diatonic, Richter-style harmonicas apart from any other free-reed instrument—is absent from the harp's digital counterparts. Of course, there's the ribbon controller on the DM48X for bends and vibrato, but it's really not the same and, despite all its customizability, actually offers less variety of expression than a regular harp. After all, it's just one ribbon, while we have throat, diaphragm, and tongue vibrato, among others, PLUS varying speeds and intensities of each. My question is: why? Do we not have the technology to detect bend embouchures in MIDI controllers? That seems crazy to me considering how we're able to literally fly in space. Of course space exploration and resonant frequencies in the mouth are not the same thing, but it's crazy how even if our technological capabilities are so advanced, vibrato detection is nowhere to be found in the MIDI world. Does anyone have any thoughts or knowledge on why bendable MIDI controllers are so lacking?
also sorry for very long-winded post ":(

Last Edited by amitu on Jun 13, 2022 11:45 AM
10402 posts
Jun 13, 2022
5:54 AM
Midi harps are out of my price range, but there are other options. There are midi controllers that you can play a harmonica into.


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First Post- May 8, 2009
13 posts
Jun 13, 2022
11:54 AM
yes i love that video! very cool idea and i have tried it to some very pleasing results, but it still isn't perfect for something like vibrato—yes, you can add it after or use a foot controller, but as i said it's just not tas versatile. and unfortunately the tracking isn't so spectacular that you can play super fast passages or chords
im just wondering why harmonica-style midi controllers themselves can't do acoustic -style effects

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