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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Chords for the diatonic
Chords for the diatonic
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24 posts
Nov 22, 2023
10:55 AM
As my study of the harp has progressed, I became interested in just how many and which chords a diatonic could play.

Search engines turned up little, as everything was oriented around those just starting out, and the sites gave different information.

I even attempt to use AI. No dice.

So, I took the sites I could find. I also performed some self-study based on the music theory sites as well as my own compositions, and came up with the following schema:

On a C Richter-tuned harmonica:

C: (123), (456), (789), (1234), (4567), (7890)
Cy3 / (C dyad): (12), (45), (78)
C5: (34), (78), (90)
Emy3 / (Em dyad): (23), (56), (89)
G: -(123), -(234), -(1234)
Gy3 / (G dyad): -(23)
G5: -(12)
G7: -(2345)
G9: -(23456)
Dm: -(456), -(890)
Dmy3 / (Dm dyad): -(45), -(89)
Dm6: -(3456), -(4567), -(7890)
Fy3 / (F dyad): -(56), -(90), -(23)bb
Bo (Bdim): -(345), -(789)
B07 (B1/2dim7): -(3456), -(4567), -(7890)
Bbmy3 / (Bbm dyad): -(34)b

So, in 1st position / straight harp:

Here, "o" = "diminished", "0" = "half-diminished", and "y3" = "dyad / 3rd interval".

The latter is kinda problematic, as the Roman numeral chord structures don't seem to usually support two-note chords. I guess most music-theory geeks compose for the piano, or at least the guitar, in which you can have these giant monster chords. At most, they'll recognize two-note power chords because those are so prevalent in rock. Two-notes, for them, are not a thing.

But, based on my experience thus far, two-note chords / dyads are a real deal for the harp. For instance, a classic blues progression in chords might be:

-(12) -(45) -(34) -(12)
-(12) -(45) (34) -(34) -(12)

To make it more bluesy and more in-tune with the minor blues scale, we could do:

-(12) -(45) -(34)b -(12)
-(12) -(45) (34) -(34)b -(12)

So, bending the 34 draw together. The schema I came up with includes a couple of bent draw chords:


which seem useful when playing the harp.

I've not included inversions in my schema, as noting those doesn't seem to be functionally useful for the harp player.

Let me know what you think. Can anyone else contribute to this with their own chords which I might have missed?

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