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MMD > Archives > December 1999 > 1999.12.10 > 07Prev  Next


Crank Organ Uses Harmonica Reed Plates
By John Kleinbauer

Hi All,  A few days ago I mentioned I was in over my head.  My
new crank organ was done, but a problem arose because I used
harmonica reeds.

Several people e-mailed me with solutions but all of them suggested
changing or modifying the reed plates.  The whole point of my new
design is to keep it simple.  Adding custom plates could always be done
after the builder gets the organ working.  I pinned the barrel with the
song, "Oh Susanna", which does not use a lower A or F.  First I put in
the melody, then I went back and added a sister note for each note one
octave lower.  When the organ played the song it seemed like it had a
reverb unit hooked to it.

It was now time to call Pete!  My friend Pete pulls no punches and
if the organ sounds bad he will say so.  Pete plays the piano.
Pete looked over the new organ after first playing with my first
model.  After he cranked through the song, he looked at me and said,
"Why does it sound so loud?"

That is all it took to let me know I was still sinking.  After Pete
left I played with the organ a little more and I came to this
conclusion: having every note a double becomes overpowering and
monotonous.  When two notes play together they produce a beat note.
When the two notes are an octave apart the effect is more apparent and
ear-rattling.

Over the last few months I have been contacting people who play the
harmonica for help.  Most of them can not read notes or understand my
questions, even when I draw a picture.  Yesterday my problem became
history.  I found a site that had an arrangement for a harmonica in the
key of "C" without any note bending.  I downloaded the MIDI file of
"Old Folks at Home" and put it in 'Noteworthy'.  I was amazed, to say
the least, to see how the song was laid out.  There are cords and
notes,  but no flats or sharps.

I contacted Arthur Banks, the composer of the piece, and he said I could
use it.  Now I know there has to be a harmonica book out there that has
other arrangements that make the harmonica sound better.  I spent last
night pinning my barrel with the tune.  The organ now sounds _funky!_
Check out Art's web site and the MIDI song file:

  http://www.ruralnet.net.au/~banksam/index.html
  http://www.ruralnet.net.au/~banksam/oldfolkh.mid

John Conrad Kleinbauer


(Message sent Fri 10 Dec 1999, 14:02:30 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Crank, Harmonica, Organ, Plates, Reed, Uses

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