Eddie Clarke B/C style Harmonica

Eddie Clarke B/C style Harmonica

Hello

My main instrument in ITM is harmonica, and i play G and D and Low D diatonics, as well as G/F# chromatic harmonica.

Recently i’ve found an Eddie Clarke album "Sailing Into Walpole’s Marsh" and his sound is amazing. I’m sure he plays in "B/C style" on harmonica -standard keys, just a semitone higher - f.e. Music In The Glen is in G# instead of G. (Because he had a standard C harmonica with slide allways pushed in).

I’ve tried to play a Lilting Banshee on my C/B harmonica (B harmonica with slide reversed) and it fits it very nice. Some very beautiful ornamentations and long sequence of notes played just on the draw.

But AFAIK all modern players who play in Eddie Clarke style use G/F# or D/C# harmonica - Joel Bernstein, Mark Graham and Mick Kinsella.

So what do you think - is it worth to try to play some tunes on C/B harmonica or G/F# is better for Irish Music?

Posted by .

Re: Eddie Clarke B/C style Harmonica

"is it worth to try to play some tunes on C/B harmonica or G/F# is better for Irish Music?"

Definitiely worth trying, IMO. I don’t really play tunes on chromatics as a regular thing, but when I do, I find this the most natural approach, probably because I mostly play B/C button box.

Whether G/F# is better depends on the results you get - try both, and see what works best for you. I imagine D/C# harmonica might also be worth playing, you can experiment with that by just playing the tunes in C on your C/B harp. If you like the phrasing that comes out, a D/C# would put you in standard session pitch.

Try lots of stuff, and do what works - that’s my advice, anyway.

Re: Eddie Clarke B/C style Harmonica

"Modern players" using Clarke’s style do indeed play the C/B (with slide reversed) for some tunes. Joel Bernstein, for example, plays C/B on tracks #7, #10 and #14 of the Pigtown Fling CD. Joel uses the C/B a lot for tunes in Ddor, Gmix and Cmajor, of course, but he will also sometimes use the C/B for certain tunes in Ador and Gmajor, as well. Just as some tunes in Dmajor sit better on a G/F#, some tunes in Gmajor play better on a C/B. Joel’s advice is to try them both for individual tunes, and see what works best. The C/B’s main disadvantage that I can see is that, being pitched higher than the G/F#, it can sound squeaky or tinny to me on some tunes. There are also problems using a 12-hole C/B for some tunes in Ddor (like Jug of Punch) since you don’t have that low A. Joel gets around that by fudging a different phrase there. I re-tuned a CBH 2016, so I have that lower octave —although for most Ddor tunes I prefer to simply play the concertina !.

If you are an Eddie Clarke fan, you will definitely want to get the CD box set "Unheard", lots of archived material released just last year on the Comhaltas label. "Crossroads" with the late fiddler Joe Ryan is also great, but as far as I know not ever released on CD.

Re: Eddie Clarke B/C style Harmonica

Jon Kiparsky, thanks for advice, i think i do need to try lots of stuff, but it always useful to get a competent opinion

alec b
Thank you very much, this is very helpful, Joel Bernstein CD is my favorite for last few months! I didn’t know about him using C/B on this CD.

Do you know what keys he used on other tracks?

Posted by .

Re: Eddie Clarke B/C style Harmonica

Orm, here are the harmonicas JB uses on the Pigtown Fling CD:
Track 1: D/C#
Track 2: G/F#
Track 5: G/F#
Track 6: G diatonic
Track 7: C/B
Track 8: G/F#
Track 9: G/F#
Track 10: C/B
Track 14: C/B
Track 15: Koch slide diatonic
Track 17: G/F#