JEPPSQUARE / Simon Jepps
JEPPSQUARE
The Micro Blog Of Simon E. Jepps

www.jeppsquare.me


The Jepps'harp

JEPPSHARP / Simon JeppsHere is my custom configured Seydel Session Steel, in G.

The JEPPS'HARP is a diatonic Blues Harmonica featuring a modified tuning setup, which as a result, not only grants the player more fundamental chords, more useful root keys and more diverse melodic phrasing possibilities, but all whilst preserving the classical play and legacy of the authentic Blues Harp.

Yet perhaps what is most fascinating about the Jepps'harp's tuning setup is how it seemingly revolutionizes a regular Harp into an orchestral wonder without actually altering the sacred traditional configuration of the classical instrument.

And this is by intentional design.

You see, the problem with "changing" the Blues Harmonica is that when you do so, by altering the tuning or installing more components, not only do you change the fundamental musical genetics of its voice but you "sacreligiously" destroy the authentic minimalist spirit of its soul.

Whence the pattern of blow/draw chords and notes are changed to provide more chromatic possibilities, what actually happens, is an instrument famous for the miracle of limitless love from a limited vessel becomes a pampered and thus "scarred" monstrosity of its former sacred self.

The very spirit of "a limitless soul from a limited tool" becomes effectively abandoned and forgotten.

You inadvertently make a statement that all those good black folk of the oppresive West whom revealed the joyous and wondrous spirit of Love, Truth & Reason amidst their hardships, they only created that music ~ that miraculous music, of fantastical expression from a pallete of only two chords ~ they only created that music in vain.

Aye, of course music is a progressive science too and indeed there are many frustrations about the standard configuration of a Blues Harmonica. Why else would I be writing this very article about my own invention?

What though I am trying to convey is that the Blues Harp cannot and must not ever change unless and only unless... it implicitely does so without destroying its own "genetic" heritage.

So... OK, what exactly are the main problems with the traditional Blues Harp?
  • Limited chords: 2~4 depending on your ability.
  • Limited chromatics: 60%~75% - rarely 99% chromatic depending on your ability.
  • Limited keys: a handful ~ rarely more depending on your ability.
Let me be clear, I am not the first to suggest a new tuning configuration for the Blues Harmonica ~ it has been done many, many times and there are even as I speak numerous different configurations available on the commercial market.

Yet the problem arises that when you change just one note on the Blues Harmonica you create a domino effect that alters everything else about the way the instrument works. In effect, you only end up creating a completely different instrument altogether that does not in any way resemble or sound like the classical Rosetta Stone of the Blues.

The instrument's dictated simplicity and its very teasing you to improve it, without changing it, presents itself as a paradoxical puzzle box with no clear solution. This paradox has remained unsolved since the very day the common Blues/Richter tuned Harmonica we all know and love today was born, in 1826 by Joseph Richter.

A Puzzle Box

Herewith it is now long established, the classical Blues Harmonica is a puzzle box - and actually in more ways than one.

Aside from the fact that altering a single note merely returns you to square one where you find you have to start your "ingenius redesign" all over again... it is itself a wonderous maze of neverending musical possibilities... yet ONLY providing you are willing to exercise your mind unto the complex intricacies of cross positioning its keys.

You see, you "can" play anything on the Blues Harmonica, but it is not just notes you will need to bend ~ you will need also to bend your MIND.

However, even if you do master the advanced techniques beyond bending, such as overdraws, overblows and even upbends, it is impossible to ever make a bent or manipulated note sound naturally with sweet free resonance. Nor is it ever possible to create extra chords from these manipulated notes, since they can only for the majority of the time, be played individually.

Thus the "puzzle box" will forever remain undefeated.

Well, mostly... For this is where the Jepps'harp literally comes into play.

Solving The Puzzle

The Jepps'harp is the key to the puzzle box.

Truly, it must be said, I am so pleased with my custom tuning configuration, even after so many years of searching for what, in reality, is merely quite a simple alteration, that in turn my tuning itself begs to be proclaimed a revelation of the Blues Harmonica's miraculous labyrinthine vocal caverns.

For behold here, how amidst the eternal puzzle that changing merely one note completely alters the instrument's voice, there must likewise be an opposite and equal paradox ~ a single note, which when altered, actually works just like a key, to a puzzle.

And there is. The Jepps'harp declares this note Hole 7 ~ but not the draw, nor the blow ~ but in fact a reversal of them both.

All notes on the Jepps'harp remain 99% exactly as a traditional authentic Blues Harmonica, yet the reason altering Hole 7 does not violate this principle is because of the method through which the hole is altered.

Hole 7 is altered in the following way:
  • The blow/draw pattern is reversed.
    • This causes the root Key note to sound on the draw instead.
  • The 7th note of the root Key scale is flattened.
    • This creates a C7 chord {blow} on a C Harmonica.
Unusual indeed it would be to have the root Key note sound on the draw instead, whence all other root Key notes only naturally sound on the blow, in line with the root Key of the Harmonica.

Yet this, paired with a flattening of the 7th note, unlocks the ancient puzzle box.

JEPPSHARP / Simon Jepps


Aye, of course the instrument is now "a little different", most significantly the 1st position Major 7th note is now only attained through bending ~ but amazingly what you will find, is that the change to Hole 7 actually adorns the traditional Blues Harmonica in a fantastical way that actually even glorifies its own traditional tuning, voice & character.

Hole 7 alterations create the following adornments:
  • A 1st position Blues 7th chord, aka C7 on a C Harp.
    • ... in fact granting identical melodic phrasing as traditionally only possible with the 2nd position Blues 7th chord, aka Cross Harp.
  • A 2nd position Minor 3rd in the 2nd octave, aka Bb on a C Harp.
    • ... in fact granting identical melodic phrasing as traditionally only possible in 3rd position, & complimenting the 3rd hole draw bend.
  • A 1st position howling root key note bend, aka C on a C Harp.
    • ... in fact granting identical melodic phrasing as traditionally only possible with the 2nd, 4th and 6th hole draw bends.
  • A 3rd position Minor 7th chord, aka DMin7 on a C Harp.
    • ... in fact granting relative minor identical melodic phrasing as traditionally only possible with the 2nd position Blues 7th chord.
  • A 12th position Blues scale & full bendable Major chord, aka FMaj on a C Harp.
    • ... in fact granting an identical 3-chord circular Blues riff in 1st position as traditionally only possible in 2nd position, aka Cross Harp.
Note: The C# Overdraw which is traditionally present in Hole 7, is now achieved by Overblowing the Hole 7 instead.

Furthermore of course, since Hole 7 is now flattened, this generates a new natural framework for complete cross Minor scales, arpeggio'd or broken Minor chords and thus greater jazzification with more orientally exotic phrasing.

And by no means does it even end there... how about a Minor Reggae style riff in 3rd position, utilizing at least THREE chords? Try it for yourself...

Jazz'harpin'...

As explained, the purpose of the Jepps'harp special tuning is to improve the capabilities of the standard Richter Diatonic Harmonica, yet without altering the fundamental classical mechanics of the Blues Harp instrument, thus preserving the traditional voice and character of its legacy.

Granted, when changing the pattern of blow/draw notes in the instrument, it is inevitable a noticably unorthodox difference about its playing will occur.

Yet the Jepps'harp is itself a little box of magic, whereby the only differences found are those that greatly benefit and even improve the instrument severalfold.

Aye, whilst it is true that whence moving from Hole 7 to Hole 8 an interruption to the Blow/Draw pattern continuum is discovered, whereby to move to the next note in the root scale TWO succesive draws are required... nevertheless, the benefits to chords and melodies FAR outweigh the unorthodoxy of notation and in fact, this "double draw" arrangement actually provides for BEAUTIFULLY EASY Running Triplets in ALL natural positions!

Finally, you may or may not know, but I am a passionate Shepherd's Overtone Flautist, which is perhaps the most magically harmonic and transcendental flute in the world. The interesting thing about THAT is, how it has always been my compositional desire to play similarly meditative harmonic cadences on the Blues Harmonica.

Now... with the Jepps'harp... I can.

Grab One Today...!

If you would be interested in grabbing a Jepps'harp for yourself, all you need to do is:
  1. Follow this link to the Seydel Harp Configurator.
  2. Select the Seydel Session Steel Harmonica.
  3. Select your desired Comb and Coverplates.
  4. Select International & Automatic notation.
  5. Select the standard Richter tuning template.
  6. Input the Jepps'harp Hole 7 tuning alterations.
Of course, you can choose to configure any of the Blues Harmonicas listed on the Harp Configurator page as a Jepps'harp, for example the Seydel Lightning or 1847 Classic, however for those of you looking for the "real deal", the Session Steel is the one to grab.

Likewise, if you are looking to tune your Jepps'harp in the key of G, as is the traditional invention described here, then you will need to adjust Hole 7 to become a Blow F{5} and a Draw G{5}. Similarly for all other keys, you basically make the Hole 7 a Blow Flattened 7th and a Draw Perfect 8th.

Finally please note, I do not make any money from the sales of Jepps'harps through the Seydel Harp Configurator, it is purely a means to enable you to acquire one.

Whilst you will find other musicians do make money from their own tuning designs, more often than not these are purely outlandish curiosities splashed out by famous performers, since only famous performers are likely to attract popular interest, and so rarely if ever does the hard tradition-preserving work of a regular citizen become commercial.

So nevertheless, all I would mostly appreciate is a link back to my website jeppsquare.me whencever you decide the Jepps'harp is worth talking about!

Thank you for reading.

Open Vault / Alt Pages ⧎

Games Vault

Chess Variants

Many of these PDFs are from an archive created over the years whence originally hosted on previous personal blogs, as such they may show cosmetic detailing of a particular website theme, which is different to that of jeppsquare.me.

Scacchronos ~ PDF
8x8 variant featuring dice as time-keepers & empowerers of special movement.
The Jeppsquare favourite. ♞
.............................................
Jepps Random Chess ~ PDF
8x8 variant of GM Fischer's game, employing dice as divinators, thus granting player tactical choice, increasing opening setups & simplifying Castling.
Jeppscha'nga ~ PDF
8x8 variant of Chaturanga employing Classical western pieces and also Conkers.
Conqueror ~ PDF
10x10 variant featuring Wizards & Conkers.
Conqueror 64 ~ PDF
8x8 transposition of Conqueror.
Genie Of The Lamp ~ PDF
8x8 variant featuring counter pieces.
Chec Toe ~ PDF
4x4 variant featuring dice, infinite movement & wizardry.
Jepster Chess ~ PDF
10x10 variant featuring an evolved Jester piece.
Siceirawan ~ PDF
8x8 variant featuring a modified Seirawan ruleset.
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Ckess ~ PDF ↷
The JEPPSQUARE featured game, whilst not officially a Chess Variant, is played with a Chess-like philosophy and strategical mindset. A two player Checkers variant, featuring a touch of Chess and Indian Chaturanga.

Other Games

SKEIGHT / Simon JeppsSkeight ~ PDF
Quite possibly the best dice game ever conceived! Played like boules/bowls, Skeight is a two-player tactical dice game utilizing eight D20s (twenty sided dice) of different colours, as rolling ballistics. A Jeppsquare favourite.

Wxyzaerds ~ PDF
A majestic, multi intuitive diceword strategy game, for two or more players. The objective of the game is to create highest scoring words through the rolling of letter dice, whilst juggling your strategical providence with the Cobra Paw die. Yet the true magic of this game resides in the creativity of the players, who can create their own Wizard Words and Wizard's Dictionary, opening a whole new universe of magic, chance, chaos and ultimately the wonder of spells.

Krikkit ~ PDF
Download Score Sheet
A strategic dice game for two or more players, based on The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy novels. It is played similar to Yahtzee, but also features a challenging quiz, risky space faring obstacles, extra abilities to outsmart your opponent, and the opportunity to trade in cosmic real estate!

Hippo ~ PDF
A humbling variation of Conkers, played by rolling them across the ground and attempting to maintain a continuum of points accumulation, before all your Conkers are eliminated. This is a simple yet very warming game for all the family and can be played with as many people as you like. I invented this game once upon a time, whence meditating under a Horse Chestnut tree.

Alt Pages

JEPPSHARP / Simon JeppsThe Jepps'harp
A diatonic Blues Harmonica featuring a modified tuning setup, which as a result, grants the player more fundamental chords, more useful root keys and more diverse melodic phrasing possibilities.


CKESS / Simon JeppsThe Game Of Ckess
A two player strategy board game, played with and like Checkers, only featuring much more indepth tactical challenges. A modest blending of Checkers, Chess and Indian Chaturanga.


JEPPSAX / Simon JeppsThe Jeppsax
A wearable hybrid musical instrument with saxophonic traits, made by marrying a custom styled Hohner Melodica with a custom configured Seydel Big Six harmonica.


LWTF / Simon Jepps
Living With The French
The short novel, or "diary story", of myself a foreign exchange student,
whilst living with a French family during my childhood in the 1990's.

JEPPSQUARE / Simon Jepps

Blitzwatch
Via Lichess live.