Levers and "alternate tunings"

Posted In: How To Play

  • Participant
    Rachael Rosenbaum on #184861


    I recently read an article where someone referenced “flipping levers to pentatonic.” How does one do that?? Also, is there any way to use levers to get a maybe middle-eastern sound out of the harp? (My harp is fully-levered).

    Thanks for any input!

    Janis Cortese on #184863

    Best thing for a middle-eastern sound is to play in Phrygian with a major third. If you’re tuned to Eb with all levers down, that means playing G-to-G with the B levers up.

    ETA: Another name for this scale is “freygish,” and you’ll find a ton and a half of klezmer music played using it.

    Janis Cortese on #184864

    BTW, for pentatonic, assuming you’re turned to Eb with levers down, you should want the following levers up: C, D, F, G. The strings you’ll play are C, D/E, F, G/A, B. I theeeenk this should give you a pentatonic scale, where the D/E strings and the G/A strings are tuned the same, but I’m at work and thinking about other things, so someone may want to sanity-check me on this.

    Angela Biggs on #184872

    Tuned in Eb, I flip up D and G, thus getting rid of the seventh and third of the scale. This leaves me with Bb, C, D#/Eb, F, G#/Ab: whole step, 1 1/2 step, whole, whole, aka a pentatonic scale. When improvising, I usually feel the F as the “tonal center” of this tuning, though since there’s no leading tone, there isn’t really a tonal center…

    Janis, yours produces the black-key piano version of the pentatonic scale, C# D# F# G# A#. Thanks for an alternate configuration — I look forward to finding out which note I head back to improvising in it. 🙂

    Rachael Rosenbaum on #184873


    Thanks so much, Janis and Angela. I admit I am guilty of being tuned in plain old C major. But I suppose I can figure out how to manage that from what you guys have told me. Thanks again, it’s certainly helpful info!

    Janis Cortese on #184876

    In C Major, play E-to-E with the G lever up for freygish.

    Janis Cortese on #184877

    Angela, to judge from the music I’ve heard, probably you’ll head for the Eb. Every time I play anything like that, I always somehow end up with Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” as an earworm for the next few days. 🙂

    Biagio on #184882

    To play fully in pentatonic without skipping strings, just change all the half steps to whole steps. This is easier if you are not tuned to a flat key but rather a sharp one. Id est: if tuned open to C just flip the Bs and Es, in G flip the Fs too and so on. This is really fun for yuck-free improvising, you can’t hit a wrong note. Kids and invalids love it too.

    Biagio on #184883

    Incidentally if you’re playing solo tuned to C , flip up ALL your levers, then flip down those for a flat key. For example, B A and E down, C D F G up: voila, you’re in Eb – granted a half step up from A 440Hz but big deal if you’re not in ensemble. Which is why I tune to C or G and play alone….Said the lazy man:-)

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.