Perhaps it’s no coincidence that a 10-hole diatonic harmonica – a free reed instrument – would be so confining yet freeing at the same time. On the surface, the diatonic harp is ripe with flaws:
- Its 10 holes only provide access to 19 notes over three octaves
- Typical harmonica designs leak air resulting in a lack of control of bends and overblows
- Its reputation as a toy makes it a challenge for many to regard it as a serious instrument
While those limitations may be in the harp, I can’t let them creep into my psyche. Instead, I tell myself that the limitations are in the mind, not the instrument.
After a show, another harmonica player once asked me, “How do you achieve so much freedom with your instrument?” Intriguing question, I thought. Especially since that is something that I consistently work toward and it has shaped my musical identity. The fact that he asked the question suggested that he saw a glimpse of my effort.
Freedom on that tiny free-reed instrument? Hmm… I thought. In retrospect, that conversation reinforced the spirit I hope to achieve with my music and it framed the context of my philosophy, or what I like to call my “Freedlosophy.” I literally found myself in the collective ideas represented by the words “Free,” “Reed” and “FREeDom,” and they best express my belief that if you free your mind, your harp (and heart) will follow.