Aside from a few alternate tunings, improvements in materials for construction and some playing techniques, the Richter diatonic harmonica is essentially the same today as it was back in 1826. Enter the whole-tone, “Coupling Method” for playing the Richter: Nothing since its inception has affected the output and performance of this two-ounce instrument like the coupling concept for playing the diatonic.
Listed here on my website are examples of this new performance. I invented a method for facilitating this concept with ordinary diatonic harmonicas and I’ve been told by many that the results are sensational.
On this site is a two and a half year audio and video history, featuring clear examples of the Coupling Method. Although there have been random whole-tone/step experiments in years past, none were codified into an actual method for playing. The evolution of this concept eventually gave birth to an invention, a new twenty-hole diatonic instrument, or what I refer to as the coupled diatonic harmonica. My personal experience dates back to 1984 after discovering that a special tuning relationship existed between the scales of separate diatonic harmonicas tuned a full step apart on the chromatic scale. Since then I have invented a new diatonic instrument by making permanent unions with these whole tunings. These unions consist of two components (two diatonic harmonicas tuned a whole step apart) which results in a twenty-hole diatonic instrument. While some random experiments in the past are extant, such forays never resulted in a documented formula for bringing this anomaly into an actual music methodology (as I did and filed in the U.S Patent Office nearly three years ago).
A couple weeks ago, a “Slide Diatonic” was introduced, essentially using the same whole-tone concept I use. Problems: A single mouthpiece to capture two diatonics will use valves in order to switch scales. A valve places the musician in another position in relation to the desired reed. The same diatonic response will not be there…an ultimate disappointment! Another drawback is you’ll be limited to the harmonicas being incorporated into such mouthpiece, unless an interchangeable mouthpiece can be developed. Third drawback will be the price. These new hybrids will cost you dearly. As of now, a thousand dollars. Lastly, you’ll still have to acclimate yourself, as a diatonic musician, to a SLIDE. We’ll just have to see how far this goes. Meanwhile you can convert your ordinary diatonic into an extraordinary acoustic instrument and have the same intimacy the original diatonic yields, extraordinary vocal quality, for virtually no extra expense. Two nuts and bolts, blue-tac, tape, rubber bands…
Bill Price (whole-step diatonic Coupling Method inventor)