Upon discharge from the Marine Corps in September of 1969, I was searching for something to tame the memory of my recent experiences. A couple years later I found the diatonic harmonica. Playing for a dozen or so years culminated with an album, titled “Friends”. My family grew beyond the time and money it would take to continue a serious active interest in music, so I gave it up. Since being a musician was no longer a part of my life I eventually became involved in another endeavor, a cathartic work that manifested in a book titled “Vietnam in Wonderland”.
But, music found me once again. My oldest son and eventually two of my daughters started playing and composing various works on their guitars. After twenty-seven years of inactivity, I came back to the diatonic harmonica. Trying to rekindle the spark I once had for the instrument was proving to be impossible. The diatonic harmonica was just too limited for my new expectations, so I began to experiment with something I briefly tried in 1984, when I used the full tone concept on a song I wrote titled “Vietnam”. Back then I recognized a harmonious pattern by skipping over the half tone, but never fully investigated the intricacies of these relationships. About four years ago I began to re-explore. Codifying the new patterns for playing full diatonic scales on the Richter harmonica became a new method. Playing more than one diatonic harmonica simultaneously turned out to be much easier than I first imagined. over the last three years I play mostly two and occasionally three harmonicas simultaneously. The indisputable evidence of this new melodic expansion for the Richter is posted here, in a two and a half year audio, video history. It reveals that the world’s most versatile diatonic harmonica emerges through the method of full tone Coupling.
I began playing the diatonic harmonica at twenty-four. I quit playing at about thirty-seven. I had achieved a professional level of proficiency by my mid thirties. Toward the end of that period I recorded an album with a friend. The album consisted of folk/rock/blues and a little country.
Life goes on… Shortly after our album was finished, in 1985, I quit playing. My wife, Carleen and I just had the fourth of what would eventually be our six children. Music ambitions that consumed so much time became a burden on the growing needs of my family. A few years after I retired, as an electrician, my oldest son, an excellent guitar player, asked me why I had quit. Motivated by the thought of playing a little music with him, I gathered up my old diatonic harmonicas. At last, I again had the time to play seriously!
The first thing that slammed home while attempting a come-back was the all too familiar Richter diatonic design limitations. Creativity could only go so far toward over-coming the instrument’s truncated scales. Discouraged, I started experimenting with something I first tried almost thirty years ago… “coupling” two or three instruments simultaneously. Finally, I was able to get past the diatonic harmonica’s biggest glitch, too many missing notes. Complete diatonic scales in all three octaves became available by coupling. Whole step tuning became the new formula for creating the 20 hole Richter diatonic harmonica, a new instrument. Also achieved in this process, were new chord options. A collateral effect with using these special diatonic combinations was some very welcome chromatic notes, adding even more potency. The only thing left to do was establish this new 20 hole Richter diatonic harmonica at the professional level.
I’m proud to announce that a new “diatonic” instrument has emerged – one that will soon be recognized for its unique versatility!