Lee Oskar Invites Musicians to Explore the Versatility of Altered Tuning at Winter NAMM

Mike Lawson • News • January 15, 2020

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Harmonica virtuoso and recording artist Lee Oskar strives to make the power of the harmonica even more accessible and useful for the musical masses. As part of that mission, Lee Oskar Harmonicas will demo its full line of innovative harmonicas at NAMM 2020 at booth #6310, showing musicians how they can quickly and easily use harmonicas to craft melodies for every style of music from reggae and hip-hop to jazz and tango.

“The harmonica is designed for the musically hopeless, which is exactly how I started out,” Oskar said. “However, until very recently the instrument was designed to play only the major diatonic scale, relegating the harmonica’s use to specific genres such as folk and blues, and leading musicians to reuse the same scale and key over and over.”

Lee Oskar’s innovative lines of “altered tuning” harmonicas allow musicians and singer-songwriters to quickly and easily add a harmonica to their compositions or use them to experiment with different scales, no matter the genre, and without any advanced techniques or long learning process.

“It’s the only instrument that makes music just by breathing into it,” Oskar explained. “If, for instance, a guitar player knows a bit about music theory and wants a bandmate to overlay a melody, using a harmonica in the matching key makes it effortless, even if the bandmate doesn’t know theory or chord progressions at all. It also allows experimentation to get outside of a familiar key or scale, which can be a problem for musicians who are comfortable composing with specific chord progressions and find it hard to introduce different themes. And of course, guitarists and many other instrumentalists can enhance their music by easily incorporating harmonica into their musical expression using a harmonica holder (neck rack).”

“We want everyone from beginners to professional touring acts to experience how harmonica can benefit their songwriting and performances,” Oskar said. “For me, the most important aspect of modern music is the melody. For music to really be memorable and stand on its own without lyrics, the melody must be strong. That can mean introducing unusual chords or notes that make it stand out, and with harmonica it’s simple to test out lots of different notes quickly without having to learn all sorts of theory and positions.”

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