The Tremolo
Two Tremolos in Chromatic Mode

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Ong Kelven, a member of the big-harmonica email list, has given us the following primer on using a C and a C# together, to play in all keys with just two tremolo harmonicas. This works because if you have a C and a C#, you have two instruments which together contain every single note in every scale. It is equally possible to do this using such pairs as A/A#, D/D#, F/F#, et cetera. Using two tremolos in this manner is called “chromatic mode”, or “chromatic”.

To play in chromatic, place the C# above the C harmonica. Use the right hand to grip the pair of harmonica on the right side. On the left side, you use the left hand to grip them and at the same time let the bottom harmonica( the C key) rest on the palm and supported by the 4th and 5th finger. Then use the thumb, the index finger and the middle finger to slide the C# harmonica towards and backwards. You slide the C# towards your mouth when you are playing a sharp/flat note, you slide it back and aim for the C harmonica when you return to the normal note. Practise makes perfect!

From Kelven as well as other sources, we have heard that this technique is very common in China. Any variety of scale-tuned tremolo harmonica is suitable for chromatic use, as long as you have an appropriate pair.

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