Eric Chafer is a harmonica player
from the Pyreneans in the South of France. Planet Harmonica
collaborators had heard about him once or twice, but we never
really knew what he sounded like, or that he was anything else
than the countless competent harp players around.
He is something else, so much so that we decided
to open this page up until Eric gets his own web-page. In early
October, Eric and guitarist/singer partner attended the "Harmonicales",
a great harmonica festival in Condat, near Limoges (France).
All the harp players in attendence realised that something special
was happening. We at Planet Harmonica decided that the world
needed to know more about Eric Chafer, hence this page.
Before we manage to run a full interview of Eric, here
are little tidbits of info and bio that we managed to gather just by
talking with him. Eric picked up the diatonic harp as an adolecent
playing various musics. By the time he became an adult, his musical
interests steered towards jazz, and he became increasingly
frustrated with the diatonic : he knew that that was the sound he
wanted, but he couldn't play the phrases he kept on hearing in his
head. Finally, he gave up completely and picked the acoustic bass as
his main instrument.
A few years later, after becoming a very gifted
bassist, Eric turned his mind again to the harmonica. He's that kind
of guy !!! He thought that perhaps with the right tuning he could
solve the chromaticity issue. I don't think he'd heard of
overblowing at the time, and maybe it's a good thing he didn't. Eric
thought that he could design and use the following tuning :
This tuning is sometimes known in harmonica circles as
the "Augmented Spanish Tuning". It starts on a Low E like the ones
that can be found on hole 1 blow of Low E diatonics. For more
specific info on this tuning, you can check out New Zealander harp
player G's page on the subject at
First of all, Eric retuned a number of reeds from
various reedplates and tried this on a Lee Oskar, but for some
reason the notes sounded shrill, so he started working on his own
harmonica body made of aluminium.
Eric had finally found the instrument he was looking
for. It sounded like a diatonic harp and had loads of juicy bends,
but it also had all the notes. Of course, it required great
precision and dedication to hit all the notes accurately and
consistently, but Eric worked hard, playing up to 5 hours a day
while walking alongside the local river. Eric is still very shy
about his harmonica playing, which is amazing to those of us who
have heard him...
Anyway, in order for people to hear what Eric sounds
like, him and his guitar buddy Francis Férrié (who constitute the
band "Les Chats Variés") have allowed Planet Harmonica to rip
a few tracks from their live album "Kilucru" and put them online.
Keep in mind that their musical style is "Chanson Française", and
that the harmonica is not the main part of their show : Eric plays
bass on most of the CD. Still, here are a few tidbits to whet your
appetites, and their is more available on the CD :
You can contact Eric and Francis by e-mail through the
following address : firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep in mind that neither of them speak English very well, so keep
it simple, and also that neither of them are web gurus.
We'll keep updating this page with info if we get more
info. Latest update : Dec 11th 2001.