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Eric Chafer

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"His articulation and control of pitch are astonishing, and
the way the octaves are closely spaced allows him to do runs that cover a
huge range in the blink of an eye."

Brendan Power

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 :

blow E Ab C E Ab C E Ab C E
hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
draw G B Eb G B Eb G B Eb G

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 :

"Le Tangobsédant" - Harmonica Solo (mp3 format - 821 ko)
"La Dernière Java" - Harmonica Solo (mp3 format - 370 ko)
"Kilucru" - Harmonica solo and Vocal accompaniment (mp3 format - 1835 ko)

You can contact Eric and Francis by e-mail through the following address : 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.