Get Out Of Jail Free

Norton & BonnieDo not pass GO

Greasy Rob the car mechanic, Otis the mailman, Stomping Stu from the village allotments and the Doc were busy playing a game of Friday night Monopoly on the kitchen table. A large brown pot of Taylor’s Yorkshire Tea steamed away next to Otis who was also banker for the weekend biscuit assortment. Otis had hotels on the home straight, Rob had all four stations and the Doc had a strong collection of reds and yellows. Meanwhile Stu was casually thumbing his Water Works and keeping one eye on Bow Street.

Do not collect £200

‘Whatever happened to your quest to find out whether the u-block technique is a true alternative to puckering and regular tongue-blocking?’, quizzed Stomping Stu, both hands on the Community Chest. ‘Never quite got to the bottom of that one,’ answer the Doc, squaring up his wad of £20 bills. But you’ll remember the late, great, Snortin’ Norton Buffalo – a renowned master in the art of that particular embouchure? Well, my dear friend Brian of Santa Barbara CA has sent a letter asking me to name the keys of the seven, yes seven, harps Mr Buffalo is playing in the 1977 video of him on stage with the lovely Bonnie Raitt.’

Your annuity matures, collect £150

After some close analysis the answer is that Norton rotates 4 harps in the major keys of F, Eb, Db and C respectively. He uses 2nd position cross-harp throughout. The band is therefore descending through the keys of C, Bb, Ab to G. During the second rotation Norton loses track of his harps. Failing to switch from Db to C, he stays with his Db and manages to carve out a finish in any case.

Now some commentators have called this a fail. Others have accused him of trying to steel the limelight from Bonnie. As far as the Doc sees it, Buffalo must have planned it all with Bonnie’s full endorsement. And while he tripped up, he was clearly working without a safety net. That alone took some guts. To spontaneously nail an ending with a Db harp (a semitone higher than planned) was nothing short of miraculous. That’s one hell of a get out of jail card.

Advance to Mayfair

For harp aficionados, here’s a shorthand guide to Norton’s moves:

Harp 1 – F major
~4D  ~4D  ~4D  ~4D    ~4D..gliss..2D
2D    1D..2B..2D   3D’…    4D  ~4D  ~4D    4D..gliss..2D

Harp 2 – Eb major
5D  4D  5B  4D    ~3D  4D  5B  6B
4D..5D..4D    4B   ~3D  2D   2D..2D”..1D

Harp 3 – Db major
2D   3D..4B   4B  4B  3D  4B  4D
~4D  ~4D  ~4D  ~4D..gliss..2D

Harp 4 – C major
2D  3D’  4B  3D’    4D~5D trill
6B   4D..5D..4D   ~3D’   ~3D’..3D”..2D    ~3D’..3D”..2D    4B

Harp 5 – F major
2D  3D’  4B  3D’  ~4D
5D  4D  4B  3D’  4B  3D’  2D  2D

Harp 6 – Eb major
5D  4D  5B  4D
~3D’  4D  5B  6B  5B..6B..5B  4B  ~3D’  4D  ~3D’  2D

Harp 7 – Db
2D..3D  4D  5B  5D  4D  5B  4D   ~3D’   ~3D”  2D
Bonnie & Norton II3B  3D”  3B   2D’   3B  3D”  3D’  4D  5B  5D  ~4D

Doctor’s fees, pay £50

‘And that dear boy,’ is how it’s done. The Doc tendered his own Get out of jail free card, rolled a double six, snapped up Vine Street and, with a crafty snake eyes, guided his Top Hat onward to The Strand for a complete set of reds. ‘Bollocks’, exclaimed Stu, just as Washboard Sam came on the gramophone. ‘Someone been diggin’ my potatoes, trampin’ on my vine.’

One thought on “Get Out Of Jail Free

  • November 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    ‘Community Chest’ – collect 100 pounds from each subscriber for a great post and website.
    Great piece, thanks.

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