Norton Buffalo Navigates Four Key Changes

Norton & BonnieDo not pass GO
Greasy Rob, Otis the mailman, Stomping Stu and the Doc were deeply engrossed in a Friday night game of Monopoly. A pot of Rington’s Tea steamed away beside Otis, the evening’s banker and custodian of a premium biscuit assortment. Otis had hotels on the green home straight, Rob had all four railway stations, and the Doc had a strong collection of reds and pinks.

Stu, meanwhile, was on skid row. “I’d have more luck playing Bonopoly’, he grumbled. ‘What on earth is that?’, quizzed the Doc. ‘Same as Monopoly, but the streets have no name,’ replied Stu, preparing to mortgage his Water Works.

Do not collect £200
‘Whatever happened to your investigations into U-block technique? quizzed Stu as he reached for the Community Chest. ‘Never got my head round it,’ answer the Doc, squaring up his wad of bank notes. But, by coincidence, you remember the late, great, Snortin’ Norton Buffalo, a renowned master of U-blocked technique? Well, my dear friend Brian of Santa Barbara CA has asked me to identify the seven harps Mr Buffalo uses in a 1977 video. He’s rocking out with Bonnie Raitt on a bluesy version of Del Shannon’s Runaway. Let’s look at the forensics…’.

Your annuity matures, collect £150
The band descends through the keys of C, Bb, Ab and G. In turn, Norton rotates 4 harps in the major keys of F, Eb, Db and C, using 2nd position (cross-harp) throughout. At the end of his second rotation however, Norton loses track of his harps and pockets. Missing the final switch from Db to C, he sticks with his Db and somehow carves out an ending.

Some commentators have called this a fail. Others have accused him of trying to steal the limelight from Bonnie. These comments are unfair. He was evidently supposed to take the spotlight having rehearsed it with Bonnie’s full endorsement. He might have mitigated the risk of misfiring his harps by arranging them on an open surface. It would sacrifice some of the showmanship, but the ride would be less turbulent. Nevertheless, Norton was working without a safety net and that takes guts. To spontaneously carve out the ending on a Db harp, a semitone higher than planned, was nothing short of miraculous. He certainly flashed an impressive get out of jail free card there.

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

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

Doctor’s fees, pay £50
‘And that, dear boy, is how it was done’. The Doc tendered his own Get Out of Jail Free card, rolled a double five and, on the second shake, dropped his Top Hat on Fleet Street for a complete set of reds. ‘B-b-bollocks’, stuttered Stu, just as Nick Lowe’s Half A Boy And Half Man came on the gramophone. ‘Best be fleet, upon your feet, or else the SPG’s gonna be clearing the street….’

4 thoughts on “Norton Buffalo Navigates Four Key Changes

  • November 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm
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    ‘Community Chest’ – collect 100 pounds from each subscriber for a great post and website.
    Great piece, thanks.

  • March 16, 2022 at 11:39 pm
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    well that clears that up..and thank you..been wonderin on that one since then…all in 2nd position..whoda thunk it..i just figured all along that he was switching positions…cool.

  • March 17, 2022 at 10:57 am
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    Thanks for checking in at the Harp Surgery Bruce. Smoke and mirrors, but great showmanship! The proof of the pudding is how it all sounds when you close your eyes. His musicality and phrasing are still exceptional.

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