Dave Toussaint

In 1968 Dave Toussaint has made a documentary movie for Pete Townsend dedicated to the harmonica. It was called "Harmonica". It was shown at the “The Screen on the Green” at Notting Hill.

He did some session work in the 60's - largely folk, rock and blues. This enabled him to play with people such as: Johnny Weider (Ex-Family and Animals), Alex Dmchowski (Zappa, Aynsley Dunbar etc), Peter Green (jam session only), Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Davey Graham, Annie Briggs, Davey Payne (Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Blockheads), Jimmy Winston (Winston's Fumbs, Small Faces) and others. In the 80's, I played with "The Wolves" (R'n'B) and several other bands.

He has done a lot of duo and trio work in jazz, blues and folk. He is the founder of the East London Acoustic Music Workshop, a lottery-funded project making top-rate music workshops which was available to the local community, free of charge. He also ran the connected East London Music Collective which held a free session every week where they worked on songs together, taught each other, jammed and networked. He also is an inventor of some special tunings which are provided by SEYDEL!

We are lucky to hear him say: "I recently switched to Seydel initially attracted by their low harps. I have found both the product and customer service to be excellent. The harmonicas themselves are very well made and beautiful both to look at and to play."

Some quotes:

"Dave Toussaint is a phenomenal talent." John Malkovich

"One of the most versatile exponents of the harmonica." Croydon Advertiser

"The best Harmonica player I've heard in ten years of running this club." Gary Davis, Ruskin House Folk & Blues club

"Superbly expressive harmonica work!" Rock'n'Reel

Dave Toussaint invented some intersting special tunings which are really interesting for playing tunes different from the "good old Blues". These tunings can be obtained in the SEYDEL HarpConfigurator

Here is what he says about his inventions:

Dave Toussaint's Jazz Tuning

The advantages are that in 2nd position ("Cross Harp") you still have the blues scale (from blow3) but you have the major 7 and can bend down to the minor 7. Lots of Jazz standards become instantly accessible.

Try "Misty", Someone to Watch over Me""Our Day will come" etc. You also have an extra octave split playable on 2 and 5 draw. You can also bend this octave down accurately with ease to the minor 7th as there are now no other bend on the 2 draw and you have added a bend on 5draw where there was none.

5 overblow is often difficult and you don't need it now. Even more exciting is that it plays a beautiful jazz-blues scale in 6th position (starting from 3 draw) and is great starting from the 2 draw which is now the flat 5 of that scale. 5th position remains the same and all other scales are still playable.

I found that "Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat", "Take Five" and "The Pink Panther"-once very difficult were now much easier to play. The new chords sound great, too! I originally used the 9draw flatted by 1 semitone but that way you lose the minor 7th from the top end cross harp scale, so I now prefer to leave 9 draw unaltered and get the flat 7th from 9blow bend as in the usual Richter tuning.

Zydebop tuning

The Zydebop tuning gives a major and minor 7th (1st position) next to each other on draws 6 and 7which are also the major and minor 3rd in cross harp. These can be played in very rapid succession compared with having to switch from 6 overblow to 7 draw and back! This eliminates the need for 6 hole overblow, an extra easily playable octave appears on draws 2 and 5, plus you can now bend 5 and 6 draws down 2 semitones.

When you play the arpeggios you get a bebop scale. If you play tongue blocking and use tongue switch technique you get a wonderful "Zydeco”-Louisiana type accordion effect. The extra octave split is also bendable. Pure fun!


Dave Toussaint


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Dave Toussaint
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