History of the Harmonica
- Harmonicas were introduced to America in 1857 when a German clockmaker named Matthias Hohner began mass producing his "mouth harps." The diatonic harmonica had reached full development by the 1920s, and became the popular instrument we know today.
Types of Harmonicas
- Diatonic harmonicas are most popular and come in different keys, with C being one of the most popular. There are types of harmonicas as well. The chromatic harmonica, which uses twelve holes and a button, is capable of playing all the notes in the musical scale. There are also tremolo harmonicas, designed to produce a wavering (tremolo) effect, and a chord harmonica, which can produce up to 48 chord types.
Construction of a Harmonica
- The harmonica is one of the simplest instruments made. A cover plate, usually of metal construction, holds the comb, or body, of the harmonica, along with its reeds, in place.
Musical Functions of a Harmonica
- The harmonica is one of the easiest, and least expensive, instruments to learn. A harmonica is also one of the most versatile instruments since it makes an excellent instrument for solo players, and can be heard in diverse musical genres ranging from blues to progressive rock.
- The basic method of getting sound from a harmonica is by blowing air into holes or drawing air out. Just about anyone can produce notes this way. Special playing techniques include bending notes and trilling notes, which skilled players accomplish with their tongues.