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Harmonicas (aka French harp or mouth organ) is a member of the reed family of instruments, featuring most notably in genres such as blues, American folk music, classical music, jazz, country, and rock – check out “The Wizard” by Black Sabbath.


Types of Harmonica


There are many types of harmonica that include diatonic, chromatic, tremolo, octave, orchestral, and bass models. The two main types that you will come across are Diatonic and Chromatic.


Diatonic harmonicas contain the notes of a specific scale, and are mainly used in Blues, Rock, Country, and Pop Music. Chromatic harmonicas play all the notes in the chromatic scale and are more commonly used in Jazz and Classical music.


Playing the Harmonica


The basic principle when it comes to playing a harmonica remains the same by using the mouth to blow air into the holes along the mouthpiece. Each hole is a chamber containing a reed - or reeds -, which is a flat, elongated spring that resonates in response to air passing over it. However, as with many others, harmonicas may appear simple instruments to play but are in fact incredibly complex when it comes to accomplishing mastery.


For example, did you know that an important technique in performance is bending, which causes a drop in pitch by making embouchure adjustments (changing the shape of the lips, tongue, and facial muscles). You can overbend, overblow, and overdraw reeds to affect changes on the reeds in each chamber, giving the instrument far greater range that you might expect. Then there are further techniques including many different types of Vibrato, Tremolo, and more.

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