A Musical Guide to Playing the Harmonica

A pocket-size organ, also known as the harmonica, is one of the most versatile and portable musical instruments that exists today. Millions of amateurs, as well as professional musicians, enjoy playing the harmonica; which can be a great compliment to other musical instruments as well as solo instrument. There are many different types of harmonicas with the most common being the diatonic harmonica. The diatonic harmonica has ten reed chambers (pipes) making several tones.

History of the Harmonica

The modern-day harmonica, also known as the harp or mouth organ, was developed by a German clockmaker named Christian Buschman in the early 1800s. This musical device was similar to the Sheng, a Chinese free reed larger instrument used for hundreds of years prior to the harmonica. After several modifications, a German man by the name of Mathias Hoehner, manufactured the harmonica and started the first mass production line of harmonicas which is still in operation today under the brand Hoehner. Harmonicas reached a height of popularity in North America during the post war era in the 1950s in Blues and American Folk Music.

How to Play the Harmonica

The harmonica is unique in its musical capabilities and learning to play can take a bit of practice. There are many techniques that can be used to improve skills for playing the harmonica. The harmonica is also used as therapy for several health conditions as well as psychological conditions. For people who suffer from conditions that affect the lungs, the breathing techniques used to play the harmonica can improve overall lung capacity. Learning to play songs on the harmonica can be accomplished by reading tablature music sheets which are fairly easy even a novice can accomplish the skill but practice can improve ability to play well. Practice and breathing techniques will improve note accuracy on the harmonica.

Guide to Tube Amplifiers

Using complimentary equipment can enhance the sound of the harmonica. Amplifiers, speakers and microphones are typically used to distort the tone to create a blues sounding tone. Many professional musicians use this type of equipment which can mimic a saxophone sound that adds a different dimension to the music that is played. The difference in an amplified versus an acoustic harmonica sound can be likened to that of a guitar. An acoustic guitar has much different sound than an electric, amplified guitar. All amplifiers have different ranges of sound that they can produce. The desired sound is an important factor to consider when choosing an amplifier.