Melodica
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Melodica

The melodica, also known as the pianica, blow-organ, key harmonica, free-reed clarinet, or melodyhorn, is a free-reed instrument similar to the pump organ and harmonica. It has a musical keyboard on top, and is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece that fits into a hole in the side of the instrument. Pressing a key opens a hole, allowing air to flow through a reed. The keyboard is usually two or three octaves long. Melodicas are small, light, and portable. They are popular in music education, especially in Asia.

The modern form of the instrument was invented by Hohner in the 1950s,[1] though similar instruments have been known in Italy since the 19th century.[2]

The melodica was first used as a serious musical instrument in the 1960s by composers such as Steve Reich, in his piece titled Melodica (1966).[3] Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal developed a technique consisting of singing while playing the melodica, resulting in a wide tonal and harmonic palette.[4] It is associated with Jamaican dub and reggae musician Augustus Pablo who popularized it in the 1970s.[5]

Types

Layout of a melodica keyboard with three octaves (36 keys)
Hohner Melodica Soprano: right side, keyboard and bottom views

Melodicas are classified primarily by the range of the instrument. Melodicas with different ranges have slightly different shapes.

  • Soprano and alto melodicas are higher-pitched and thinner sounding than tenors. Some are designed to be played with both hands at once: the left hand plays the black keys, and the right hand plays the white keys. Others are played like the tenor melodica.
  • Tenor melodicas are a lower-pitched type of melodica. The left hand holds a handle on the bottom, and the right hand plays the keyboard. Tenor melodicas can be played with two hands by inserting a tube into the mouthpiece hole and placing the melodica on a flat surface.
  • Bass melodicas also exist, but are less common than other tenor, alto, and soprano.
  • The Accordina, generally made of metal, uses the same mechanism as a traditional melodica. The keyboard is replaced with a button arrangement similar to a chromatic button accordion's keyboard.

Wooden melodicas

Although the majority of melodicas are made of plastic, some are made primarily of wood. The Sound Electra corporation makes the MyLodica, a wooden melodica designed "...to produce a warmer richer sound than that of its plastic relatives."[6] The Victoria Accordion company in Castelfidardo, Italy, produces a range of wooden melodicas and accordinas that they market under the name Vibrandoneon.

Alternative names

The melodica is known by various names, often at the whim of the manufacturer. Melodion (Suzuki), Triola (Seydel), Melodika (Apollo), Melodia (Diana), Pianica (Yamaha), Melodihorn (Samick), Pianetta and Clavietta are just some of the variants. This can lead to some confusion, as many people[who?] will use different names as a blanket term to describe all of these instruments. The melodica may colloquially be referred to as a "hooter". This was the source of the name for Philadelphia band, The Hooters.[7]

Two hands

Melodica can be played with two hands employing an air tube.

Played horizontally, with two hands and an air tube
Played vertically, with two hands and an air tube

To blow air, a foot pump can also be used.[8][9][10]

Comparison with traditional woodwind instruments

Melodicas are unusual because unlike most conventional woodwind instruments, they make use of a piano keyboard rather than a specialized fingering system using holes and/or buttons. This allows the player to use a single finger to play any one note of the instrument's range, rather than requiring several fingers to play individual notes, as is the case with most other woodwinds. The player can then play chords by using their remaining fingers to press additional keys, and thus, sound additional notes. In other words, whereas most woodwind instruments such as saxophones or clarinets are monophonic when played by trained musicians, the melodica is polyphonic. Additionally, for a beginner, a melodica can play accidentals more easily than a woodwind, which requires special fingering.

Gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ Missin P (2004). "A Brief History of Mouth-Blown Free Reed Instruments: Melodica Family". Archived from the original on 2013-09-26. Retrieved . 
  2. ^ "Vibrandoneon". Duskyrecords.nl. Retrieved . 
  3. ^ "Steve Reich - Melodica". Boosey & Hawkes. 1966-05-22. Retrieved . 
  4. ^ Hermeto Pascoal - Rebuliço on YouTube
  5. ^ Kliment and Watchtel (2007). "Augustus Pablo". Retrieved . 
  6. ^ "Mylodica". Melodicas.com. Retrieved . 
  7. ^ Darling, John (2000). What's in a Name?: The Book of Bands. Writers Club Press. ISBN 978-0-595-09629-9. 
  8. ^ Odd instruments are music to composers' ears
  9. ^ Blow Keyboard with foot pump, using wine cask / bota bag, cork, tubes and a pump, in a similar way to feet bagpipes.
  10. ^ Blow keyboard bagpipe mod in Make (magazine)

External links

  • Media related to Melodicas at Wikimedia Commons

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Melodica
 



 

 
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