The harmonica is a Musical instrument with wind functioning on the same principle as the Accordéon: lic Sheer S Metal of size and single weights, produce sounds while vibrating with the passage of the Air (aspired or blown).
Of a normal tessiture of three octave S, it is declined in three big families:
- the simple harmonica diatonic;
- the double harmonica diatonic;
- the chromatic harmonica.
The harmonica is an instrument resting on the principle of the bagpipe with free sheer. In this category one finds instruments as varied as the Accordéon or the Guimbarde. But when one made vibrate the air (and thus the sheers) by bellows or the second simply with the finger, their ancestor common to all is already much nearer to the harmonica. Indeed, the oldest instrument with free sheer seems to be a Chinese instrument dating from thousand-year-old IIIe before Jesus-Christ, the Me buat, which was played breath. And to crown the resemblance, this instrument could be already played as the harmonica nowadays either into blowing, or while aspiring, which is rare still today.
The exact origin of the modern harmonica, the instrument such as it is known nowadays, is rather fuzzy. Certain legends want that Friedrich Buschmann is the inventor (still that the organization of the notes had been different), although that is not certain.
Always it is that the harmonica started to be sold in Europe in the years 1820. It is as probably in these same years as was imagined by Richter the idea to place two sheers per hole, thus making it possible to be able to play two notes per hole (actually much more, since one will see technical thereafter discovered to create new notes): one while aspiring, the other into blowing. Thus the harmonica could return at the origins of the instruments to free sheers. Called Richter also had the idea to grant the harmonicas according to the tuning éponyme from now on celebrates, making it possible to obtain easily certain agreements. One knows few things unfortunately well nowadays about this true founder of the modern harmonica, not even his complete name with exactitude (the sources contradict or give indices allowing only assumptions). One supposes however that it was about a Gipsy, in the true direction of an inhabitant of the Czech area of Bohemia.
Thus was born the simple harmonica diatonic in its modern form.
Its true popularity then will not delay. German craftsmen launch out in the manufacture of the harmonica, in particular with Trossingen, a German village of Bade-Wurtemberg in Black Forest, where a craftsman named Messner started to produce in 1833. It would seem that in the Thirties, the trade of the harmonica is regarded more as a trade of jewels than like a genuine instrument. The craftsman of Trossingen had a clock making neighbor, Mathias Hohner, which decided to launch out itself in this trade in full expansion in 1855, under the exhortations of its wife, Anna. Unfortunately it did not make as pretty harmonicas as Messner, which is obstructing at the time since they are still regarded as jewels.
It is there that the true rise of the harmonica as an instrument will be played since Anna has one second idea, that to send the harmonica to Hans, a cousin emigrated with the the United States. In 1857 east creates the company Matth HOHNER AG and a page of the history is turned. The first year, it produced 700 of them. Ten years later, it will have produced of them 22.000 and in 1887 the production will have risen to a million harmonicas.
The harmonica takes finally its place of instrument for which it was intended. Better, it becomes the instrument of the traveller, that which any conqueror of the west could put in his pocket, side by side with its Colt. It was thus the perfect instrument for the new continent.
In spite of the reduced knowledge of the general public for this instrument, it would seem that the harmonica is in quantity the instrument more sold with the world nowadays.
Obviously it should be admitted that if the majority of people already saw a harmonica, it keeps the statute of toy without much musical interest with the eyes of much. Curiously, the harmonica is considered better out of Europe than on the old continent where it was created. In the USA of course with the blues, but also in Japan and in good number of countries of Asia where one finds orchestras whole of harmonicas interpreting works of the traditional repertory. Moreover it should not be forgotten that harmonicist playing of the harmonica a diatonic has some in general several (ideally at least 12, for each tonality, without counting the fact of being able to want harmonicas special, like more serious or acuter for example) and that, contrary to the majority of the other instruments which can be kept with life, the harmonica wears and must be changed. Indeed, it can be damaged rather easily and the weak price of the majority of the models makes that many harmonicists will prefer to repurchase a new harmonica rather than to tire itself to change plates (famous the sheers ) broken.
Types of harmonicaThere are multiples, since each choice of tuning, materials to build them, from size distinguishes them from/to each other. One can nevertheless divide the population of the harmonicas into five big families:
- the diatoniques ones with simple blades (with choices of multiple tunings: Richter, semi decreased, etc…) ;
- diatonic tremors or double blades (granted to the octave);
- chromatics with pull knobs or not;
- the low ones (which is chromatic) played into only puffed up;
- the chords or polyphonias, harmonicas of playing accompaniment of the agreements only.
The simple Harmonica diatonic
See also: simple Harmonica diatonic
It is about the traditional harmonica. For this reason probably, it is most widespread (at least in Occident), but also because they is the least bulky (the traditional models make 10 cm length roughly), therefore easily transportable, that it is cheap for a reasonable quality and that it historically proved its value in many musical styles (Folklore, Blues - Rock, Country, Jazz) thanks to its many techniques.
The double Harmonica diatonic
Often from a length of a score of centimetres, its name comes owing to the fact that instead of having only one sheer (vibrating plate) for each note, it has two of them which are:
- is granted in a way very slightly different, which confers a sonority tremor to him;
- is separated from an octave, which confers to him a sonority of the type accordion .
It presents the disadvantage of requiring a more difficult technique to produce deteriorations, (so difficult that much thinks that it is impossible, whereas it is enough to stop one of the two holes with its lower lip or higher to be able to deteriorate in the other, left free) from where the popular image that the harmonica is an instrument very limited and restricted with the folklore. One can find of them some dependant per pairs of two separate harmonicas of a fifth: C and G, for example. One can bring this double harmonica closer to the two lines of a diatonic accordion.
However, certain musicians (Asian for the majority) knew to reveal to him impressive qualities thanks to a different approach. At the time of the championships of the world of harmonica, one thus saw diatonic harmonicists doubles Chinese to play of traditional in “juggling” with several harmonicas of different tonalities what enabled them to avoid the problem of deteriorations. For example, a harmonica in C (C) overcome by another in C (C) makes it possible to cover the complete chromatic range.
Its notes, for a harmonica in major C, are distributed as follows:
The chromatic HarmonicaThe last born of the family, it makes it possible to play all the chromatic range in a simple way.
The most widespread models are generally made up of 24 divisions (12 holes). One also finds of the 16 holes (increased of an octave in more in the low register) and more rarely of the 10 and 14 holes. Each division comprises 4 plates:
- 2 plates producing of the notes into blowing: a note natural and this same note, known as deteriorated, raised of a semitone.
- 2 plates producing of the notes while aspiring: a natural note and this same note, deteriorated, raised of a semitone.
Basiquement only the plates producing the natural notes vibrate into blowing or aspiring in the instrument. To produce the notes deteriorated in their respective divisions, a pull knob (a small piston on the line of the harmonica) must be activated. Indeed, at rest, it stops the part of the notes faded and lets pass the air only in the part of the natural notes. Actuated, it makes the opposite.
1. pull knob at rest: 2. thorough pull knob:
This harmonica is employed much in Jazz and Classical music where the simplicity of access to the whole of the notes allows him more consideration. It is also useful when the musician prefers to have same the " son" whatever the played note, which the diatonique one does not allow which will produce a different sound feeling according to whether the harmonicist plays a natural note, a deterioration or a overnote.
The Harmonica and Musical genresHistorically the harmonica, although being originating in Europe (of Germany in particular, commercially speaking), especially thrived in the United States. It was made a place in particular in the blues mediums where it is interesting to note that it gradually replaced the violin in the orchestras of blues; indeed, these two instruments have about the same register and even stamp. One can think that its low costs also took part to popularize this instrument in a medium where the money did not run with flood. However its great expressivity also made an instrument of predilection of it many bluesmen. It is told that certain harmonicists of legend like both Sony Boy Williamson or Little Walter were able to make groan, cry or speak their instrument. This is why the harmonica diatonic is still nowadays closely related to the blues and has sometimes still evil to leave this image.
Nevertheless the instrument knew to be other styles of expression, in particular in the American folk musics, like the Country music. Nowadays, it found new forms (chromatics, diatonic doubles or other), enabling him to test itself with other registers, but the harmonica diatonic itself was able to adapt to all the kinds. That was partly allowed to him by the relatively recent discovery of the various techniques finally enabling him to be chromatic and thus not to be more regarded as an instrument amputee in certain mediums (in particular the mediums where it is current to use a chromatic instrument in the same piece, like the traditional one or jazz).
Wiring for sound
At present, there does not exist electric harmonica, although certain commercial projects exist, which were not born in the trade yet. The harmonica is thus basically an acoustic instrument. The wiring for sound of the instrument (for goal various, like the recording, the play on scene, with amplified intruments or with the powerful sound, etc) thus implies traditional methods using microphones and of amplification.
The most traditional remainder to use microphones with voice, allowing to keep a pure sound of the harmonica without transformation. However the harmonicists through the years tested themselves with any kind of microphones which had various utilities (like the microphones of station), or which were intended for other instruments. That made it possible to the harmonicists to find sounds interesting .
For a few years, certain companies have created specific microphones for the harmonica. However that enormously does not prevent harmonicists to be continued to use varied microphones of origin. One of the most notable phenomena is the artisanal manufacture of microphones starting from elements of recovery. These microphones, called i-mic, in general have a very marked sound crunch, which can be required by many musicians.
Contrary to the microphones, where a trade was created (although it inevitably is very not successful), there does not exist any system of amplification specifically intended for the harmonica. This is why when a harmonicist wishes a specific sound in amplification, it will seek in amplifications of other instruments, and most of the time in the amplifiers for guitar.
Just as for amplification, there does not exist solution of effects dedicated to the harmonica. Once again, the harmonicists are thus useful themselves in the effects of other instruments which they have the occasion to test, in particular pedals of effects for guitars.
- " Harmonica' S Life" - Techniques, partitions, fingering charts
"HarmoPoint" - Diatonic Initiation with the harmonica with the assistance of a virtual harmo.
"The man and the harmonica" - Site of information on the players of harmonica: topicality, concerts, festivals, albums etc
"Blog of Ptiloup" - Page of bonds on the principal sites French-speaking person dealing with the harmonica
"Harmonicaland - the French-speaking newsgroup on the harmonica". And you register click on this Yahoo Groupe!!!
"Good Wind! " - The harmonica diatonic & its acoutisque: The Councils, exercises, fingering charts, extracts, opinion…
Several vidéos of musics to the harmonica
Partitions and information detailed on the harmonicas diatonic and chromatic
history of Hohner
the harmonica explained to beginners (various models, manner of holding its instrument, etc)
Simple: Harmonica Zh-yue: 口琴
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