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The History Of Harmonica
Dec 13, 2017

The earliest reed instrument from China, about thousands of years ago, known as Sheng "Sheng". This kind of instrument reverberated by bamboo reeds quickly became popular in Asia and occupies an important place in traditional music. In the late 18th century, Sheng was introduced to Europe and quickly became popular in the music industry.

In the 19th century, European musician began to try to use metal reeds instead of wooden reed in Sheng. Around 1820, a young musician, Christian Friedrich Buschmann, created the first harmonica (relied on as Aura) with metal reeds. This Aura was widely acclaimed by musicians for its unique charm; however, Aura was the only one with no sound absorption.

Around 1825, Europeans Richter invented a musical instrument that became the prototype of a modern harmonica. The instrument has 10 blow holes and two leaf springs, each leaf spring by 10 reeds. In this way, both blowing and breathing can be pronounced on each blowhole, and the notes selected by Richter are now the diatonic Harmonica scales, sometimes called standard Richter scales.

Harmonica mass production was in Vienna in 1829, and soon there were also harmonica factories in other cities. In the German town of Trossingen, watchmaker Christian Messner and his cousin Christian Weiss use their spare time to make harmonica, but soon their harmonica business is booming. A few years later, Matthias Hohner, another local watchmaker, started to visit Messner and Weiss and learned the art of making harmonica and started her own harmonica business.

Obviously, Matthias Hohner is not a great harmonica player, but he is a great businessman. In the market, Matthias beat many competitors and began exporting harmonica to the United States, and soon the United States became his largest market. In 1900, Matthias handed over business to five sons.

In the first half of the 20th century, the popularity of harmonica continued to expand and extend, while the harmonica band also developed rapidly. Hohner developed the Chromatic Harmonica, which can play all notes by controlling a single button. In 1930 Larry Adler became the most famous chromatic harmonica player, an honor that remained until he died in 2001.

In the United States, the harmonica is famous for its blues instruments. The 1930s and early 1940s represented John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson. After World War II, Chicago became the center of blues music, where many prominent players such as Rice Miller (Sonny Boy Williamsom II) and Little Walter gathered. Many people have always thought Little Walter is the most famous blues harmonica player. Little Walter died in 1968.

While the harmonica is extremely popular as a blues instrument, many are familiar with the harmonica through Bob Dylan's folk music. Many outstanding harmonica players like Kym Wilson and Jerry Portnoy continue to develop the blues harmonica style, while others like Howard Levy and Brendan Power form a new and passionate harmonica playing style.


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