The chromatic harmonica

Version 3.1 4Feb04/4May10

The diatonic and chromatic scales

Here is a keyboard covering slightly more than one octave. The diatonic octave runs through C D E F G A B C; and the chromatic octave runs through C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C. Note that Eb is rendered by D# and so on. Click a key to hear its sound. [The keyboard image was obtained from a now-extinct site; and the sounds were obtained, circa 1997, from Michael Ossman's www.ossman.com/bigears.]

___C____ ___D____ ___E____ ___F____ ___G____ ___A____ ___B____ ___C____ ___D____ ___E____
Here is the musical notation for the notes:-
 C     D     E     F     G     A     B     C 

How to play the chromatic harmonica

The note produced by a chromatic harmonica depends on whether the end-button is out or in, and on whether you blow or draw, as shown in the following figure:-
Slide out:-
Blow C __ E__ G __ C__ C__ E__ G__ C__ C__ E__ G__ C__
Draw __D __F __A __B __D __F __A __B __D __F __A __B
Slide in:-
Draw _D# __F# _A# _C _D# __F# _A# _C _D# __F# _A# _C
Blow C# _ F_ G# _ C#__ C#_ F_ G#_ C#__ C#_ F_ G#_ C#__

Asssume that the slide is out. View the table as blocks of four.

Note:- Holding the slide in raises every note by a semi-tone, so that C becomes C# (C-sharp), and so on. Note that C# may also be read as Db, and so on.

Assignment for Christmas Day

Assume that you received your chromatic harmonica on Christmas morning. Then your goal is to play Home on the Range by the end of Boxing Day. You can do so if you work through a sequence of tunes such as the following:-

The Hero chromatic harmonica

The Hero chromatic harmonica is made by Shanghai Guo Guang Harmonica Co Ltd. [Click "english" at the site.]

See, also, Ron Gluckman's article on the manufacture of harmonicas.

Music in the public domain

Sheet Music Online.

Some harmonica sites on the WWW

Wikipedia: Harmonica    

Jack's Harmonica Page.

Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica (SPAH).

Larry Adler

The Electric Library's page on Larry Adler.


Document: © 1998 D.R. Watson
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