definition of Wikipedia
A Hohner melodica
|Classification||Wind; free reed aerophone|
|Usually 2 or 3 octaves|
|accordion, harmonica, reed organ, yu|
The melodica, also known as the "blow-organ" or "key-flute", is a free-reed instrument similar to the melodeon 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 melodica was first used as a serious musical instrument in the 1960s by composers such as Steve Reich, in his piece titled Melodica (1966) and jazz musician Phil Moore Jr, on his 1969 Atlantic Records album Right On. Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal developed a technique consisting in singing while playing the melodica, resulting in a wide tonal and harmonical palette . It is associated with Jamaican dub and reggae musician Augustus Pablo who popularized it in the 1970s. In the 1980s, electronic rock band New Order featured the melodica prominently in songs such as "Truth," "Your Silent Face," "Love Vigilantes" and others. Melodicas have also been used in indie folk music by artists such as Rabbit of Steam Powered Giraffe and Paul Duncan of Warm Ghost and Emmanuel Del Real of Café Tacvba.
Melodicas are classified primarily by the range of the instrument. Melodicas with different ranges have slightly different shapes.
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". The Victoria Accordion company, based in Caselfidardo, Italy, produces a range of wooden melodicas and accordinas they market under the name Vibrandoneon.
The melodica is known by various names, often at the whim of the manufacturer. Melodion (Suzuki), Melodika (Apollo), Melodia (Diana), Pianica (Yamaha), Melodihorn (Samick) and Clavietta are just some of the variants. This can lead to some confusion, as many people will use different names as a blanket term to describe all of these instruments. Also known as "The Hooter," from which the Philadelphia band got its name.
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 his remaining fingers to press additional keys, and thus, sound additional notes. In other words, whereas the many woodwind instruments (such as saxophones or clarinets) are monophonic, the melodica is polyphonic.
Additionally, for a beginner, a melodica can play accidentals more easily than a woodwind, which may require extra keys or cross-fingering to reach any notes outside of its key.
These two factors give the melodica an unusual degree of flexibility and contribute to its wide usage in music education.
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