Reply To: Keyboard harmonica: accordion style vs. melodica style



I like your perspective and your revealing recording. Great sensitive playing too. Thanks.

I agree that getting more expressiveness out of a melodica is THE challenge for instrument designers and players alike.

As my last recording demonstrated, and as you (everyone here) have heard me say many times (but which I will repeat again for the benefit of newcomers), there already is a melodica that can do all you demonstrated with your Vibrandoneon MKII, and it costs about $25 to $75 on Ebay. It is the Hohner Piano 26/27/32 series of melodicas, where not just holes but the sound outlet valves are located on the back side of the instrument (opposite side of the keys).

Vibrato/tremolo, volume modulation, timbre modulation, bending, distortion from playing hard, distortion from humming into the mouthpiece; ability to use microphone techniques, in particular, big bass from proximity effect and microphone distortion from compression; ability to easily modify the sound holes with external devices (think mutes and custom sound chambers), phenomena I hear but can’t even explain, and a few thing I am not ready to reveal yet are all possible with the Hohner Piano 26/27/32.

And, apparently, this $50 melodica is so versatile that is being used in serious music as the recent video of Waltz Gramophone shows.

I understand the comparison of the Hohner Piano 26/27/32 to a Vibrandoneon MKII is not a fair one. But the fact remains that the design of these Hohners, perhaps unintentionally, makes them more expressive than most any other melodica. Or so I thought. Quetscher has just demonstrated that with some creativity and the right design, you can increase the expressiveness of other melodicas as well.

What secrets lay inside (or outside) a Hohner Professional 36 I wonder?

The caveat is you need to like the sound, you need to want to go there, you need to put in the considerable time needed to learn the techniques (which are not easy to execute), and in the case of the Hohners, you need to put up with the shortcomings of what is otherwise a pretty average melodica.


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