Reply To: A new piano and melodica video


This is becoming a very interesting discussion about the expressiveness or lack thereof of the melodica.
I wonder if we shouldn’t move it to it’s own thread?

I find it interesting those of you who think the melodica is inexpressive? I find it quite expressive. I think it might have to do with the perspective of our expectations.
The melodica is certainly limited in what sort of effects can be achieved compared to a harmonica but if you are coming from an organ background as I do, the ability to have breath control over volume of each note, tongue articulation of attack and note bending is a huge advantage over an organ where the pitch is fixed, any sort of volume swell is controlled imprecisely and rather mechanically by a foot pedal and articulation is really unknown.
Even the much acclaimed Hammond organ is rather flat and lifeless if the Leslie is shut off or you play it through it’s original speaker system.

I’ve been lucky enough to have some brass instrument experience and really think the melodica is as expressive as any of the valve brass instruments perhaps more so since you can play chords and intervals.

I think where we do suffer is the large amount of players who simply blow into the melodica as if filling a balloon with no articulation or change in pressure.
If a player has a piano background and no real wind instrument experience they are used to controlling expression by finger pressure and speed which has no effect on the melodica. They see the keyboard and feel at home. So they blow harshly in one end and bang away at the plastic keys producing a rather unmusical and inexpressive performance. This coupled with the plastic construction and association with early music education causes the melodica to have an association with buffoonery in many people minds.

The melodica has not become mainstream because it is not sufficiently expressive. It is, as Stuart says, “limited to the sound of free reeds” but without the expressiveness of the harp. Professional musicians have better choices.

I’m going to challenge you on that one statement.
I think the failure to become mainstream has more to do with the fact that there was never or hasn’t yet been a bona-fide dedicated melodica playing star. The closest we have had is Augustus Pablo but he never quite broke into the mainstream.
Until there is a good-looking player making the talk-shows and festivals I don’t think it will matter how wonderful an instrument we come up with or how virtuosic a player. Till somebody makes playing the melodica sexy, I think we are going to always be a keyboardists or accordionists side instrument.

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