Hi Mark and Others,
Sorry if I over do the harmonica comparisons.
I think it is only natural to look at other instruments and apply what we learn to our own instrument; especially in my case, where I am trying to emulate the blues harp for playing the blues.
I purchased a Hohner Marine Band blues harp a few days ago just to understand the capability of free reed instruments better. I have learned a lot from studying the harmonica and I have only owned it about three or four days. I played several years with a great harp player, but never really looked at his instruments.
Unamplified, a Hohner Marine Band harp sounds much warmer and has considerable less volume than a melodica. This was a surprise to me after listening to blues players for a million years. The instrument is so simple. A block of wood with holes, two reed plates, and two metal covers. The darn thing is so small! It’s about the length of your index finger. How do players get such a huge sound from this little instrument! The reeds are about 1/4 inch from your mouth. When you look at it from the back, you see the reeds are just exposed to the air. Then are just right there hanging out, yet the sound is very smooth when played unamplified.
I learned several other things. I learned what notes are played when a harp player plays chords so I can kind of imitate that. I learned, just like the melodica, how hard it might be to make great music with a harp. I can see it would take weeks and weeks of practice just to make a good sounding note. Clearly with the harp, as with the melodica, it is the player and the application of hundreds of techniques (and soul of course) that make the instrument talk.
While there is one website for the melodica (the venerable Melocia World), there are scores and scores of really great websites by professional harp players (blues and otherwise) filled with so much information it is hard to believe. I have gathered many great ideas about playing and technique from these websites and some of the instructional videos on these websites.
So with that said, I will try to focus more on the melodica with my posts except for one more post that I will publish in a few minutes.