Reply To: Clavietta in the UK

Alan Brinton

Nice ads!

Do you mean the original melodica, Daren? We know the Clavietta appeared in 1958, and Hohner’s first Melodica also appeared in 1958, the button model green HM-900. I have searched extensively for advertisements and announcements, and the earliest I’ve found for the HM-900 is early December, 1958, The Clavietta seems to have been available earlier in the year. But the Clavietta was a true keyboard harmonica (as the Japanese understood this, having a piano style keyboard). My inclination is to regard the HM-900 as a transitional instrument, from which it would seem to follow that the original Melodica in the brand-name sense is the HM-900 but that the first melodica (“melodica” in the generic sense, or keyboard harmonica) was the 1958 Clavietta. The Clavietta also was more clearly introduced as a serious musical instrument, while Hohner trumpeted the first Melodicas as easy to play, requiring no musical background, and especially suited to children. Where to draw the line between what’s a melodica and what isn’t is debatable and somewhat subjective, but I think a reasonable case can be made for identifying the melodica (generic sense) as the piano style keyboard instrument that is now so familiar to us.

The 34 key Clavietta shown in the first ad is, I’m thinking we’ll all agree, the original Borel Clavietta. I can think of no reason for thinking the Clavietta isn’t a melodica (generic sense).

Back to top button