Does anyone play the melodica for reasons other than the sound?
Tagged: Janko keyboard conversion
November 5, 2019 at 12:24 am #11019KevinParticipant
Does anyone play the melodica for reasons other than the sound?
I for one am not a great fan of the free reed sound. In particular the accordion or concertina. I don’t care for the melodica models that sound accordion like or some of the two-handed techniques that sound accordion-ish.
Why do I play the melodica then?
I’m old enough to remember when the small portable electronic keyboards were not around. It was handy to have a small keyboard that didn’t require batteries or be a piece of furniture.
Also the expression!!! the ability to combine those breath-flow techniques combined with keyboard precision is wonderful!
Just curious about the rest of you and your attraction to the instrument?November 5, 2019 at 4:34 am #11020Melodica-MeParticipant
Kevin, I think it has always just been a fun instrument to playView this post on Instagram
Mister Melodica from Monsters of Melodica in 1982 acoustic Jam with Los Freddys beloved Mexican band formed nearly 60 years and still touring. Picture taken during El Primer Tonto session in Los Angles CA #losfreddys #melódicas #mistermelodica #monstersofmelodica #jaming #unplugged #mexicanband #solo #studiotime #impromptu #mexicannationaltreasure
A post shared by Monsters Of Melodica (@monsters_of_melodica) onNovember 5, 2019 at 9:03 pm #11023David ColpittsParticipant
I am new to the instrument, and am interested mainly because it offers the free-reed sound with the full chromaticity of the piano keyboard. All my other instruments are diatonic, and this will open other keys to me. However, I am obsessed with the Janko conversions I have done; I will try to find a way to send sound links for all to hear, once I have another month or so under my belt.
DavidNovember 6, 2019 at 10:14 am #11024Daren BanarsëKeymaster
I was drawn to the melodica for a few reasons. I trained as a classical pianist before working as a composer, and dreamed of playing a wind instrument, where you could swell notes and play with expression. I also wanted to play an instrument I could travel with, put in my pocket and take anywhere.
I tried several instruments for around a year each. My first was a wooden recorder, then a chromatic harmonica, then an accordina. I loved the accordina, but it just wasn’t loud enough. After that I tried the melodica, which I’ve stuck with ever since. Of course the advantage is that I already play the piano, though as melodica/piano players know, although the key layout is the same, the technique is entirely different.
I’ve always loved the sound of the concertina, so I’m quite happy to be able to achieve a very similar sound.November 6, 2019 at 10:16 pm #11025KevinParticipant
More than the sound I’d be very interested to see the construction of your Janko conversion. I’ve considered that myself in the past.November 8, 2019 at 1:49 am #11027MyshaParticipant
Melodicas Hohner Soprano and Alto are narrow enough to be played left-handed, and they actually play where your attention is.
November 8, 2019 at 4:24 am #11030Alan BrintonParticipant
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by Mysha.
The sound is a big factor, but another is that it encourages improvisation.January 23, 2020 at 12:23 am #11168Pál KrammerParticipant
(for some reason my reply to this topic disappeared after making a very minor edit – I’m attempting to re-post it; my apologies if this somehow results in multiple identical replies)
David: a question for you below.
Initially I became interested in harmonicas and bought a few different models in different keys. I became a little disappointed in harmonica forums, books, and YouTube videos, because 99% of harmonica discussion seems to involve bending notes (certainly for Blues); it seems few are interested in playing the harmonica straight in First Position.
Then, on a sax forum, someone who was actually interested in accordions bought a melodica because it was far less expensive and then a discussion ensued about both accordions and melodicas. Initially I’d never considered the accordion seriously, but as I learned about it, the register switches, the reed banks, the bass buttons, I became fascinated. I also like the artistic work of the faceplate and register switches of accordions. My local music store had five last month; they’ve sold two. I’ve given myself a year to study them before I consider buying one.
Anyway, that melodica discussion along with samples of play led me to investigate further – which led me to videos and reviews on this site. I bought my first melodica, a P-32D, just last week.
So – the Jankó keyboard! Pál von Jankó was a Hungarian, a pianist, and an engineer; I am just a Hungarian and an engineer. However, I am familiar with the clever design of his keyboard, although I’ve never seen a real one. In his day, such a keyboard would be mechanically complex; today, with electronics, such a keyboard is very feasible! So, David, have you constructed one? If so, surely it isn’t for a melodica – but perhaps I’m wrong?March 15, 2020 at 4:06 pm #11223Lionel AlbertParticipant
Yes, I’m still interested in the accordion.March 15, 2020 at 4:33 pm #11224David ColpittsParticipant
Hello. This reply, although belated, is aimed at Pal and Kevin, and all interested in Janko keyboard melodicas. Yes, I have converted two, and am nearly ready to do #3. I have some trouble with this site software (I am sure due to my own novice level) and can’t really get pictures. Right now, the second iteration looks almost like a viable design, and it plays easily. My purpose for the whole initiative is to provide myself (and maybe some others, if there’s interest)a “uniform” or “isomorphic” keyboard, like Janko, or Hayden Duet, or some few others. The second version does that, and needs some cosmetic work to make it really presentable. I also used a very inexpensive Amazon melodica for the donor, and it is quite acceptable for what it is. If this virus-caused “quarantine” gives me the time to figure out a simple (YouTube?) way to share pix and sound, then I’ll do it. I have spent most of my discretionary musical practice time lately on the Hayden duet concertina, which is identical to Janko save for being cut up into more rows, for a compact compass, vs. the longer, linear one of a melodica.
DavidMarch 16, 2020 at 12:37 am #11225Pál KrammerParticipant
Hello Lionel and David,
Lionel, your posts and videos on Sax on the Web are what interested me about the melodica. Your playing of the P37D is very good.
David, I am encouraged that you are still working on the Jankó keyboard. When that keyboard arrangement was first conceived, the mechanical complexities made costs and manufacturing difficult. But now with electronics I’m surprised we don’t have a revival.
Yet, I think a Jankó melodica, being mechanical and using air, is still very complex.March 16, 2020 at 4:30 pm #11226Lionel AlbertParticipant
Thank you Pal, I need to improve but it helped me to feel more comfortable when I’m playing melodies on a keyboard. That’s a great tool too.
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