Learn from history to build better melodicas

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    Johan Pieterse

    Here is a link to a very interesting page by Pat Missin about the history of Western free-reed instruments.
    It is a well-known fact that there were other interesting free-reed instruments with either buttons or keys witch were also mouthblown just like our modern melodicas.
    Isn’t it possible for melodica manufacturers and artisans to go dust of a few of those old patents and do some research on how we could improve the current melodica to make it a more serious and professional instrument?


    There’s many patents out there, and historical instruments, but I’m not sure going back to them would offer many improvements. Borel clearly researched widely before developing the Accordina and the Clavietta in the 50s. Both masterful instruments, but both also flawed (in therms of volume, tone and note release ‘click’).

    And I haven’t actually heard Wheatstone’s Symphonium, but I imagine that it woudn’t sound as good as a modern melodica. Hohner, Yamaha and Suzuki have developed remarkable instruments, as have Tononi and Borel etc. I think wer’e very nearly there. It’s just fine tuning that’s needed. In particular in the area of reed development

    But fine tuning is costly and can take many years. Maybe we should start a research foundation?


    Well Daren, you have already founded a think tank by starting this site, so why not start a research foundation? Great idea (even if I don’t know exactly how to realize it…)!

    Greetings, Quetscher

    Alan Brinton

    I think you are right about the importance of the information at Pat Missin’s Web site, Johan. It’s a wonderful site. Anyone trying to design a new melodica should be aware of what he says about free reeds and about the history of different kinds of free reed instruments. However, I think the most important developers of melodicas in Europe and Japan have had awareness of this kind of information, as Daren says. They also have been among the makers and developers of other and earlier instruments. Hohner, Suzuki, Yamaha, and Tokai are all musical instrument companies with a history of making and developing other instruments.

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