Microtonal melodicas

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  • #7814
    AvatarChick Sangria
    Participant

    Hey there,
    I’m thinking about retuning a melodica one quarter tone higher in order to have access to a quarter-tone scale on two melodicas played simultaneously. Does anybody have experience with this?
    Just came across this article by composer Arne Gieshoff (there doesn’t seem to be a recording of the mentioned piece):
    http://www.bcmg.org.uk/news-and-blogs/2014/01/writing-for-trombone-and-two-melodicas/

    #7817
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    I can’t say much about the musical side of this, Chick, though I have some melodicas that are tuned higher than others and higher than the instruments on my Band-in-a-Box accompaniment, which produces some interesting effects. But I have done a lot of tuning. For starters, melodicas usually come tuned closer to A=442 or 443 than to A=440. So I would begin by tuning one down to A=440. It is easier, in my opinion, to tune up since it involves scraping the tip of the reed rather than the base. Tune the other one up toward a half tone higher. But I’d suggest doing this incrementally, so that you can see what effects you’re getting with the melodicas playing together. This is an opportunity for experimentation.

    Significant changes in the tuning of a melodica are more likely to be successful with some brands and models than others, less successful with thinner, more fragile reeds as on a Suzuki Study 32, more successful with stouter reeds as on a Suzuki M-32 or M-36. The upper level metal tray Suzuki models have, in my opinion, stouter more durable and predictable reeds than most other models and brands. There is also (again, in my opinion) more tolerance in adjusting their gapping. It would be cheaper, of course, to experiment with an inexpensive model.

    #7821
    AvatarChick Sangria
    Participant

    Dear Alan, thanks for your reply. The last sentence exactly sums up my plans, as I have two cheap Suzukis ;). I am also going to ask an accordion technician.
    How do the Suzuki lines compare in bendability? Are stouter reeds easier to bend and will they wear out less?

    #7822
    AvatarChick Sangria
    Participant

    Another question closely related to all this:
    Is there a double tube mouthpiece which allows to play two melodicas at once? Some sort of “Y adapter”?

    #7823
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    In my opinion, the Suzuki Study 32 is one of the easiest standard melodicas on which to bend notes. I believe that the flimsier and more fragile the reeds are, the easier it is to bend (and to damage the reeds, probably). Others may disagree. I’m a fan of the Study 32, and you might be interested to see this: https://melodicaworld.com/forums/topic/melodica-tracheotomy/

    I have seen a couple of videos of Japanese players playing two melodicas at once. One or two might be linked here someplace. I don’t recall what kind of a setup they were using. Pianonymous would probably know. You might go browse around the plumbing section of a Home Depot or hardware store to see what kind of Ys they have. Or search for this on Amazon: Plastic Y Tube Connector Joiner Hose Pipe Fitting. You’d want something that fits into melodica tubing.

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