Types of Melodica Sound

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    Alan Brinton

    Different melodica brands or models models are sometimes characterized as having a “harmonica” sound, an “accordion” sound, a “clarinet” sound, or even a “flute” sound. Without getting into sound-HyperPhysics, I would like to go beyond the subjective “It seems to me to have an X sound” in making sound comparisons between melodicas and to have a more meaningful rubric of sound types to work with in comparing different melodicas. Such comparisons tend to be made in terms of similarity to a few other familiar instruments, and for practical purposes that may be the best approach — as opposed, for example, to use of existing technical terms or the stipulation of new terms. On the other hand, there are existing technical concepts such as timbre, harmonic content, attack and delay that should be useful in providing further analysis of differences in kinds of sound between different melodicas. I’m a relative ignoramus on such technicalities, but I know there are some here who would be competent to talk about that kind of analysis.

    There are Internet resources, though, for making sound-type comparisons between different instruments, for example between a clarinet sound, a saxophone sound, a harmonica sound, and so on. One way to test our subjective judgment that, for example, a Yamaha P-32D has more of a clarinet sound while a Suzuki M-32C has more of a harmonica sound, is to make comparisons with recorded sound samples for each of these two instruments.

    Here is one site that has some relevant instrument sound samples, including a melodica (though we’re working from the assumption that different melodicas have different kinds of sound!).


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