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Friday, 29 May 2015


The ancient Chinese invented a small portable musical instrument, the sheng, on which the player blows or sucks to make a thin metal reed vibrate. Such Chinese free-reed wind instruments were first mentioned in writings dating from the 14th–12th centuries BC.

In the eighth century three sheng were sent to the Japanese court and these have been preserved in the Shōsōin imperial repository in Nara.

A sheng brought to Europe in the 1770s created considerable interest, but there is a long gap before harmonicas were being sold in Vienna in 1825. They quickly caught on as a cheap and enjoyable way of making music, and by the 1850s, the harmonica (or mouth organ) was in mass production.

There is a persistent legend that the German musical instrument maker Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann (June 17, 1805 – October 1, 1864) invented the harmonica (and the accordion) but this cannot be substantiated. Buschmann stated in a letter of 1828 that he had just invented a new instrument, but the manufacture of harmonicas had begun some years previously in Vienna.

Chr.Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann

German emigrants took the harmonica to America, where the style of playing changed and the blues harmonica sound emerged.

A bus driver gifted a young John Lennon with a harmonica which he went on to play extensively during his early performances and initial recordings with the Beatles.

American astronaut Walter Schirra was probably the first man to play a musical instrument in space He blew a mean Hohner harmonica on a Gemini mission, which prompted an advert that read: "Buy a Hohner harmonica. Learn to play Jingle Bells and three billion people might just look up to you!"

Here is a list of songs with a harmonica part


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