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a musical instrument composed of freely moving metal reeds that are set vibrating by air sucked or blown through the mouth. It was invented in 1821 by F. Buschmann in Berlin,
Harmonica types are subdivided into those based on the diatonic and chromatic scales, including solo and orchestral types (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass) and those made up of chords and bass chords; there are also harmonicas with distinct national features. The most widespread types of harmonicas are those based on the Richter and Knittlingen systems. The Richter harmonica is based on the diatonic scale and is most commonly constructed in the keys of C major, G major, F major, and A minor. It produces a different timbre depending on whether air is inhaled or exhaled through the mouth. On the Richter harmonica, it is possible to play only 20 pitches, encompassing three incomplete octaves. The harmonica based on the Knittlingen system is similar to the Richter except that each note is produced in octaves of two or three.
Another type, the Viennese harmonica, differs in its greater range, tremolo effect, and overall sense of an “overflow” of sound. A number of keyboard harmonicas also exist: a flute-harmonica, similar to a clarinet in appearance; an ac-corden, an instrument with prepared chords for accompaniment; a melodica with a keyboard like a piano’s; and a har-monetta, also used for chord accompaniment.
The harmonica is used in many countries in school, student, and military ensembles and for solo performances.
REFERENCEMirek, A. Spravochnik po garmonikam. Moscow, 1968.
A. M. MIREK