The Harmonica is one of the oldest styles of wind instrument and is an example of an early type of cello that predates the appearance of the recorder. The Harmonica, sometimes called a French harmonica or a German harmonica, is a flexible free-reed instrument similar to a violin, with a mouthpiece that vibrates in response to the pitch played. The many styles of Harmonica include classical, contemporary, urban, folk, and gothic.
A classic example of a Harmonica is the so-called German Harmonica. This instrument is made in a cello and comes in two variants, the Natural Minor and the Perfect Minor. This instrument was commonly used by Baroque music, which was used mainly for accompaniment. It can be found in print form from texts by Jan M. van der Goes, Hubert Van Gheten, and Hugo van der Goes.
The Natural Minor is a similar instrument to the Harmonica, which is made in the shape of a cello but features a mouthpiece instead. The difference between the Harmonica and the Natural Minor is that the latter has a round body, whereas the former has a square or octagonal body. In this case, the body has four strings. The Harmonica's body shapes tend to have a wider range than those of the harmonicas. For instance, a Harmonica that is made in the shape of a triangle has a five-string bridge, whereas a triangle-shaped harmonica has six strings.
The Harmonica is usually divided into two basic categories: the diaphragm-based harmonicas and the reeds (or tubular) harmonicas. The reeds harmonica is distinguished by having only one treble hole (or so), making it different from the tonal Harmonica, where there are two holes. The use of the reeds in a Harmonica is intended for accompaniment purposes as its single tone gives the accompaniment a much brighter sound than the diaphragm-based Harmonica. However, it also has more limited usage in rock music because its low B note makes it a poor choice for use with the bass notes.
The Harmonica has three standard bodies (C, D, and E), plus a special version called the Special Body, which is used especially for songs written specifically for a Harmonica. There are basically three types of Harmonics: major, minor and flat. Major and minor harmonics go up and down the scale, while flat notes repeat through all notes in the scale. When played as a chord, the major chord of a Harmonica is E minor.
Since there are three standard bodies and six special bodies, there are around sixty variations of Harmonicas. In general, the harp and reeds are used for Classical music, whereas the strings are more commonly used in jazz or blues and modern music. There are some examples of Harmonicas that are popular for their unusual use of the tones they contain. For instance, the English idiomatic harmony song Ode to Self, which uses the diminished chord to make the second half of the refrain, borrows the name from a German work called Die Suchen Nacht der Szen and uses the Spanish word "manana" for the flat note in the second bar.
Some Harmonicas have been made to emulate popular musical instruments and are known as "stomphats. For example, the steel-string Harmonica is shaped like a guitar, and the nylon string harp looks just like an acoustic guitar. Other Harmonicas include the rock/pop hybrid ensemble "Buddy Holly and the Seven Dwarfs", the classical Celtic stringed instrument "Odissi," and the flamenco stringed instrument "Piano Flamago".
In terms of their sound, Harmonicas follow the same tonal conventions as the piano or the violin. The notes of all the Harmonicas are created using exactly the same formula as the notes in the piano (for the diatonic harmonicas) or the violin (for the chromatic harmonicas). That being said, when you play the Harmonica, you will hear notes coming in different keys than if you played a piano or violin. This is because in a Harmonica, all the strings are on one fret, not three or five as in other instruments.