3. The different designs


3.1. Beginner Models and Melody Instruments


Casting beginner and melody instruments together in one category seems confusing at first. But both do have something in common. They are based on the principle of a core octave. The smallest instruments have a vocal range of 8 notes. For example, HOHNER Little Lady - a miniature instrument or HOHNER Speedy - also with 8 tones, but with normal size. In both, the 8 voices are arranged in 4 channels, so blowing and drawing each in a channel. On the other hand, in the "Hering YARA 9108", blowing and drawing tones are alternately placed next to each other - this is the "preliminary stage" to the Viennese model.

If you place the core octave 2 times next to each other, you get a melody instrument, which is also suitable for getting into the style of playing the chromatic Harmonica. For example the HOHNER Melody Star - with 16 tones. If you line up 3 core octaves, you get the sequence of the HOHNER "Marine Band Soloist" or the "Seydel Solo-Tunings".


3.2. Chromatic harmonicas


The structure of the chromatic harmonica is based on the principle of point 3.1. described melody instruments: The core octave is put together several times. That means: 2 octaves = 8 channels, 3 octaves = 12 channels etc.

To complement the chromaticism, this tone series is now added by adding it again (by one semitone). These tones can be reached via a slider arranged in the mouthpiece.

Chromatics tend to be ventilated to avoid too much air loss due to the double number of reeds per channel, especially in the low voices. (See reeds and valves)


3.3. Viennese models


The structure of these harmonicas is again based on the principle of the core octave. However, here are blowing and drawing tones side by side and in separate channels! Blowing and drawing voices alternate with each other on a Reedplare (as in the already mentioned HERING YARA) Compare to the Richter harmonica, which each has a Reedplate for blowing and drawing notes!

This now makes it possible to use the lower Reedplate for certain "effects": see point 3.3.1. and 3.3.2.

Above or below the core octave, the tuning usually corresponds to the Richter harmonica, so it is (accompanying) harmony-oriented.

Tonbelegung Wiener Stimmung

3.3.1. Tremolo models


The lower Reedplate has exactly the same tone sequence as the upper one. However, her reeds are intentionally not exactly the same tuning, but slightly differ in their pitch. When playing a single note, two reeds sound simultaneously. In harmony, there are frequency overlays and an imaginary 3rd tone, the tremolo effect arises. On average, the number of oscillations of the floating sound is 3 to 4 per second.

3.3.3. Halbwiener


Bei der sogenannten Halbwiener fehlt die untere Stimmplatte völlig, oder sie wird nicht mit Stimmzungen versehen (Blindplatte).


3.3.2. Octave models


As with the tremolo harmonica, the lower part of the voice plate has the same tone sequence as the upper one, but is here completely one octave higher, in some models also one octave lower tuned. So here too, two reeds sound at the same time when a single note is played. Since these two reeds are exactly one octave apart, they merge into one big tone.

Akkorde G-Dur Mundharmonika

3.3.4. Wender and Kreuzwender


In a Wender harmonica there are two, tuned in fifths, harmonicas opposite each other in a housing. So you can skilfully compensate for the lack of accompanying harmonies by turning quickly while playing. Let's take a closer look at this fact:

We play e.g. a G major tremolo harmonica.

For the sake of clarity, I have used the illustration of a Richter Harmonica, because here the blowing- (red) and drawing-reeds (black) can be seen separately.


picture 3

It becomes clear that only the tonic (G major) and the dominant (D 7) are available for accompaniment. The subdominant C major is missing. If we now use a Wender in the key C / G, we can also play the subdominant C major. Wender harmonicas are usually available in the tunings C / G, D / A, Bb / F (HOHNER) Hering is available also the model "Vencedora" in A / E A more extensive variant is the Kreuzwender. Several single-mouth harmonicas are mounted between two cross-shaped or star-shaped sheets with holding pegs. Hohner has a 6-fold model in its range. Hering offers a 4-way and a 6-way model.


3.4. Knittlinger models


Actually, it could also be assigned to the octave harmonicas. The Body is double-channeled. Blowing and drawing tones alternate on a reed plate. The tone sequence is the same as in Richter and Viennese models. But a peculiarity distinguishes them from the Viennese models: The vertical bars between each blow and pull tongue are missing! So each two reeds are next to each other in a channel.

This construction principle, originating from the former company Hotz from Knittlingen, is only used in very few harmonicas. It was found in Hohner's "Auto Valve Harp", which is no longer produced, and in the "Marine Band Oktav". The valves reduce the loss of air.

The Klingenthaler company Seydel still builds the "Concerto". In this harmonica, the deep octave is located below and the high above. The tuning is not quite the Richter tuning identical (shift by one channel). More on that later in the overview of the tunings.


3.5. Richter Harmonicas (Blues Harps)


A certain Mr. Josef Richter from Bohemia established this tone sequence around 1875. The peculiarity in the construction of this harmonica is that the Body is not transversely divided. Thus, in each case a blowing and a pulling reed share a channel. Over time, this led to some "discoveries" that even the inventor, the good Mr. Richter, certainly would not have dreamed of.

By arranging the voices, it is possible, given a certain manipulation of the air flow, to bend the notes or even play the same curved tones. Almost unbelievable: one is able to play notes that are not present as a reed on the harmonica, i.

with only 20 basic reeds can be generated 37 tones. You can not do that with any other harmonica model!

(see Bending and Overblow / Overdraw)

Of course, these techniques had to evolve over time. The best conditions for this were given about 100 years ago in the USA. There, the blues began to develop as a musical expression of the black population. The blues have a relatively simple harmonic structure. But he lives for the constant reinterpretation of existing motifs and improvisation. The peculiar fascination of the blues is mainly triggered by the "blue notes". The Richter harmonica was the best way of achieving this expression. Besides, it was affordable for everyone.

As already mentioned, the articulation of the Bendings or Howler depends on a certain change in the air flow, the tongue position and the conditions of the mouth and throat. Since the circumstances are a little different for each player, there is plenty of room for individuality here. See Cross Harp Game and Bending


3.5.1 Special models of the Richter Harmonica - Special Tunings - Innovations SBS - Steve Baker Special


The SBS "Steve Baker Special" model is based on the standard 10-channel Richter Harp, but its harmony octave is extended downwards:

The harp channels 1 to 3 are doubled one octave lower and at the top end they are supplemented by one channel - with the note H and Blaston E. Country tuning


Country tuning (name at HOHNER) or Melody Maker (at TOMBO)

Here, the tuning has been changed compared to the "normal" Richter tuning. Namely the draw sound in the 5th channel has been increased by one semitone.

Why? Let's take a closer look at the graphic (left: Richterstimmung - right Country):


Picture 4

Akkorde Country Tuning

When we play g-major Richter Harp Crosses, D is the tonic and G is the subdominant. The dominant A is (unfortunately) only available in minor.

If we increase the tone C in the 5th channel to C #, we have A major as the dominant. However, our Tonic now becomes a major-seventh chord. In the blues rather unusual, but with this offer new sound possibilities in the direction of jazz or Latin.

Another side effect is worth mentioning: because we have now received a large second as an interval in the 5th channel, the drawing tone C # can be lowered to C!

Watch out! The Lee Oskar "Melody Maker" from TOMBO still has another "surprise" ready. In addition, the blowing note in the third channel is increased by one whole tone. Minor Tunings (Richter Harmonicas)


Blues harps in minor tunings are offered by just about all manufacturers. In the main, two different sound assignments are distinguished:


Natural minor

Harmonic minor Paddy Richter tuning


These harmonicas distinguish only a single tone from a major-tuned Richter harmonica.

The 3rd channel is increased by one whole step and thus offers the following advantages:

On a C major harp, blowing the first 3 channels from the C major chord simultaneously will result in an A minor chord

You can play the scale of the parallel minor key from the 3rd channel without bends

The core octave in major still remains. Chromatic Koch and Slide Harp


These harmonicas form the link between Richter and Chromatik harmonica. Both are built on the principle of the Chromatic, but are tuned like Richter Harps. However, "real" chromatic playing is not possible - the notes F (in the 2nd) A and Bb (in the 3rd) and H (in the 10th channel) may or may not be played. These possibilities also have their advantages, in addition certain sequences of notes can be moved chromatically.

The Chromatic Koch is not ventilated. The slide harp is half-ventilated, which makes it easier to bend.


3.6. Orchestra and ensemble models


3.6.1. Bass harmonicas


No matter if you play in an harmonica orchestra, duo or trio - the bass harmonica provides the foundation in the interplay of several harmonicas. The bass harmonica consists of two superimposed Bodys. The arrangement of the voices is based on the keyboard of the piano. Increased or decreased tones (corresponding to the black keys) are located in the upper body of the cell, and the "normal" (corresponding to white keys) in the lower body. Since there are more white than black keys, channels would still be available in the upper body. In these places, however, again tones are housed - namely "F" and "H" from the diatonic sequence. The bass harmonica is also tuned in two parts (at octave intervals).

HOHNER offers 2 models: one with 58 and the other with 78 votes.


3.6.2. Chord harmonicas


For harmonic accompaniment in the harmonica orchestra or ensemble, the chord harmonica was constructed. HOHNER has the most impressive instrument in its program: the M 26701 - an instrument with 384 voices !! That's 48 chords (major, minor, sept, over, diminished) in octave tuning.

Also by HOHNER is the "Vineta" - intended for smaller occupations. Very limited in the range of harmony, it offers F major, C major, G major and C 7, G 7, D 7.

At minor, diminished and augmented you have to get along without her.

Further informations will follow!