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A funny looking instrument: the Melodica

Reggae | Tuesday 15th October 2013 | Noam

Wind Piano, Pianica, blow-organ, key-flute or the Hohner trademark name: Melodica is a fascinating free-reed/wind instrument. A mix between a piano and a harmonica, it’s played by pressing the keys and blowing into the tube or the top.

The keyboard can be 2 or 3 octaves long which sort of limits the range of sounds the Melodica can produce, but the fact that it’s free-reed instrument means that you can create sound effects that are impossible on a regular piano.

Unknown in the mainstream world of music, it is more than frequently used in reggae and dub. Its distinctive sound can be very mellow and perhaps spiritually heightening with the sort of highs it reaches.

Originally used as a kid’s apprenticeship tool learn how to play the piano, it fell into the hands of Augustus Pablo who turned it into a mighty instrument, which was soon to be played across virtually every 21st century dub track.

Augustus Pablo started playing the melodica on his dub tunes, becoming the pioneer and expert of this ‘toy’. He never let go of the little piano, giving it a future in reggae music and ultimately making it a must for spiritual/meditation dub as well as heavy steppas.

I bought one of these a few months back. It is truly a great instrument. Probably the best aspect of it is that you can acoustically add echo, tremolo or whichever blowing technique you can come up with to your melody. In the meantime, you can discover/rediscover this musical instrument by listening to some Augustus Pablo. Big Up! 

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