Harmonica history

The harmonica is a wind instrument which lived through out ages and known many modifications, before becoming the instrument that we know today.

The first form of the harmonica that existed, known under the name of sheng, was invented in China, 3000 years before Jesus-Christ.

Then, has since been a push forward : in 1821, German Friedrich L.Buschmann searched a more simple way to tune pianos. Eurêka, he took inspiration from the small instrument, modernized it and named it "Aura". 

It’s in 1826 that the diatonic appeared. An instrument maker created drawing notes. He named his instrument « mund harmonika » that means « mouth organ ». At this time, harmonica wasn’t considerated as a musical instrument, but like a jewel. Women wore Diamonds jewellery around the neck, as men wore their harmonicas by hand.

Finally, in 1827 the watchmaker Matthias HOHNER very inspired by this musical jewel, decided to improve it. However the harmonicas of this years didn’t have any esthetism in comparaison with the ones we know nowadays. It actually took until 1857 before the company Hohner was built and that the development of the instruments be exported in the US.

Nowadays, harmonica is seen as the traveller’s instrument. It is the top-selling instrument in the whole world and the most accessible in its learning.

The players have often got  many harmonicas. Each harmonica is tuned in a given key, it’s why they have to got many instruments to may open in a large repertoire. More over many Alternate tunings are possible  to still offer more possibilities to the musicians.

In the origins, the harmonica stuck with the American musical culture (folk, blues country, jazz, and much more). However, thanks to the modernization of the instrument, the musical register is updating and getting younger, for the pleasure of the harmonica players, thus meet more opportunities and audiences.