The harmonica is a free reed wood-wind instrument. Harmonicas have an incredibly rich range of expression, are easy to pick up, since there's no need for fingerings, etc. They play numerous "intervals" (two or more notes), which is difficult or impossible for many other wind instruments. It also works very well in the modern musical setting, where one needs to play most music through an amplifier or loudspeaker. A harmonica player can easily adapt to this by cupping a microphone and his or her harmonica in the hands, without sacrificing any other aspect of playing.

A Chromatic and Diatonic harmonica

Harmonicas are extremely important for Blues music - in order to acquire its unique, soulful sound, a harmonica is needed. Harmonicas cross many genres - the diatonic harmonica is frequently used for rock, country, folk music and Irish jigs; and the chromatic harmonica is often associated with Jazz music, and more recently, Classical music. The tremolo harmonica is often used for Japanese folk songs.

The harmonica is also a very portable instrument. They can fit easily into any reasonably sized jacket pocket, which is very rare for all instruments.

Furthermore, learning the harmonica can improve your breathing, and thus, your health. The constant breathing into and out of a harmonica is substantial exercise for the diaphragm, which is why harmonicas are sometimes used to improve breathing.

Getting Started

Playing the Harmonica

How to form proper hold and embouchure, and discussion on related basic techniques

Additional Techniques

Numerous advanced techniques, including overbend and vibrato

General Harmonica Theory

Cleaning and Maintenance

Appendices and References