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The chromatic harmonica lends itself well to being used to play classical solo pieces that would typically be performed on flute or violin. Orchestral harmonicas are also available that enable an ensemble of harmonicas to produce a sonic range more typical of a traditional string quartet.
Country music has a long been a genre where the harmonica features, leading to the creation of a tuning specifically designed for this genre, found on the Country tuned versions of the Hohner Special 20 and Seydel Session Steel. The Melody Maker tuning is also particularly suited to the needs of country tunes, and is available on Lee Oskar and Seydel harmonicas.
Folk music is inextricably linked with the harmonica. The simplicity and portability of the instrument, paired with its ability to be played by one musician whilst also playing chords on a guitar, has led to its use on some of the most popular folk recordings of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Pop has absorbed multifarious musical forms over the years, so it's no surprise that a range of different types of harmonica have been used on famous pop recordings. From the blues influenced sounds of early Rolling Stone songs, to the soul/jazz virtuosity of the great Stevie Wonder, there is a harmonica that will fit with every sub-genre within popular music.
Many early reggae and ska recordings from the likes of Bob Marley and The Wailers and Prince Buster featured harmonica, often played in a blues style. Traditional Richter tuned harps, such as Hohner's Marine Band will work well for blues-influenced riffs, but for more melodic lines, the Melody Maker tuning is the perfect match.
Rock harmonica starts with early British Invasion era bands, such as The Rolling Stones, and continues through the development of the genre into hard rock, being heard on recordings by Led Zeppelin and even Black Sabbath. Get yourself a 10 hole harmonica in Richter tuning, or one of the Wilde tunings for fast riffs, and rock!
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