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Do You Need to Read Music in Order to Play the Harmonica?

Although performers do not need to know how to read sheet music in order to play the harmonica, they should understand harmonica notation. Harmonica notation typically involves numbers to indicate which holes players should use, as well as arrows that tell players when to inhale and exhale in order to produce sounds. Instructional CDs and videos can help harmonica players learn how to produce certain notes, sounds, and effects when learning how to play the instrument.

What Are the Differences Between the Types of Harmonicas?

The three different types of harmonicas include chromatic, diatonic, and tremolo. Designed for use in traditional Bavarian music, diatonic harmonicas have 10 holes that produce a variety of sounds. Chromatic harmonicas feature slide mechanisms that give players the ability to produce additional notes unavailable on the diatonic harmonica without the use of special playing techniques. Tremolo harmonicas have 40 holes that produce sounds similar to those of an accordion.

How Do You Know Which Type of Harmonica Is Best?

To choose a harmonica, players need to consider the type of music they want to produce. Diatonic harmonicas work well for blues, country, or rock music. Those who want to play classical music or jazz should consider a chromatic harmonica. Performers often use tremolo harmonicas for folk music, especially Cajun and African music.

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