The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46882   Message #697143
Posted By: Bob Bolton
23-Apr-02 - 11:49 PM
Thread Name: A Harmonica History Question
Subject: RE: A Harminica History Question
G'day Stephen & Wincing Devil,

The Mouth Organ (we need to be clear about terms, since harmonica means 'accordion' to most European language groups) was one of a group of free-reed instruments developed, more or less independently, in Germany, France, England and Austria ... after the Europeans had time to study the free-reeds at the heart of shengs and similar instruments brought back by the Jesuits expelled from China (~ 1780s).

The 1820s saw the first: Mouth organs (European), accordions and concertinas. The subsequent 3 decades saw all sorts of elaborations to the Harmonium (via the Melophone), the beginnings of the piano accordion and the Chromatica (European chromatic button accordion) and the German elebration of their accordion-based concertina into the Bandoneon and the Chemnitzer.

Some people think it might have been better all round if the Chinese had put up with the Jesuits for a few more decades ... but ...

(And I have no idea of whether Nyn Kwya scored or not ... but since we have the sheng ... ie it wasn't chopped up and burned with its inventor ... after he had been pulled into 4 nasty lumps by draught bullocks ... we may assume he did!)

((Even thought the Chinese do tend to play it a funerals - they associate it with the phoenix and resurrection, apparently.))


Bob Bolton