New Gear – Melodica

melodica-ukebrewOkay, I’m pretty excited about this one so… Let me just start by saying “Melodica”? It’s called a Melodica. That name is way too cool. It must have been created in the 60s. We’ve come a long way from instrument names like “Piano” and “Lute”.

The Melodica is a keyboard that’s small enough to be hand held (so also very portable) and is played by blowing into it. The wind moves over reeds to make the sound so it sounds a lot like an accordion.

My current favorite genre of music is what I like to call Sad Electric Cowboy and I think those bands frequently try to layer in extra sadness with long drawn out wailing notes. This is frequently accomplished with fiddle or accordion. 

In my quest to be able to add this sound to my repertoire I’ve tried harmonica and accordion but neither worked out. They both have huge coolness cred but they also have an in and out functionality that is apparently just enough added complexity to push it over the learnability line for me. I didn’t even try fiddle, I assume the logistics and cost make it an unrealistic choice for me but… as I write this and think about it… who knows, maybe if I come across a cheap one someday I’ll give it a shot.

I’ve seen melodicas more and more lately, they seem to be a favorite of the alternative instrument (“toy”?) crowd a lot of whom are uke players, a lot of whom have videos I’ve seen recently. The final straw was a uke cover video I saw for June Hymn a song I was working on for open mic at uke club. I liked the sound and was inspired to buy one.

So far, even with just a little messing around to figure out single finger support notes, I think it really adds something. I think the reeds do bring a hint of sadness (at least) and it pairs well with a uke (often rigidly associated with happiness) especially over minor chords.

I got a Honer Instructor model and it was about 35 bucks online. It sounds great, the single direction blowing works for me and I’m really excited to have this option for adding to songs and to finally have a keyboard to learn music (and music theory) on.


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