A Hohner melodica
Keyboard instrument
Classification Wind; free reed aerophone
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 412.132
( Free-reed aerophone)
Developed 1950s
Playing range
Usually 2 or 3 octaves
Related instruments
accordion, harmonica, pump organ, yu

The melodica, also known as the pianica, blow-organ, key harmonica, or melodyhorn, is a free-reed instrument similar to the pump organ and harmonica. It has a musical keyboard on top, and is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece that fits into a hole in the side of the instrument. Pressing a key opens a hole, allowing air to flow through a reed. The keyboard is usually two or three octaves long. Melodicas are small, light, and portable. They are popular in music education, especially in Asia.

The modern form of the instrument was invented by Hohner in the 1950s, [1] though similar instruments have been known in Italy since the 19th century. [2]

The melodica was first used as a serious musical instrument in the 1960s by composers such as Steve Reich, in his piece titled Melodica (1966). [3] Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal developed a technique consisting of singing while playing the melodica, resulting in a wide tonal and harmonic palette. [4] It is associated with Jamaican dub and reggae musician Augustus Pablo who popularized it in the 1970s. [5] The melodica can often be seen being played by Jon Batiste on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.


Layout of a melodica keyboard with three octaves (36 keys)
Hohner Melodica Soprano: right side, keyboard and bottom views

Melodicas are classified primarily by the range of the instrument. Melodicas with different ranges have slightly different shapes.

  • Soprano and alto melodicas are higher-pitched and thinner sounding than tenors. Some are designed to be played with both hands at once: the left hand plays the black keys, and the right hand plays the white keys. Others are played like the tenor melodica.
  • Tenor melodicas are a lower-pitched type of melodica. The left hand holds a handle on the bottom, and the right hand plays the keyboard. Tenor melodicas can be played with two hands by inserting a tube into the mouthpiece hole and placing the melodica on a flat surface.
  • Bass melodicas also exist, but are less common than other tenor, alto, and soprano.
  • The Accordina, generally made of metal, uses the same mechanism as a traditional melodica. The keyboard is replaced with a button arrangement similar to a chromatic button accordion's keyboard.

Wooden melodicas

Although the majority of melodicas are made of plastic, some are made primarily of wood. The Sound Electra corporation makes the MyLodica, a wooden melodica designed " produce a warmer richer sound than that of its plastic relatives." [6] The Victoria Accordion company in Castelfidardo, Italy, produces a range of wooden melodicas and accordinas that they market under the name Vibrandoneon.

Other Languages
العربية: ميلوديكا
català: Melòdica
Deutsch: Melodica
español: Melódica
Esperanto: Blovklavaro
euskara: Melodiko
فارسی: ملودیکا
français: Mélodica
한국어: 멜로디카
Bahasa Indonesia: Melodika
italiano: Melodica
עברית: מלודיקה
magyar: Melodika
Nederlands: Melodica
norsk: Melodika
português: Escaleta
română: Clavietă
русский: Мелодика
sicilianu: Diamònica
Simple English: Melodica
suomi: Melodika
svenska: Melodika
Türkçe: Melodika
中文: 口風琴