A harmonica is small musical instrument that is played with the mouth by blowing into holes in its side. Harmonicas are cheap and easy to play. Harmonicas produce their musical sounds from the vibrations of reeds in the harmonica's metal case. Harmonicas are used in blues music, folk music, rock and roll music, and pop music. A special type of harmonica, the chromatic harmonica, is used in jazz and classical music. Harmonicas are made in several different keys: G, A♭, A, B♭, B, C, D♭, D, E♭, E, F, and F♯. Each key can play a different range of notes.

How they are played

Harmonicas are played by blowing or sucking air into one side. On this side, there are many holes. Each hole has a different note. Different notes are played when you blow or suck air.

Harmonica players

  • Bob Dylan is a famous harmonica player from the 1960s folk rock scene.
  • Willi Burger is a famous classical harmonica player.eez
  • Neil Young is a folk/grunge musician who plays the harmonica.
  • Steven Tyler, from Aerosmith, plays the harmonica.
  • Little Walter, one of the most well known blues harmonica players ever.
  • Yvonnick Prene is a groundbreaking jazz harmonica player.

Other Harmonica players

*Bluesharp players

  • Billy Boy Arnold
  • DeFord Bailey
  • Steve Baker
  • Carey Bell
  • Billy Bizor
  • Blind Percy
  • Billy Branch
  • Buster Brown
  • George Buford
  • Norton Buffalo
  • Eddie „Guitar“ Burns
  • Lester Butler
  • Paul Butterfield
  • Joe Carter
  • William Clarke
  • Jaybird Coleman
  • Jim Conway
  • James Cotton
  • Cyril Davies
  • Lester Davenport
  • Paul deLay
  • Carlos del Junco
  • Rick Estrin
  • Frank Frost
  • Billy Gibson
  • Jazz Gillum
  • Alan Glen
  • Tony Glover
  • Dennis Gruenling
  • Adam Gussow
  • Slim Harpo
  • Shakey Jake Harris
  • Big Walter Horton aka Shakey Horton
  • Howlin’ Wolf
  • Mark Hummel
  • Paul Jones
  • Paul Lamb
  • Lazy Lester
  • Little Walter
  • Louisiana Red
  • Lee McBee
  • Jerry "Boogie" McCain
  • John Mayall
  • Jean-Jacques Milteau
  • Mike Morgan
  • Sam Myers
  • Charlie Musselwhite
  • Hammie Nixon
  • Darrell Nulisch
  • Paul Oscher
  • Lee Oskar
  • Rod Piazza
  • John Popper
  • Jerry Portnoy
  • Gary Primich
  • Snooky Pryor
  • Annie Raines
  • Jimmy Reed
  • Jason Ricci
  • Curtis Salgado
  • Richard „Magic Dick“ Salwitz
  • Mikael Santana
  • Ronnie Shellist
  • Matthew Skoller
  • George „Harmonica“ Smith
  • Willie "Big Eyes" Smith
  • Little Mack Simmons
  • Sonny Terry
  • Jazz
  • Larry Adler
  • Matthias Broede
  • Jens Bunge
  • Hermine Deurloo
  • Maurício Einhorn
  • Adam Glasser
  • Howard Levy
  • Hendrik Meurkens
  • Richard Oesterreicher
  • Toots Thielemans

Types of harmonicas

Another type of harmonica is the chromatic harmonica. More songs can be played on it than a regular harmonica, because chromatic harmonicas can play more different notes. Chromatic harmonicas have a button which moves a sliding bar. By pressing the button, the player can play a larger range of notes.

Pfister Ernst Harmonika 08 2004
German minister Ernst Pfister playing the smallest harmonica in the world

Different names

The harmonica is called many different names, such as: mouth organ, mouth harp, Hobo Harp, French harp, Reckless Tram, harpoon, tin sandwich, blues harp, Mississippi saxophone, or simply harp.


Harmonica for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.