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Diatonic Harmonica

These are available in different keys and tunings.

The C harmonica is used for illustration but for folk music the keys of D, G and A are the most used.

The usual tuning is the Richter tuning and the most commonly sold harmonica is in the key of C Major. It usually has ten holes each having a blow and draw reed.

Diagram of C Major Richter tuned harmonica.

Blow notes:

Diagram of C Major Richter Harmonica Draw notes:


This tuning was invented in the late 1850's. Any blown chord has C, E, and G the chord of C Major.

Draw on holes 1,2 and 3 gives a G chord add 4 for the G7 chord. 5 and 6 will do for F Major,

Draw on 4,5, and 6 gives D minor chord.

There is only one complete major scale: Start on Blow 4 C up to blow 7 C alternating blow and draw except hole 6 to 7 where you draw adjacent 6 then 7 to get A then B.

Originally the harmonica was used to play vamping chords using the tongue to block off the holes not needed, while the melody was played on the middle section octave. It was thought worth while having the 6/7 change in order to keep the C note on 7 as a blow note.

Other Scales can also be played in what are known as different positions.