The origins of the Harmonica
The story of the birth of the harmonica
First used for tuning organs?
There are various accounts of who invented the harmonica. One candidate is Christian Friedrich Buschmann, an instrument maker from Berlin.
In 1821, when Buschmann was 16 years old, he created a flute with an iron reed for tuning organs, and he apparently showed off his invention wherever he went by playing melodies on it. It is said that various people tried their hand at altering the structure of this flute, which gradually took the form of today's harmonica.
Many names in Japan
The harmonica was first imported to Japan from Germany in 1896. At the time, it was referred to as a "Western transverse flute." Later, the instrument was known by such names as the "mouth organ" and the "mouth harp." Around 1900, the modern term, "harmonica" gained currency.
Actually, when German people say the word "Harmonica," they apparently could be referring either what they call a harmonica in Japan or an accordion. The accordion, which produces sound by pushing and pulling air through bellows, is another type of reed instrument.
The butterfly brand crosses the sea
In 1914, Nippon Gakki Co. Ltd., the forerunner to Yamaha Corporation, began producing harmonicas with a trademark butterfly logo. The company immediately began exporting these instruments overseas, and they began to gain popularity around the world. Production later ceased, but resumed in October 1945. Thereafter Yamaha stopped using the butterfly logo, but Yamaha harmonica had brought joy to people with their beautiful tones and solid construction.
* Yamaha has now discontinued production of harmonicas.