MIDI harmonica

TO: internet:harp-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

There are at least two MIDI harmonicas out there. One, the
Millionizer, is developed by Walt Mueller in Switzerland, and the
other by Ron Schille in San Bruno, California.

Schille's invention was featured about three years ago in
Harmonica Happenings - this is what Chris Michalek is referring
to. At that time he had a twelve-hole chromatic-style design, but
he's since gone to a 10-hole diatonic design that can bend notes
more than an octave.

Design aside, all he had built when I spoke with him about a year
ago was a 4-hole prototype. Lee Oskar and Eddie Gordon were
supposed to be clients-in-waiting. He said he would send or show
me a videotape of it being played, but I haven't heard from him
since then. Worth a followup.

Eddie Gordon in Fresno, who sometimes gigs in a harmonica trio on
chord with Lee Oskar on lead diatonic and Danny Wilson on bass,
also has Mueller's Millionizer, and demonstrates it at harmonica
festivals. I haven't seen it.

Some of the discussion here, about whether a MIDI harp could
reproduce what a harmonica does, misses the point.

Any MIDI instrument - harmonica, guitar, keyboard, saxophone - is
nothing but a user interface, like a mouse or a touchscreen. It's
just a way of controlling a computer.

We accept this more readily with a keyboard because so many
instruments over time have been controlled with this interface -
plucked strings (harpsichord, clavichord), hammered strings
(piano), reeds, pipes and other wind device (organ) and so on.
But we tend to lose sight of this when talking about such a vocal
(and intimate) instrument as the harmonica.

Rather than discuss whether a MIDI instrument can mimic what we
like about the harmonica (it can't, plain and simple - We already
have the real harmonica, so why imitate it?), we should be asking
what kind of possibilties are offered in controlling a computer
with a harmonica interface and playing techniques. What
advantages does it offer that differ from a keyboard or other

When we start answering these questions, we'll have something

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