From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonica:

A harmonica is a free reed wind instrument. Tones or notes are made by blowing air into or drawing air out by placing lips over individual holes (reed chambers) or multiple holes. The pressure caused by blowing or drawing air into the reed chambers causes a reed or multiple reeds to vibrate up and down creating sound. Each chamber has multiple, variable-tuned brass or bronze reeds which are secured at one end and loose on the other end, the loose end vibrates and creates sound. Reeds are pre-tuned to individual tones. Each tone is determined according to the size of reed. Longer reeds make deep, low sounds and short reeds make higher-pitched sounds. On certain types of harmonica the pre-tuned reed can be changed (bending a note) to another note by blowing or drawing air strongly into the chamber. There are many types of harmonicas; Diatonic, Chromatic, Tremolo, Orchestral, Bass (see below), each used for its own specific sound and can be played in many keys and many types of music.

The harmonica is used in blues and American folk music, jazz, classical music, country music, rock and roll, and pop music. Increasingly, the harmonica is finding its place in more electronically generated music, such as dance and hip-hop, as well as funk and acid jazz.

The harmonica has other nicknames, especially in blues music, including: harp, blues harp, mouth organ and blues mouth organ.

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