Tremolo Harmonica - Music, Lessons, About

The tremolo harmonica is the most widely played harmonica in the world. It usually has 24 or 21 holes, and is played throughout Asia and parts of Europe.

It sounds like this. The player is Jia-Yi He.

Westerners are more familiar with the 10 hole diatonic harmonica, with players like Rick Estrin making it sound like this.

In China the harmonica is called "kouqin". Ask for one in a music store, you'll get an instrument like the one in the picture.

Learning Tremolo Harmonica

There are many tremolo harmonica instruction books, mostly in Chinese... However, I've wriiten a set of online tremolo harmonica lessons. Try them here.

Tremolo Harmonica Music

The 10 hole diatonic harmonica is mostly used for blues. Like the track above.

Blues is American music, exported widely, but not much to Asia. Most Asian players know little about blues, although they call the 10 hole diatonic harmonica the "blues harmonica". The 10 hole harmonica is not played much in Asia. Tremolo and chromatic harmonicas are far more common.

In Asia, the tremolo harmonica is used for classical music, popular music and folk tunes. Not blues. It is a common school instrument, like the recorder in Western countries. The leading Asian tremolo players are astoundingly good.

More about the Asian harmonica scene is here.

In Europe the tremolo harmonica is used for folk music, Irish in particular. The Murphy family are famous tremolo exponents.

However, for the most part, tremolo harmonica is not well known outside Asia. A shame, it is a great instrument. This site shows why.