Tremolo Harmonica for 10 Hole Diatonic Players

If you're here, then you may be a 10 hole diatonic player thinking about trying the tremolo. Give it a go. Here's how.

Most 10 hole diatonic players who try a tremolo do so only briefly, before giving up. It is a different instrument, needing different technique. A lighter breath pressure will help, playing blow or draw notes only.

Get the feel of the two notes sounding together.

Comparing the Notes

The easiest way forward is to identify similarities between the 10 hole diatonic and the tremolo. They seem very different, in fact they are not.

The breakthrough (at least for me) was to think of 1st position 10 hole diatonic playing, then relate it to the tremolo. If you're not familiar with "1st position" playing, that is, playing in the same key as the instrument, then review it by playing some simple tunes using holes 4 to 7 on the 10 hole.

Now let's compare the notes. Look at holes 4 to 10 on the 10 hole diatonic. Here they are, for a 10 hole in C. The top row is the blow notes, the bottom row the draw notes.


Now consider the same set of holes for the tremolo. Again the top row shows the blow holes, the bottom row the draw ones. For simplicity, some of the notes have been left out. Each empty hole on the diagram has the same note as the hole above (or below).

C   E   G   C   E   G   C  
  D   F   A   B   D   F   A

Notice anything? The notes are laid out the same. So, playing the tremolo is like playing the 10 hole diatonic in first position. Any 1st position tunes you know should transfer easily (more or less) to the tremolo.

Of course, there are challenges. The position for each draw note varies between the low, middle and high octaves (or, the bottom third, the middle thrid and the top third of the tremolo). This takes a while to get used to.

The other conceptual challenge is to get your head around the tremolo sound. It's different to the 10 hole diatonic, more like an accordion. It took me a while to like the tremolo sound, now I like it a lot.

Try it out. The tremolo may become your thing.