The harmonica is a reed wind instrument used most commonly in folk and blues music, but also occasionally in jazz, pop and even classical music.
The most common variety is called a diatonic harmonica, tuned to a single key and often used in blues. You can’t play a bad note on this type and, much as I like Bob Dylan as a songwriter and as an artist, I can’t help thinking he was playing any old thing in his rambling harmonica riffs and solos …
It’s possible to play much more melodic pieces on a chromatic harmonica, as used by Larry Adler in the first video above but, of course, it’s that’s a lot more difficult.
I’m sure I’m not alone in regarding the harmonica (particularly the chromatic) as one of the most plaintiff, expressive instruments in existence. It adds a really haunting quality to any piece.
I don’t play the harmonica but I did use a synthesised harmonica on a recent piece which I called Happy as Larry, as a tribute to the great man. Here it is (be patient because there is a lengthy introduction before the harmonica comes in):
These are the instruments I used:
Harmonica: DX7 synthesiser from Arturia
Bass: Monark from Native Instruments
Vocal synth: Exhale from Output
Piano: Stage-73V from Arturia
Ambient FX: Bioscape from Luftrum
Percussion: Battery from Native Instruments