The melodica, also known as the "blow-organ" or "key-flute", is a free-reed instrument similar to the melodeon and harmonica. It has a musical keyboard on top, and is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece that fits into a hole in the side of the instrument. Pressing a key opens a hole, allowing air to flow through a reed. The keyboard is usually two or three octaves long. Melodicas are small, light, and portable. They are popular in music education, especially in Asia.
The modern form of the instrument was invented by Hohner in the 1950s or 1960s, though some claim the Brooklyn musician Joseph Lederfine invented it to teach music fundamentals to children, and similar instruments have been known in Italy since the 19th century.
The melodica was probably first used as a serious musical instrument by jazz musician Phil Moore Jr. on his 1969 Atlantic Records album Right On. It is associated with Jamaican dub and reggae musician Augustus Pablo who popularized it in the 1970s. 
Types of melodicas
Melodicas are classified primarily by the range of the instrument. Melodicas with different ranges have slightly different shapes.
- Soprano and alto melodicas are higher-pitched and thinner sounding than tenors. Some are designed to be played with both hands at once; the left hand plays the black keys, and the right hand plays the white keys. Others are played like the tenor melodica.
- Tenor melodicas are a lower-pitched type of melodica. The left hand holds a handle on the bottom, and the right hand plays the keyboard. Tenor melodicas can be played with two hands by inserting a tube into the mouthpiece hole and placing the melodica on a flat surface.
- Bass melodicas (lower-pitched than the tenor type) also exist, but are less common than other types.
- The accordina uses the same mechanism, but with accordion-like buttons instead of keys.
Although the majority of melodicas are made of plastic, some are made primarily of wood. The Sound Electra corporation makes the MyLodica, a wooden melodica designed "to produce a warmer richer sound than that of its plastic relatives". The Victoria Accordion company, based in Castelfidardo, Italy, produces a range of wooden melodicas and accordinas they market under the name Vibrandoneon.
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