The melodica, also known as the "pianica", "blow-organ" or "key-flute", is a free-reed instrument similar to the melodion 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, though similar instruments have been known in Italy since the 19th century.

The melodica was first used as a serious musical instrument in the 1960s by composers such as Steve Reich, in his piece titled Melodica (1966) and jazz musician Phil Moore Jr, on his 1969 Atlantic Records album Right On. Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal developed a technique consisting in singing while playing the melodica, resulting in a wide tonal and harmonical palette. It is associated with Jamaican dub and reggae musician Augustus Pablo who popularized it in the 1970s. It was featured on the 1972 #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Oh Girl" by the Chi-Lites. In the 1980s, electronic rock band New Order featured the melodica prominently in songs such as "Truth," "Your Silent Face," "Love Vigilantes" and others. Melodicas have also been used in indie folk music by artists such as Rabbit of Steam Powered Giraffe and Paul Duncan of Warm Ghost and Emmanuel Del Real of Café Tacvba.

Read more about Melodica:  Types of Melodicas, Alternate Names, Comparison With Traditional Woodwind Instruments, Gallery

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