I know that melody songs can be easily played on a chromatic harmonica. I have horner Chrometta 12 as well as Horner golden melody. However I feel tunes from 10 holes diatonic harmonica are better than that of chromatic. Also note transitions are better in 10 holes diatonic. Also as 10 holes diatonic harmonica are far more smaller, it is easier to hold and can get better wah-wah effect.

From these reasons, I am trying to play melody songs in 10 holes diatonic harmonica. However, I face some problems while playing few notes on the song. I am playing in key of C. Below is the C major scale:


So songs in the key of C may includes the note 'A'. To produce the sound of note A, I need to bend by drawing in the 3rd hole. However, the 'A' sound produce by bending is odd compare to other notes which are produce without bending. I am trying to play the below notes:

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The problem occurs when I play the last note (A).

I am not sure whether this oddness of A note is because of my poor bending technique or is it a problem in my harmonica. I am using Horner Golden Melody (Key of C). Just want to know if melody song can be played properly in 10 hole diatonic harmonica.

Also please share if there is any videos that plays such songs. (i.e. include bending notes while playing melody).

  • It might be a little late, but lee Oskar makes a ‘melody maker’ diatonic with one note changed (I forget which one) that is worth looking at.
    – Colin W
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 14:12
  • @ColinW The Melody Maker changes three notes, not just the one. 3 blow is a full step lower, and 5 and 9 draw are one step higher. A Melody Maker labelled as G (which is "actually" a retuned C... very confusing I know) could indeed play the line in the question without bending. I personally prefer changing only the hole 3 note. The resulting tuning is known as Paddy Richter and is sold by Brendan Power and by Seydel, if you don't want to make the retune yourself (it's not that hard)
    – EdvinW
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 15:33

6 Answers 6


Start by drawing on hole 8 will give you the notes without bending. An octave higher than where you originally want, though. It can also be played on a G harp, starting on hole 6, with a blow. The trouble with the lower holes is there's no 6th note from the scale, so the 7th needs to be bent a whole tone. To make that A). This isn't easy to do exactly in tune, and the tone it makes doesn't match ordinarily produced notes.

  • So do you mean to say that 10 hole diatonic harp cannot play melody songs properly?
    – Angom
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 15:02
  • It rather depends on the range of the tune itself. Within an octave, and sometimes more, the notes are all there. However, if the range includes outside notes that are not available - no. Also some songs will have, for instance, a #4 or a b7 which are also not available to play.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 16:16
  • So will it be a good choice to use Horner Marine Band (12 Hole, Special Tuning)? I heard that it is solo tuned and 1 octave lower. So I believe it will be good for playing melody. What do you suggest?
    – Angom
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 10:41
  • In order to be able to play all notes in any tune, a chromatic harmonica is the best choice. They are available in C and sometimes G, which makes playing in other keys interesting ! They're also more expensive.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 11:21
  • Yes, I have Horner Chrometta 12. It is chromatic harmonica. It has scale changer. But I don't like it as its size is big and it has less bluesy effect. It needs little more pressure (while blow/draw) compare to normal. I don't need to play all keys, only 1 key is enough, but I like to play bluesy as well melody. I think Horner 364 marine band (not 364S) would satisfy my requirement. Anyway, thanks for the answer.
    – Angom
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 11:45

YES. The easy way is on a C/T harmonica with a valve on the 5 hole. This will allow you to play chromatically in the mid range of the diatonic harp. The 5 hole will require a blow bend , giving you a full chromatic scale. If you valve the 2 hole for an additional blow bend you can play whatever you want. Works for me as I am a full time teacher, studio musician, performer.


I think you've got the answer and just need clarification. You could learn to play a convincing A by bending with more practice. You can even learn to bend on the blow notes. And there are also techniques called "overblow" and "overdraw" that give you a lot of range on one reed (or so I've read, I never got past blow bends). As easy as a harmonica is to learn starting out, it can take a lifetime to master. If you do master it, you should be able to play almost any melody that fits in its range with good tone on all the notes.


Yes, you can play all the half notes (black keys on the piano) for the whole range, but as mentioned above, a LOT of practice is needed. I'd guess a couple hundred plus hours of experimenting to get all the notes, now i'm finally getting some convincing quality, but it is very difficult. I wouldn't exactly call it practical yet, but it's a fun challenge.


A diatonic harmonica can play one octave of major scale and one octave of minor scale completely , without the need of bending. So yeah , if you are able to transpose and transcribe on the spot , then you can play almost all the songs on your diatonic harmonica that have notes in a single octave.

  • 1
    This doesn't make sense. Playing a major scale plus its parallel minor would mean only 11 out of 12 total pitches within the octave -- the tritone would be missing.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 20:49

The answer is Yes. The evidence? Howard Levy. The how to? ???

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