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How is my Hohner Chordomonica tuned?

In the late 1960s Hohner marketed two instruments designed by the late Cham-Ber Huang, the Chordomonica I and the Chordomonica II, designed to play melodies with full chordal accompaniment.

(From Hohner USA's 1968/69 catalog - used with permission)

Chordomonica I

The Chordomonica I was essentially a retuned 10-hole chromatic harmonica, with some of the chromatic tones sacrificed in order to give appropriate harmonies. With the slide in the 'out' position, blowing gives a C major chord and drawing gives a G7:

With the slide in, blowing gives an F major chord and drawing gives an F# diminished 7th chord:


Chordomonica II

The Chordomonica II had 12 holes and also gave the C major and G7 chords with the slide out:

Not surprisingly, it also gave the F major chord and F# diminished 7th chord with the slide in:

However, the Chordomonica II was also equipped with a second slide which selected notes from both the upper and lower reedplates of the harmonica to give the additional chords of A minor and D minor 7th:


As well as the key of C, both models were also available in the keys of E, F, G and A. Here is a chart of the chords produced by each key of instrument:


Both models were discontinued by Hohner some time in the early 1980s, although they still occasionally turn up for sale in places like eBay, sadly, not always in great condition. If you have some decent retuning skills, converting a standard chromatic to the Chordomonica layout is not too difficult. Alternatively, Seydel offer a 12-hole harmonica tuned like the Chordomonica, the Chromatic Deluxe Chor.

Cham-Ber Huang wrote an instruction manual for these instruments, but this is long out of print. However, there is an arrangement of "Bury Me Beneath the Willow" for the Chordomonica I in the book "Folk and Blues Harmonica" by George Heaps-Nelson and Barbara Koehler (a beautifully illustrated book, which also contains lots of other useful stuff for beginners and intermediate diatonic players - click here for more details from Amazon.com).


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