What started off as two guys playing toy instruments in the basement is now an internationally-acclaimed musical duo. Tristan Clarke and Joe Buono became friends while studying music at the Peabody Conservatory, and they have been playing melodica together since May 2016. A melodica is like a cross between a keyboard and a harmonica because you have to blow into it to make the reeds inside vibrate.
Melodica Men play Star Wars Medley
Last summer, the Melodica Men funded their tour of Seattle and Paris by busking in the street. In September 2016, their “Rite of Spring” video went viral and gained over 1.5 million views in one day. In December 2016, they played their solo debut with the Jacksonville Symphony at the Holiday Pops concert series. You can find the Melodica Men on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
Tristan is a graduate of the Juilliard School and plays principal trumpet with the Jacksonville Symphony. Joe has earned two Masters degrees from the Peabody Conservatory and is currently composing and teaching.
Melodica Men on Facebook
About the Melodica
The melodica, also known as the pianica, blow-organ, key harmonica, or melodyhorn, is a free-reed instrument similar to the pump organ 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). Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal developed a technique consisting of singing while playing the melodica, resulting in a wide tonal and harmonic palette. It is associated with Jamaican dub and reggae musician Augustus Pablo who popularized it in the 1970s. The melodica can often be seen being played by Jon Batiste on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.