© 2005 P. Missin - Details

German Patent 131825

This patent was awarded in 1902 to Robert Field (described in the British equivalent of this patent as a Professor of Music) and Albert Edward Hanson (a Music Dealer) both of Huddersfield, England and covers one of the most unique harmonicas ever made - the Hohner Organola.

The front part of the Organola was a simple 10-hole diatonic harmonica. However, clamped on to the rear of this harmonica was a unit with two additional set of reeds, supplied with air from a swiveling mouthpiece, the notes selected by a set of buttons on each side of the instrument:

The left hand buttons selected bass notes and the right hand buttons selected accompaniment chords. The chords provided were the tonic, dominant, subdominant and supertonic seventh, with their respective bass notes, ie C, G7, F and D7 in the key of C major. The idea was that the player could play the solo harmonica whilst simultaneously blowing or drawing into the mouthpiece to sound the accompaniment. The fact that it was only in production for a very short time and that hardly any of them seem to have been made may suggest that perhaps it didn't work out quite so well in practice as it did in theory. This invention was also covered by British Patent 16550, US Patent 708805, both issued in 1902, as well as Austrian Patent 13499 issued the following year. (Note: Hohner also produced several double reed diatonics with the name Organola that have nothing to do with this instrument.)

The same duo were awarded a later patent, British Patent 253334 issued in 1926, for an improved version of the Organola idea:

Gone was the swiveling air pipe and instead the accompaniment reeds received their air through the main harmonica at the font of the unit:

However, despite also being patented in Germany (German Patent 452419, issued in 1927), it seems that Hohner were not sufficiently impressed by the demand for the original Organola for them to risk commercial production of the improved version.

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