© 2005 P. Missin - Details

British Patent 974546

Taiwanese native Shin-Hua Ts'ui presented several intriguing circular instruments in his 1964 patent. All of them had a circular body and a mouthpiece which moved along its circumference to select different notes or chords.

The first three versions were based on solo tuning, as used on a typical chromatic, but without sharps or flats. In the first version, the mouthpiece selects four notes from the instrument's four octave range and by standard tongue-blocking technique, the player could play either single notes, or octaves, lifting and replacing the tongue to play rhythmic chording.

The second version had additional reed banks built into the mouthpiece allowing the player to add chords independently of the position of the mouthpiece. The upper reed bank gives the chords C major and F major, the lower reed bank gives the chords C major and G major.

The third version was a somewhat simpler design, the mouthpiece selecting single notes from the instrument's three octave range.

The fourth instrument was designed as a chordal accompaniment instrument and used a different tuning from the previous ones, with two banks of reeds giving the notes D F A C E G B D, with the mouthpiece selecting three notes at a time. With the mouthpiece lined up with the D, F and A reeds, a Dm triad is produced; moving it to the next position gives the notes F A and C to give an F major triad; moving it again gives A, C and E to give an Am triad; moving it again gives C, E and G to give a C major chord; moving to the next position gives E, G and B to play an Em triad; finally, moving it one more time gives G, B and D to give a G major chord.

These inventions were also covered by US Patent 3273440.

In 1969 Ts'ui was granted a second patent for some more complex versions of his circular harmonicas which added a gearing system to move the mouthpiece around the circumference of the instrument, as well as adding more reeds to the accompaniment harmonica to give all 24 major and minor triads.

As well as British Patent 1241114, these later ideas were also covered by US Patent 3619471, German Patent 2021371 and French Patent 2047143.

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