Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Ideal Combination

One of my favorite blogs is Little Hokum Rag, Amy Crehore's art/ ukulele shrine. That's right- Amy's a wonderful painter and illustrator who also plays and designs ukuleles. I highly recommend her site. Today she posted this picture:

It's a Graf Zeppelin harmonica. A very cursory observation leads me to believe that it has six holes, that the holes on top were used to add additional notes to the scale (like a recorder) and that the sound came through the Zeppelin part. It is made by Seydel, a rival of Hohner that resurfaced fairly recently after the fall of the Berlin wall. (I think Seydel still functioned in East Germany.) Unfortunately they don't make the Graf Zeppelin harmonicas anymore.

Amy included a link and I found more pictures.

This is Hohner's Aeroband Harmonica. It was in circulation from 1909 to 1924. It seems to be a tremolo type with a double set of holes for that "accordion- on- the- banks -of -the- Seine" sound. It probably sounded great in the airship when you stuck your hand out the window. I don't know who the figure is on the harmonica itself- the Kaiser maybe?, but he looks like he plays a mean harp.

Finally, there's this one:

The Los Angeles! I think this is another Seydel, probably made for the American market. The blog gaves the date as 1924. This is essentially a regular diatonic harmonica, ten holes, diatonic scale, like a Marine Band. I think the holes on top might be for what is nowadays called overblowing- that is, extra notes could be achieved, enabling the player to get a chromatic scale. Suzuki makes a harmonica like this now, called the Overdrive.

I can't think of anything more pleasurable than cruising in my personal airship, playing my Los Angeles harmonica, thinking about how great the future turned out. What an ideal combination! Quiet, efficient air travel and a beautifully crafted harp!

Maybe I'm even wearing a hat like the Kaiser there. Who knows?

I've said it here before and by golly, I'll probably say it again, but the future really didn't ever get here, did it? No airships, despite stable gases. When was the last time you saw the Goodyear blimp explode? No invisiblity rays, anti- gravity belts or time machines. No restaurants on the moon, nor even any kind of leisure space travel.

Just stupid video games, unemployment, racial hatred, starvation, natural disasters over which we have no control (where's the weather dome, damn it!), corporate greed, fuel shortages and an antiquated two- party system that is tearing the country apart.

I think I'll sit in my back yard and play my harmonica.


Mike Licht said...

I believe that is a portrait of airship inventor Ferdinand von Zeppelin on the Aeroband harmonica cover.

paul said...

Another amazing, statuesque post!

I would add -- tho' no one's asking -- predator drones to the things we actually have instead of, uh, restaurants on the moon, which I think we probably all wish we DID have.

Amy Crehore said...

Thanks. :)