Lee Oskar Invites Musicians of All Kinds to Explore the Versatility of Altered Tuning Harmonicas at Winter NAMM 2020!

Legendary harmonica expert explains how the instrument can help breathe new creativity and ease into the songwriting and performing processes.

The harmonica is one of the easiest instruments to start playing, and harmonica virtuoso and recording artist Lee Oskar strives to make the power of the harmonica even more accessible and useful for the musical masses. As part of that mission, Lee Oskar Harmonicas will demo its full line of innovative harmonicas at NAMM 2020 at booth #6310, showing musicians how they can quickly and easily use harmonicas to craft melodies for every style of music from reggae and hip hop to jazz and tango.

“The harmonica is designed for the musically hopeless, which is exactly how I started out,” Oskar said. “However, until very recently the instrument was designed to play only the major diatonic scale, relegating the harmonica’s use to specific genres such as folk and blues, and leading musicians to reuse the same scale and key over and over.”

Lee Oskar’s innovative lines of ‘altered tuning’ harmonicas allow musicians and singer-songwriters to quickly and easily add a harmonica to their compositions or use them to experiment with different scales, no matter the genre, and without any advanced techniques or long learning process.

“It’s the only instrument that makes music just by breathing into it,” Oskar explained. “If, for instance, a guitar player knows a bit about music theory and wants a bandmate to overlay a melody, using a harmonica in the matching key makes it effortless, even if the bandmate doesn’t know theory or chord progressions at all. It also allows experimentation to get outside of a familiar key or scale, which can be a problem for musicians who are comfortable composing with specific chord progressions and find it hard to introduce different themes. And of course, guitarists and many other instrumentalists can enhance their music by easily incorporating harmonica into their musical expression using a harmonica holder (neck rack).”

Lee Oskar Harmonicas has created a wealth of educational materials to help musicians quickly add a harmonica to their performances, including recommendations for which scale to use for different genres and chord charts that relate guitar chords to harmonica keys and positions.

“We want everyone from beginners to professional touring acts to experience how harmonica can benefit their songwriting and performances,” Oskar said. “For me, the most important aspect of modern music is the melody. For music to really be memorable and stand on its own without lyrics, the melody must be strong. That can mean introducing unusual chords or notes that make it stand out, and with harmonica it’s simple to test out lots of different notes quickly without having to learn all sorts of theory and positions.”

Designed specifically to fit a modern variety of musical styles, Lee Oskar’s exclusive Melody Maker™ line is the best harmonica for playing single-note melodies and makes it easier to play songs that require advanced techniques on traditional harmonicas. The brand currently offers harmonicas in all 18 Major Diatonic keys (for playing Folk, Country, Blues, Rock and Pop), including four recently introduced lower key harmonicas; 12 Natural Minor keys (for playing Minor Blues, Reggae, Ska, Latin, Funk, R & B, Hop Hop); 12 Harmonic Minor keys (for playing Eastern European, Gypsy, Yiddish, Asian, Tango, Reggae), and five keys of Melody Maker models (for R&B, country, reggae, pop and even Irish music, with five new keys coming out soon).

“A harmonica plays you, not the other way around,” Oskar continued. “Because it creates sound when breathing both in and out, it’s an extremely natural-feeling experience. If any budding or professional musician is skeptical of a harmonica’s value, it’s up to us as instrument makers and sellers to explain how powerful this little handheld instrument is, and how it can benefit a player’s musical evolution. From Mick Jagger’s rock to Beck’s folk to Moses Concas’ harmonica beatboxing, which helped him win Italia’s Got Talent, the harmonica shines in any genre.”

Lee Oskar Harmonicas are available through KMC Music, the industry-leading, value-added distributors of musical instruments, pro audio gear and related accessories.