The harmonica is one of the purest, most beautiful instruments in music to me because it’s both simple but stunning. When I hear a harmonica interlude in, say, a Bob Dylan song, I immediately feel that harmonica’s notes settle into my bones and my head starts nodding. It’s like drinking a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows (as I’m also currently doing, I should note!). There’s something about it that just warms me up in that same way. Down there in the bone marrow, like I’m at a hole-in-the-wall poker hall and some jazzy dude is crammed on the stage just wailing away on his harmonica, as if his lungs are about to explode. Mhmm. That’s the stuff. I love other instruments, like the piano, the violin and the harp as well, among others, but there’s something both visceral and ethereal in a weird balance of musical perfection about the harmonica that appeals to me in the strongest possible terms (and like a lot of things that do that, I have a hard articulating the why).
The piece I’m obsessed with and can’t get enough of at the moment is that of Brazilian star Indiara Sfair’s Improvisation in C Minor.
If that doesn’t just hit all the musical buttons in your bones, I would question if you’re not actually a sponge! I joke, but wow, how good is that? I’ve had it on repeat since yesterday and can’t stop listening.
Specifically Sfair is from Curitiba, which is the capital of the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, according to Google. That seems a fitting host for Sfair because the capital seems to be a hub of sorts for culture. Fun fact from Wikipedia: It was the first Brazilian city to have an IMAX. Now that’s worth bragging about!
But back to Sfair.
“I got my first harmonica from a friend when I was fifteen years old. It was a birthday present. He knew I liked blues and musical instruments, so he decided to give me one. He could not guess that he was giving me something far more valuable than a harmonica.”Sfair told harmonica.com.
Sfair seems to take a lot of cues and inspiration from blues, and you can hear that in the aforementioned performance. It’s wonderful.
Or check out this stunning one, Bond, which has an awesome story behind it:
As she wrote in the description, she wrote the track for an indie video game, Frank and Drake, which are a “modern interpretation of Frankenstein and Dracula.” I didn’t know until five minutes ago that I so badly needed the unusual, but perfect melding of the classic monsters of Frankenstein and Dracula with the bluesy blues of a harmonica. Mhmm, that’s good.
The wonderful thing about the harmonica, too, is that it’s not as if Sfair is singing in Portuguese or something else: it’s just music. Air coming into the holes of the harmonica doesn’t have a language. The notes of the harmonica are translatable, and more importantly, felt, across any language, any culture, any country, and any peoples. That’s why her YouTube comments are filled with a smörgåsbord of people from all over the world coming together to enjoy it.
That’s why I love music. Music knows no bounds.
Do you enjoy the harmonica, too? Do you have a favorite piece or interlude?