The melodica, also known as the "blow-organ" or "key-flute", is a free-reed instrument similar to the melodeon and harmonica. It has a musical keyboard on top, and is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece that fits into a hole in the side of the instrument. Pressing a key opens a hole, allowing air to flow through a reed. The keyboard is usually two or three octaves long. Melodicas are small, light, and portable. They are popular in music education, especially in Asia.
The modern form of the instrument was invented by Hohner in the 1950s or[vague] 1960s, though some[who?] claim the Brooklyn musician Joseph Lederfine invented it to teach music fundamentals to children, and similar instruments have been known in Italy since the 19th century.
The melodica started being used as a serious musical instrument in the 1960s, by composers such as Steve Reich, in his piece titled Melodica (1966)and jazz musician Phil Moore Jr, on his 1969 Atlantic Records album Right On. It is associated with Jamaican dub and reggae musician Augustus Pablo who popularized it in the 1970s. Melodicas have been used in indie folk music by artists such as Paul Duncan of Warm Ghost and Emmanuel Del Real of Café Tacvba.