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ANALYSIS OF A TIME by Joaquín Juanals  

Since 1940, and mainly in the years 1952 at the 1962, were the basic decade in the expansion and diffusion of the harmonica. There were several factors that contribute it. In this accelerated chronicle it would highlight the following thing, although maybe it was not the most important:  

- Movie "Always in my heart." 

- Performance of the group of Borrah Minevich in Barcelona. 

- The Akord´s won the world championships Winthertur 1955, Luxemburg 1957 and Pavia (Italy) 1960. 

- Dionisio Chiappo (representative of Hohner) impels the diffusion of the brand and the instrument. 

- Creation of the harmonic club Barcelona, presided by Don Francisco Latorre. 

- First national harmonica championships.

- Publication of the Latorre method book.  

Surely an analysis but exhaustive it would find bigger number of references or significant that the exposed ones, even when these mentioned already constitute some enough starting points to configure a time in which the youth tries to channel her personal and musical restlessness through an instrument of relatively low purchasing, power that enjoy great popularity. This quick popularization and sense of easiness in the instrumental domain, it has been one of the big handicaps that has ballasted their projection like musical instrument of more span.

The excursionist's image or the Boy-Scout playing the harmonica, it condemned to this great instrument to the condition of simple toy at the mercy of the brief musical expansion around the fire of the one camped juvenile. The cinema, great difusor of fashions, neither it has guessed right to capture a better reality of that exposed reiterating the clichés to the use without solution of continuity.  

Our country is receptive to the great impact that produced the movie "Always in my heart" and starting from that moment, they wake up great numbers of "vocations" that fasten in the schools of adolescents and teenagers, in those that the following day of kings is heard in the school of the harmonic several recess (generally diatonics) that have formed part of the magic-juvenile "crop" of the date.  That is the cultivation broth of which an entire generation that have found leaves and used the harmonica as form of expression of a time hardly marked by many lacks because of a postwar period overcome.  

The Harmonica Club Barcelona with their wandering one to stroll for several different headquarters, it tries to contain and cohesionar this whole incipient movement, although at the end it died drowned by the circumstances and the different tendencies inside the own organization.  

Francisco Latorre as president and person to which the time and the distance enlarge their figure, an enthusiastic difusor that made its work encomiable in double version were without a doubt: to be founded and to preside over the first harmonic club of Spain and create the first harmonica method book with calculated and tablature system. Almost the whole mentioned generation learned the rudiments of the instrument through the method and the scores "Latorre".  

The Akkord´s was the first group from Spain that won a world championship of harmonica in the year 1955. it won it in Winterthur, place that very few know at least to locate it in the map. They returned as winners and with the aureole characteristic of somebody that has achieved a heroic geste without paragon. This single fact is capable for if alone of making flourish vocations everywhere. The Akkord´s come out in the NO-DO, they act in the radio and TV, Federico Rooster bearer of the program stellar TUESDAYS PHILIPS hires the Akkord´s beside the Greek one and artists of first magnitude.  They made tours for different cities from Spain and they become cult characters, imitated by an entire generation that you go in them the mirror where to reflect their illusions.  The Akkord´s believed school, they found a magazine, believe the Secondary school of the harmonica, they gave concerts, they were interviewed in the newspapers of more diffusion, etc.  

Dionisio Chiappo (representative of Hohner) it moved the threads with great master using this whole favorable current to the diffusion and for sale of harmonicas, without saving means. Their enormous managerial spirit makes him see that supporting any initiative of the incipient figures of the instrument, it achieved to half term a wide sedimentation of the demand.  

The Akkord´s phenomenon was accused and it marks a tendency that they appeared groups and groups everywhere to image and likeness so much. Akkord´s believed a style and also a repertoire that ad nauseam will "be adapted" by all the groups of the time with scarce exceptions. Although the main focus is Catalonia and Barcelona, good groups arise in Valencia and Madrid. There were some outstanding soloists: José Belart, Jorge Odena, Ramón Bounced, Ángel MŞ García, etc. 

 

Coming from the old Bascópulos (De Riu, Nart and Cuesta) the Mundarmonik´s were born. This group become the antithesis of the Akkord´s immediately. In fact, an alternative that marked deep differences with the dominant style arises (Akkord´s). Mundarmonik´s (Antonin García and Clemente to the one that it takes him Juanals it would substitute) they played modern music with arrangements (De Riu) of Jazz and they offered a comedian that supplements his musical performance number. 

 

The competition, Mundarmonik´s has arisen they had more attraction than Akkord´s, their shows were more commercial and the pblic liked much more until  those that they didn't like the harmonica.  

It is obvious that the postures were radicalized and the hates become inflamed. Akkord´s was beginning to decline - in fact they never guessed right to evolve - and Mundarmonik´s offered an appeased image and chord with the new musical tendencies. A factor of great transcendency will contribute notably to increase their projection like artistic attraction. The television, the comicality of Mundarmonik´s has been born and thousand spectators enjoyed with this potent means of diffusion. In fact the last performance of this trio, it was in a stellar program 'Friends of Monday' that Franz Joham presented from Barcelona. 

In spite of everything, the harmonica as instrument began to be moved for other fashions and other likes. The university groups had arisen, and with them the electric guitars and the songs. The golden era of the harmonica was playing to the end. The Italian melodists and the English music invaded the radio stations and the stellar programs of television. The VOICES displaced to the instrumentalists and the emergent figures of the song from Modugno of Italy and Paul Anka in America, they imposed their new aesthetics on a hungry society of new idols. And in a new way of to 'feel' the music in a way but direct. It was born the Rock and the electronic music. What could make the harmonica with so many open fronts? Practically nothing...

To be made sleepy in a nostalgic corner evoking splendid past with the hope of resurging that - somehow - this beginning again with other different formations: the Blues and the small electrified diatonic harmonicas were heard from the hand of the Pop music groups again. Beatles, Steve Wonder and other many, they have seen in this instrument a new expression way that contributes a wealth sound inside the current orchestrations. The harmonica has been born again! Will it be able to be secured as an instrument but? or it will continue on the contrary relegated to the simple melodic repetition between two verses of a Pop song.  

For not having, the harmonica didn't have at least some social relevance. Somebody plays the guitar, the piano or the clarinet and immediately they acquires relevance inside their environment. If instead of the guitar, who plays the harmonica, that same environment ignored it with contempt, at the time that expressed their strangeness, in those circumstances the normal thing is that young people prefer to cultivate other forms of musical expression of but recognition and of much smaller effort. Because, do you know a thing, dear reader? the harmonica is an instrument of enormous difficulty, mechanics and some lacks timbrics that require of a very special technique to obtain modulations of pleasant harmonica. It is necessary to play by "lung", practice many hours,  transport tonalities and practice dialy. Is there somebody that were willing to so much, for so little recognition and so doubtful professional exit?. 

 

Used with the consent and permission of the author Joaquin Fuster

 

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