- Terry E. Miller
A free-reed aerophone typically consisting of a wind-chest penetrated by one or more tubes, each fitted with a Free reed of metal or bamboo. Because of the widespread use of Western free-reed mouth organs, called variously harmonica ( see Harmonica ), French harp and mouth harp, such instruments are known worldwide, but they probably originated in mainland South-east Asia or southern China during prehistoric times. In addition, they are related to other Western free-reed instruments, including the Reed organ (harmonium) and all types of accordions.
Within Asia five kinds of free-reed mouth organs are distributed from Japan to Thailand and from Bangladesh to Borneo. The two best-known types are the Chinese Sheng (Japanese Shō ; Korean Saenghwang ), with a bowl-shaped wind-chest of wood or metal and 17 or more graduated pipes arranged in a circle, and the Lao/north-east Thai Kh□n (khene), with 6, 12, 14, 16 or 18 bamboo pipes arranged in raft form with a carved wooden wind-chest. The Hmong in Laos, northern Thailand, and southern China use a mouth organ with six tubes (...