Harmonium Info.

in Harmonium, Info

Harmonium is a keyboard instrument which is similar to a reed organ. It was initially invented in England in 1840 and then it gained popularity all over the world.

It is considered as a bi-cultural instrument since as keyboards have European origin but drones are Indian. Harmonium can either be foot-pumped or hand-pumped both which are available in Europe but in India, only the hand-pumped version is available. That’s why, it is also known as one of the hand-pumped instruments in India.

It is a small sized instrument that can be easily placed on a table and consists of two types of bellows and a keyboard. One hand is used for bellows and other one to play a keyboard. The bellows are external as well as internal. External bellows are played with hands and helps in pushing air inside and internal bellows act as a container of air.

Some of the parts of Harmonium in brief are:

  • keyboard,

  • pumping instrument,

  • bank of brass reeds,

  • stops and drones.

For Detailed view of parts of harmonium, click here.

As we already know that air is pumped inside with the help of bellows which can be accomplished with the help of a keyboard. When a keyboard is pressed, holes are opened and the corresponding reeds help in producing a required sound. Depending upon the requirement, a harmonium may consist of one, two, three or six reed sets. Pitch of the instrument is dependent upon the size of the reeds.

Classical instrumentalist use harmonium with three reed sets whereas one reed set harmonium is used in Qawwali. Some of the other Indian musical styles where harmonium is widely used are: Bhajan, Filmi Music, Folk Music, Ghazal, Geet, Kathak Dance, Kirtan / Dhun, Shabad, Thumri, Kheyal.

Harmoniums hold a great religious significance since it is used by hindus and Sikhs in their devotional music which is evident from a fact that there is no temple or Gurdwara that do not have a harmonium. It is used as a accompaniment with tabla or dholaks.

There are two playing positions commonly used for harmoniums. In first case, harmonium is placed on the floor in front and a player sits on the floor itself. In another case, one end of the harmonium is placed on the lap and other on the floor. Except these two, it can also be played while standing where a harmonium is slung over the neck with a strap.

Some of the renowned harmonium players of india are: Pt. Tulsidas Borkar, Dr. Arawind Thatte, Jayanta Basu, Jyoti Goho, Kishan, Manzoor Hossain, Sanatan Goswami, Sushmita Coondu.

Famous harmonium manufacturers of India are: Bina Enterprises, Chopra Musicals, Raj Musicals, Pakrashi & Co., Jamuna Dass & Sons, Maharaja Musicals etc.

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