What is the Harmonium?
The harmonium is an instrument that has its origins in the period of British rule in India. It is a modified version of the reed organ, with keys like the piano and bellows to pump air into the instrument.
The harmonium is now widely used as an accompaniment in Hindustani vocal music, in religious music across the states of Maharashtra and Punjab- Haryana, and in Qawwali music of the Islamic traditions.
The modified harmonium plays 22 microtones that are used in Indian music but that cannot all be played on a standard harmomium. The modification consists knobs under every note other than the first and the fifth, to be pulled out when a higher microtone is needed.
Listen to the Harmonium
Performer Name Rekesh Chauhan
Where it’s from: Harmonium
Harmonium: Did you know…
The harmonium has its share of critics, who prefer not to use the instrument because of its inability to produce oscillations required in Indian music. The All India Radio had also banned the use of the harmonium by classical artistes between 1940 and 1971. However, doyens like Pt. Bhimsen Joshi used it as their instrument of choice for accompaniment in concerts. Subsequently the harmonium has gained stature.