Musical Instruments of India. This image is copyrighted 2003 Batishs. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Harmoniums, Baja, Harmonium Video Tutor
Harmonium Learning Books

by Ashwin Batish

BRHM6S Harmonium Image via Mid-East. This image is copyright 2003 Batish Institute. Unauthorized copying or displaying on another site is strictly prohibited
The Harmonium is one of India's most popular instruments. Its origins are associated with the Western influx into India probably back in the 15th century (if my dates are correct). It entered India via the Christian missionaries. They frequently would carry a pedal organ to do their religious singing accompaniments. Indian musicians were quick to latch on to this instruments ruggedness, the fact that it came pre tuned, and the ease of note production by pressing keys. They also must have found themselves uneasy sitting on chairs to play it. So the Indian instrument makers adapted it to the floor model by removing the pedals, creating a rear air pumping unit making the size and number of keys smaller and that was the birth of the Indian version of the Harmonium. Unlike its Western predesessor, which is played with both hands, the Indian Harmonium is played only with one hand. The other one is kept busy pumping the air.

In India, the usage of this instrument has been focused as an accompaniment instrument to vocalists. My father, Pandit Shiv Dayal Batish, whose career as a North Indian classical and film vocalist spans over 60 years remembers this instruments popularity even back in the 30's. Over the years, although this instrument remains popular, there has also stuck with it a stigma of intonation inadequacy.

As its Western design provided a permanently tuned instrument to the masses it's inherent lack of re tunability and it's standard equal temperament tuning structure makes it unpleasing to many that prefer to adjust their notes to the Indian musical intonation system that follows closely the "Just Intonation" system of tuning. Thus, the classical community of India often frowns on this instrument's usage in the classical field where purity of note is considered to be essential in creating the proper "Rasa" or emotional state. There have been past attempts to design and sell Harmonium tuned to the just intonation system but they never gained popularity.

In the recent years there have also been some Harmonium designs that have 3 sets of reeds per note giving a very rich tone. The Harmonum tuners are also known to vary the note pitch between each reed set per note to a slightly different pitch. The result is to give a mean or average pitch value to the overall note produced by that reed set thus making the note sound more in tune overall. This slight variation within the reeds gives the Harmonium timbre a shimmering effect that sounds very cool.

If one was to live with these tuning inadequacies, the harmonium really can be a lot of fun. It's quick access to all possible notes in the octave make it a favorite for popular singing styles such as, qawalli, Keertan, Bhajans, Filmi music, and solo instrumental playing.

In the hands of a master Harmonium player as my father, this can become a monster solo instrument. My father's finger's are so fast his gamak production so amazing that one forgets its limitations in producing glissandos.

All images and description are authored and copyright 2003 by Ashwin Batish and S.D. Batish. All rights reserved. Please do not copy, embed in another document, or display on another site. You are welcome to link to this page.

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( BRHM6S ) Harmonium, Standard
4 drones (top pulls) and 4 stops (lower pulls) to direct the air over the upper or lower reeds. Fixed keyboard, integral bellows, and dozens of sound combinations. Made in India
Shipping Weight: 30.00 lbs.

Only:
$525.00

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( BRHMDC ) Harmonium, deluxe, fixed
5 drones and 4 stops provide dozens of combinations of sounds. Fixed keyboard and integral bellows. Made in India
Shipping Weight: 30.00 lbs.

Only:
$799.00

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( BRHMMC ) Harmonium, Deluxe
6 drones and 5 stops, play different banks of reeds. Mechanical coupler (plays 2 octaves with one stroke). Fixed keyboard, integral bellows, and dozens of sound combinations. Made in India
Shipping Weight: 30.00 lbs.

Only:
$625.00

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( BRHMM3 ) Harmonium, 3 Sets of Reeds and Coupler
Mechanical coupler (plays 2 octaves with one stroke). 3 sets of reeds, fixed keyboard, integral bellows, and dozens of sound combinations. Made in India
Shipping Weight: 30.00 lbs.

Only:
$780.00

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( BRHMTS ) Harmonium, Traveler, Standard
Keyboard pops up for play, store in locked-down position for travel. Fixed keyboard. Integral bellows, dozens of sound combinations. Made in India
Shipping Weight: 30.00 lbs.

Only:
$320.00

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( BRHMTD ) Harmonium, Traveler, Deluxe
5 drones and 4 stops. Keyboard pops up for play, store in locked-down position for travel. Fixed keyboard. Integral bellows, dozens of sound combinations. Made in India
Shipping Weight: 34.00 lbs.

Only:
$580.00

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( BRHMSC ) Harmonium, Scale Changer, Fixed
Deluxe, 5 drones and 4 stops. Mechanical coupler (plays 2 octaves with one stroke). Keyboard slides to change scale. Integral bellows, dozens of sound combinations. Made in India
Shipping Weight: 31.00 lbs.

Only:
$900.00

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( BRHMSD ) Harmonium, Scale Changer, Folding
Deluxe, 5 drones and 4 stops. Keyboard pops up, store in locked-down position for travel. Mechanical coupler (plays 2 octaves with one stroke). Keyboard slides to change scale. Integral bellows, dozens of sound combinations. Made in India
Shipping Weight: 37.00 lbs.

Only:
$900.00

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( BRLIHR ) Learn to Play On Harmonium
By Ram Avtar 'Vir'. Includes handling of instrument, movement of fingers, use of bellows, rhythm, speed, and time, exercises, songs, and more, 63 pages. Made in India
Shipping Weight: 0.50 lbs.

Only:
$15.00

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( BRV5 ) Harmonium Tutor Video #1 Introduction to Harmonium
By Pandit Shiv Dayal Batish and Ashwin Batish. VHS. Made in USA. (Program duration 55 minutes) ISBN 1-882319-52-4
Available in DVD-NTSC, VHS-NTSC or VHS-PAL
Shipping Weight: 1.00 lbs.

Only:
$49.95

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