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Learn How to Play a Harmonium

How to Learn to Play Harmonium: Harmonium has carved a niche for itself in Indian classical music. Although the harmonium was invented in Europe, it was soon adopted due to its adaptability to Indian classical music.

How to Play Harmonium

The flow of air in the harmonium produces vibrations, which gives rise to vocals. In the harmonium, feet and hands are used for air pumping. Bellows are used in most of the harmoniums in our country, in which the air flows by continuously moving the bellows back and forth by hand.

Both types of harmoniums arrived in India in the 19th century from Europe, but a chair or some other furniture was required to operate the pedals of the foot-winding harmonium which was not in line with Indian classical music, as a result hand-held harmonium. Driven harmonium became the trend that remains to this day.

First let’s understand some basic things related to harmonium and then move on.

What are the Bellows in Harmonium?

Bellows is the most important instrument of harmonium; it is made up of cardboard and leather.

Each harmonium has two bellows –

  1. External Bellows – During continuous pumping by hand, it enters the air through the valve and sends it to the Internal Bellows. It has five or more valves on the back side.
  2. Internal Bellows – Internal Bellows stores the air and it releases the air towards the Reeds Board where it reaches the Keys through the Stops and the sound as a result of pressing the Keys are generated. The internal bellows is located in the inner part of the harmonium; it is not visible from outside.

What are Harmonium Notes (Keys) or Swaras?

Keys are called “key or Swaras” in Hindi. Keys is produced by pressing it on the harmonium. They are white and black in colour. Whom we call the seven notes of music –

Sa (Shadaj), Re (Rishabh), Ga (Gandhara), Ma (Madhyama), Pa (Pancham), Dha (Dhaivat), Ni (Nishad) which means “Sa, Re, Ga, Me. Known as “P, Dh, Ni” .

Who is The Octave?

The group of the above seven Keys is called the Saptak. There are three octaves in the harmonium – “Mandra, Madhya and Tara Saptak” and consisting of these three octaves, there is a keyboard of harmonium. Singers or players mostly use ‘middle octave’ while playing the harmonium.

There are seven white and five black keys in an octave of harmonium.

Pure, soft and loud voice in harmonium

  • Shuddha Swar – Generally the seven notes of music – “Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dh, Ni” are called Shuddha Swar.
  • Komal Swar – In simple language, the black keys of the harmonium are called Komal Swar. The frequency of soft vowels is slightly lower than that of pure vowels.
  • Sharp Vowel – Only “M” vowel is louder in all the seven suras or swaras . Sharp vowels produce a slightly louder sound than pure vowels.

What are the requirements for playing harmonium?

Music is considered a gift from God. If you work hard then any work becomes successful. Exactly the same thing applies here because you can’t learn to play harmonium in an hour, a day or a month and let’s say a whole year unless you prove that you have to learn to play the harmonium. For this you have to do some hard work. Harmonium is very easy to learn but difficult to play. You must have seen many people playing the harmonium, when other people can play, why can’t you?

I’m not that proficient, but as far as I know, there are two main ways to learn harmonium. First by practicing, and second with the help of sargam i.e. notation.

That is to say that if you learn to play harmonium by practicing voice and rhythm, then you can play any song, whereas if you do not work hard, then you will not be able to play any song on harmonium. You will be able to play the same song whose notation you remember.

How to learn harmonium

Along with raga and swara-alankar, notes also play a very important role in the practice of harmonium.
Let us go through both the above mentioned methods in detail.

1. Learning to Play The Harmonium by Practicing and Mastering The Notes

For those who want to learn new harmonium, it is necessary that they should keep their voice on the harmonium like chanting Omkar (Om) continuously. You must have seen many harmonium players doing this. Like practicing “A…a…aaa…a……a…” in descending and descending order. You can also sing as song with harmonium If you cannot able to remind the song lyrics then search of that lyrics on Google or you can go to which is one of my favorite lyrics website.

When there is no difference between your voice and the sound of harmonium, then the practice becomes successful.

For practice, you should practice the vowel ornaments in the order of ascending and descending on the seven notes of all the octaves of the harmonium. And same times try to play the notes (sargam) of some songs or hymns.

Gradually, when you will master the notes, that is, when your hand will sit on the harmonium, then you will be able to play any song with your eyes closed. It is very easy, practice keeping the will in mind.

Note: – By putting a dot below the Mandra vowels, they are called Mandra and by putting a dot above the vowels of Tara Saptak they are shown as Tara Saptak.

Mounts and Ornaments

Paddhi nisam (ascension) in sa regaga
gresa (descending) in samnidhipa

Practice all the swaras in the order of ascending and descending and below are some ornaments, try to play them on the harmonium by meditating on the voice, all this will not happen in a day, so practice it daily. You will find many ornaments by searching the internet, as well as watching videos on YouTube can also be very beneficial.

Take a look at some examples of ornaments –

  1. Sasa Rere Gag Mam Papdhi Nini Sans.
    Sansa ni ni dhi dh pap mam gag rere sasa.
  2. Sareg, Regam, Gamp, Mapadha, Padhani, Dhanisa.
    Sannidh, Nidhap, Dhapam, Pamag, Magare, Garesa.
  3. Saresareg, Regaregam, Gamagampa, Mpampadha, Padhapadhani, Dhanidhanisa.
    Sannisannidha, Nidhanidhap, Dhapadhapam, Pampamag, Magamagare, Garegaresa.
  4. SaregSaregSareSagaresa, Regmaregamreregare, Gampagmpgampamg, Mipimpimpimpimpimpam, Panipinipathipanidhip, DhanisandhaniSandhaniSandhan, Nissarenisanresansanirsansanand, Sarengansanrensansangansan.

2. Learning Harmonium Through Notation

A simple way to play a song on a harmonium is to memorize the gamut of that song. The gamut of most songs is available on the internet; you can find Harmonium Notes of your favorite song by searching.

Let’s understand Sargam with the example of National Anthem below –

Rashtrgan- “Jana Gana Mana” the harmonium notes are as follows –

Jana Gana Mana leader Jai Hey
all cc cc cc Ggg reggae in

c cc Ray Rere Kni Resa

“many cc you rotate the harmonium You have to press the white key(s) then “gag gag re resa”.

Try playing these notes on the harmonium and see how the first two lines of the national anthem come out.

If you do not have the harmonium your Smartphone in Piano or Harmonium download from the app store can all these exercises.

How to learn to play Harmonium

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