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Instrument: Harmonium

Feb 20, 2023
Harmonium is a musical instrument that belongs to the family of reed organs. It is a small, hand-pumped keyboard instrument that produces sound by blowing air through reeds, which are thin strips of metal, similar to those found in an accordion or a harmonica.

The harmonium is played by pumping a set of bellows with one hand while the other hand plays the keyboard. The player can control the volume of the sound by pumping the bellows harder or softer, and can create a range of different tones by manipulating the stops, which are small knobs that control the airflow through different sets of reeds.

Harmoniums are commonly used in Indian classical music and devotional music, particularly in Hindu, Sikh, and Sufi traditions. They are also used in some styles of folk and popular music in South Asia.

Harmoniums come in a variety of sizes, from small, portable instruments that can be carried by hand, to larger, more elaborate models that are designed for use in concert halls or other large venues. They are often decorated with intricate carvings and colorful designs, making them not only a musical instrument but also a work of art.

Some famous musicians that played the harmonium

There are many famous musicians who have played the harmonium, especially in the context of Indian classical music and devotional music. Here are a few examples:

1. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi - a legendary Hindustani classical vocalist who often accompanied himself on the harmonium during his performances.

2. Ustad Bismillah Khan - a shehnai player who also played the harmonium and incorporated it into his music.

3. Annapurna Devi - a sitar player who also played the harmonium and was known for her unique approach to Indian classical music.

4. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - a Pakistani qawwali singer who often used the harmonium in his performances, blending traditional qawwali music with contemporary influences.

5. Pt. Ravi Shankar - a sitar player who also played the harmonium and incorporated it into some of his compositions.

6. Lata Mangeshkar - a famous Indian playback singer who has also played the harmonium on occasion.

7. John Lennon - The Beatles' song "We Can Work It Out" features a prominent harmonium part played by John Lennon.

8. Pete Townshend - The Who's song "Won't Get Fooled Again" also features a prominent harmonium part played by Pete Townshend.

9. Brian Jones - The Rolling Stones' song "Ruby Tuesday" features a beautiful harmonium part played by Brian Jones.

10. The Kinks - The Kinks' song "Sunny Afternoon" features a distinct harmonium riff played by Ray Davies.

11. Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan's song "Like a Rolling Stone" features a haunting harmonium part played by Al Kooper.

These are just a few examples of the many musicians who have incorporated the harmonium into their music. While the instrument has a particularly strong association with Indian classical music, it has been used in a variety of genres and can add a unique and distinctive sound to a song.