I have not written anything on our blog or the store for some time now, but this does not hurt anyone, even us :). While we are sitting and waiting for better weather to take the Thorong La Pass (5460m) in Nepal, this article was born -- which I had been thinking of writing for awhile but the stars could not find the right position...
Hare Krsna !!!
Today I would like to touch on the theme of harmoniums: how to choose the right one and the different types there are. I’ve been living in Mayapur since 2014 helping devotees purchase quality instruments– about 200 harmoniums have passed through our store.
So let’s start perhaps with the question of what harmonium you are looking for… You should think about where it will be used. Will it be for the temple? Will it be for your home or will you carry it with you on harinam? This is important to understand to choose one that is suitable for it’s purpose.
Body and shape of the harmonium:
The body of harmoniums are different and can be divided into 3 simple groups: a suitcase, box and harinam.
This is an excellent harmonium. It can folded into the shape of a suitcase making it portable. They can be made of different quality, with a scale changer and/or coplar system or without (later I’ll explain what that means). Slightly smaller or larger … These are universal and are good for playing both chords and notes.
The disadvantages here are that the more complex the design, the greater the probability of breakage. If you buy such a harmonium for particular persons to use or programs- then it will last you a long time. If many different people play it, changing the levers constantly- then by year 2, or even after 1, it will be finished. In Mayapur, the harmonium in the main temple was damaged after 1 year, because it was used by everyone.
In these harmoniums you can put 2 or 3 rows of any type of reeds (English, German, French, Indian) but the best for sound quality is Indian or English reeds.
These harmoniums have all the same characteristics as the suitcase, but they do not fold. They are less compact but more reliable.
We advise buying such harmoniums in temples for everyone because there are few moving parts and it is difficult to break them. Such harmoniums are used in the 24 hour kirtan in Vrndavana and Mayapur. They can be equipped with adjusting levers. However, it is best not to do this because in the majority of these harmoniums nobody uses them anyway. In general, a great option if you do not need to carry it all the time. Can be made with a cover for keys or without.
In such harmoniums you can put 2 or 3 rows of any types of reeds (English, German, French, Indian). Sound will be excellent with English, German and high-quality Indian reeds.
The format of these harmoniums were designed by Aindra Prabhu.
These harmoniums are an excellent option for walking harinams with 2 rows of reeds and 3 rows of reeds are better for sitting harinams (due to weight).
They can be loud and do not need to be amplified with microphones. They can also be quiet for home use.
When buying a harinam harmonium it is worth noting that with 2 rows of reeds it will not be very conducive to play chords because the air will be missed by pressing 3 notes and you will have to shake the air out a lot. It is more simple with 3 rows because there will be more volume of air. However, these harmoniums are best played classically using notes rather than chords.
In these harmoniums you can put 2 or 3 rows of any type of reeds. (English, German, French, Indian) Sound will be excellent with English, German, French and high-quality Indian reeds.
And now we’ll figure out the different systems that can be installed on harmoniums.
The name comes from the English word couple (pair). As you can understand – by pressing one key another will automatically be pressed simultaneously. Usually it’s an octave lower than the one being pressed, adding bass. Sounds interesting and good. In some ways even the inability to play harmonium becomes refined.. You can turn it on and off.
Here the trick is that you can move all the keys 2 notes (4 semitones) up or 2 notes down. This is useful if you sing a melody on some keys or chords and do not want to shift it higher or lower (in music this is called transposing). You just move the keyboard and play as if you normally would.
Is it useful if you get sick? … ? Yeah, it’s not .. singing is not very good when you’re sick .. but still .. someone is in ecstasy from such and as they say, to each his own. ? Probably, let’s say it’s a useful trick .. although it’s best to practice a little and then be able to play your tunes in different scales and not use such crutches here. Because, not all temples have such systems, and if you are accustomed to moving the keyboard a little lower then you might not be able to sing the melody without the help of the scale changer. But this is my personal, imperfect opinion.
Systems are good, but again for personal preference … If harmoniums are played by many different people then there is a chance that they will break quickly.
That’s all … If you have any questions then leave comments. And if there are doubts in choosing a harmonium then write to us directly and we will help you deal with this.
Next time we’ll talk about what harmoniums are sold in Indian stores, why you should order a harmonium from people who know this and the type of reeds inside.