The Harmonium in North Indian Music

The Harmonium in North Indian Music

Product ID: 29738

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Author: Birgit Abels
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass
Year: 2010
Language: English
Pages: 154
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788178223094


The harmonium holds an ambiguous reputation in India as well as in its "home continent" of Europe. There is an abundance of clear statements made by distinguished Indian musicians, theoreticians and also politicians who time and again would decry the instrument. Rabindranath Tagore's famous description of the harmonium as "that bane of Indian music" is just one example.

And yet, the harmonium is arguably the instrument most widely used for accompanying the foremost medium of North Indian classical music, i.e. the human voice. Thus, by all appearances the anxiety about the harmonium's potentially destructive impingement on traditional music, is not shared by the majority of the musicians.

This book seeks to understand the complex history of the harmonium in North India, analyse the apparent conflict between musical theory and practice and describe how the instrument is used in musical practice. Is the harmonium an instrument suitable for Indian music? Can it live up to the requirements of Indian music? Can it live up to the requirements of Indian music? These questions pervade the whole book, at the end of which, they will appear in a whole new light.


List of Illustrations

1. Introduction
2. History of the Harmonium in India
II. 1. Early history until 1884
II.1.1. The Cultural-Historical Context
II.1.2. The Spatial Context
II.1.3. The Spreading of the Harmonium
II.2. After 1884 – The ‘Indian’ Harmonium Excursion – Harmon flute
II.3. For and against the Harmonium – Public Opinion
II.3.1. The discussion until 1940 A.H. Fox Strangways Margaret Cousins Ernest Clements
II.3.2. After 1940 – The A.I.R. ban
3. The Instrument
III.1. Tuning
III.1.1. Measurements, tuning, intonation
III.1.2. Timbre – Excursion: Volume
4. Musical Use
IV.1. The Harmonium as also instrument – Direct Comparison – Harmonium solo, vocal solo
IV.2. The harmonium accompanying vocals
IV.2.1. Ornaments
IV.2.1.a Gamaka
IV.2.1.b Andolan
IV.2.1.c Mind
Iv.2.1.d Other techniques
Non-tempered intervals Excursus – Multi-pitch sounds and chords
Varied bellows pressure
IV.2.2. The relationship between vocal soloist and harmonium accompanist
V. The Future