The harmonium is a hand-pumped instrument operated by one hand compressing bellows in back while the other plays a keyboard in the front. It is almost exclusively used to accompany for vocal music starting in the twentieth century. The early harmoniums in India were heavily criticized at first because of the lack of flexibility in the intonation, which is a hallmark for Indian music. But over time this has been essence because of the harmonium’s low dynamic level. It is used mostly in the Northern area of India as part of the Hindustani musical tradition. Listen to a small sample of this important instrument to Indian culture.
2013 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings