INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Harmonium Forum: Playing Positions


Author Message
Playing Positions Jul 07, 2001 03:53 p.m.

I was reading this info on site and found it helpful:

it says: There are two common sitting positions, a standard position and one used by qawwali singers. The
standard position is simple. One simply places the harmonium on the ground. The right hand plays the keys
while the left hand pumps the bellows. This is the most common position used in India today. There is also a
position used by qawwali singers and folk musicians. For this position one end of the harmonium rests on the
ground while the other end rest partially in the lap. Both positions are illustrated in the above pictures.

The position is reversed for left handed musicians. In such cases the right hand pumps the bellows while
the left hand plays the melody.

The harmonium may also be played standing and walking. In this case the harmonium is slung by a strap
around the neck. This however, seems to be limited to beggars that one may occasionally encounter.

I had only seen the Harmonium played sitting flat on the ground or on a pedestal in front of the player. The way i have been playing was to have the instrument sitting flat in front of me while i would be siting on both of my legs beneath on the ground. Then when my legs became numb i would go to a simple crosslegged position and play with the instrument directly in front.

So i tried lifting one end up onto my leg, and this has given me several revelations at once. First, getting the bottom of the instrument off the floor enables it to vibrate freely and the sound becomes incredibly resonant and free. It sounds like a whole different instrument and the bass tones sound more clear. Secondly, the sound holes are aimed more forward and it gives greater projection towards the audience. Thirdly, with the bottom more in contact with my leg and the upper corner touching my solarpexus the vibrations fill my body and i become totally one with the instrument, the connection is complete....

This has been a great discovery, i had always only seen the Harmonium played in the conventional way before, but i am sold on this way.... it's a great step to more centered and ecstatic playing......thanks for listening


Re:Playing Positions Jul 09, 2001 01:24 a.m.

Hi Richard,

I also play the harmonium, and never heard about this position of holding one part of the instrument on the lap. However, what you write about feeling its vibration and thus becoming one with the instrument sounds great. I will try. Thanks for sharing with us such a useful experience.


Re:Playing Positions Jul 09, 2001 06:52 p.m.

Hi Sita,

Thank you for your presence on the Harmonium forum. I enjoyed reading your intro and it is very nice to meet someone who is also having this good experience playing. I'm glad you are trying playing in this position as such i hope you find it as great as i have. What i've found through my experience now is that playing always in one position can get very tiring and that having some other options is very valuable as well as refreshing to the body and mind. An example is when i sit on one side the sound is heard more by one ear, and if the instrument is in the center you hear it more with both ears, the sound is just different to me, i'm not sure how it is across the room. But there is no best way, there are just different ways and it is good to explore. Take care....

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