Harmoniums

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Trilo
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Harmoniums

Post by Trilo » Mon May 11, 2020 9:02 am

I’m looking to get a harmonium this summer. Budget is $600-$900. I know very little about them. I’ve always loved the sound of harmoniums and have a vision of me playing one on my front porch during sunset.

Any advice? Brands/models to look for?

Any info would be appreciated!

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by scottmoon » Mon May 11, 2020 9:32 am

I'm not sure where you're located but this store carries Harmoniums. https://larkinthemorning.com/search?typ ... =harmonium
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Re: Harmoniums

Post by hinterlands303 » Mon May 11, 2020 9:43 am

The space I manage has a Bengali music school that practices every weekend and has regular concerts. They’re not holding classes right now because of COVID-19 but I’d be happy to ask the director if he has any recommendations. I’ll also look at what models we have at the space - I’m pretty sure the ones we have are of the student variety but they still sound really nice. Side note - I’ve gotten pretty good at miking harmoniums and tablas from all of the concerts - not a skill I ever imagined I’d have.

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by Innerself2007 » Mon May 11, 2020 9:51 am

I don't own a Harmonium but I always buy Sitar strings from
http://www.raincitymusic.com/harmonium. ... harmoniums

They are always helpful to me and I always hear good reviews of this store. Worth a look

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by Trilo » Thu May 14, 2020 6:04 pm

Thanks for the website recommendations. I'm not near Berkeley to visit Lark in the Morning unfortunately. Seems like a cool shop!

Rain City Music has a great selection of indian instruments and it seems they have a lot of experience too.The model 509 Deluxe is at a good price.

I've also come across Old Delhi Music and like how they also set up and tune each harmonium before shipping. The brands/models they carry are a bit more expensive than the Swaranjali harmoniums offered by Rain City Music but they still have a few in my price range.
hinterlands303 wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 9:43 am
...I’d be happy to ask the director if he has any recommendations. I’ll also look at what models we have at the space - I’m pretty sure the ones we have are of the student variety but they still sound really nice.
I'd appreciate that. Thanks!

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by tweakfilter » Thu May 14, 2020 8:50 pm

You have a good tutorial here - https://olddelhimusic.com/blogs/indian- ... ce-for-you

First, people advice a harmonium based if they are Delhi or Calcutta made. I was adviced 2 years ago a Delhi made harmonium cause it was more versatile, for a western style of playing, notes and with chords. Also they got much more sustain compared to Calcutta that is used for Indian classical music.

But in my opinion this Indian region dichotomy Delhi vs Calcutta does not make a lot of sense. Indian harmonium is maybe the most absurd thing which ever happened to Indian music. Harmonium is from Europe who used it for accompanying some church songs. Indian music is based on completely different principles than temperedfixed tones: subtle microchanges, ethereal phrases etc. that makes the "soul" of a raga. The harmonium reminds the sound of accordion. And playing harmonium notes/scales together with a singer full of delicate slides and microtones, does not sound good.

So my advice is to look for the specs - weight, construction quality, folding system, reeds, keys octave range, additional couplers....
In the last 2 years I sometimes play harmonium with my band (genre is rock and a little of folk). The harmonium brand is RAGA - Italian brand, not very well known but a friend advice it to me.
In terms of specs its has 3,5 octave,an octave coupler (makes the the sound very rich); and air folds are easy to control. It simply rocks - the construction its well made, easy transportable to rehearsal. Its easy to control the dynamics. It has a drone couplers but I don't use it so much.
hinterlands303 wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 9:43 am
... Side note - I’ve gotten pretty good at miking harmoniums and tablas from all of the concerts - not a skill I ever imagined I’d have.
And in studio environment can you advice how to proper position?
I did use sm58 and if I get too close, I will have the sound of fingers hitting keys . Can be totally overwhelming, especially if I play fast.
In long distance 1-2 meter I did not capture all the harmonics of it.

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by MindMachine » Sat May 16, 2020 8:04 pm

FS: Pedals and Euro modules, Delta Labs
viewtopic.php?f=74&t=233636&p=3287718&h ... e#p3287718
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Annwn
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Re: Harmoniums

Post by Annwn » Sat May 16, 2020 8:37 pm

There is always the 22 Shruti harmonium which attempts to resolve the constraints of the equal-tempered western harmonium. Could be a lot of fun! But probably at the top end of what most people would be comfortable paying for a harmonium.

http://www.22shruti.com/22shrutiharmonium_order.asp

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by electricanada » Sat May 16, 2020 9:03 pm

Trilo wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 9:02 am
I’m looking to get a harmonium this summer. Budget is $600-$900. I know very little about them. I’ve always loved the sound of harmoniums and have a vision of me playing one on my front porch during sunset.

Any advice? Brands/models to look for?

Any info would be appreciated!
Talk to Lars at Rain City Music. Also look at Musicians Mall in CA. These are the top two importers of Indian instruments in the US. Lars is a first rate guy and trustworthy. I would not order from India or eBay or Amazon. Too much risk of getting ripped off.
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Re: Harmoniums

Post by electricanada » Sat May 16, 2020 9:05 pm

Annwn wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 8:37 pm
There is always the 22 Shruti harmonium which attempts to resolve the constraints of the equal-tempered western harmonium. Could be a lot of fun! But probably at the top end of what most people would be comfortable paying for a harmonium.

http://www.22shruti.com/22shrutiharmonium_order.asp
Indian music moved away from the 22-Shruti system a thousand years ago. Just get a regular harmonium and tune to just intonation, and accept that some notes will be off due to the nature of the beast.
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Re: Harmoniums

Post by Severed head » Sat May 16, 2020 9:10 pm

Trilo wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 9:02 am
I’ve always loved the sound of harmoniums and have a vision of me playing one on my front porch during sunset
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Re: Harmoniums

Post by Trilo » Sun May 17, 2020 7:10 pm

Thanks again for the replies and suggestions.

Just ordered a Swaranjali 828S from Lars. Ended up being below the lower end of my budget. After my order he is down to only 4 harmoniums left in stock. Due to the lockdowns in India it might be quite a while before he gets more. So if anyone is contemplating a harmonium, jump on it!

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by Ears » Mon May 18, 2020 9:11 am

I’m curious if anyone knows what kind Nico used on her albums and concerts. She very much made it her own whatever the case.

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by plainofjars » Mon May 18, 2020 12:16 pm

Looking here too Trilo. Trying to find something a bit richer and more complex sounding than the run-of-the-mill instruments.

Lots of harmonium on those first few xiu xiu records (which are excellent)! Though Jamie's Harmonium sounds pretty run-of-the-mill.

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by plainofjars » Mon May 18, 2020 12:16 pm

Edit: double post

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by Trilo » Mon May 18, 2020 5:04 pm

Ears wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 9:11 am
I’m curious if anyone knows what kind Nico used on her albums and concerts. She very much made it her own whatever the case.
Not sure which one she used but Janitor of Lunacy is definitely a big inspiration song for me wanting a harmonium. I love Desertshore!

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by Trilo » Mon May 18, 2020 5:07 pm

plainofjars wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 12:16 pm
Looking here too Trilo. Trying to find something a bit richer and more complex sounding than the run-of-the-mill instruments.

Lots of harmonium on those first few xiu xiu records (which are excellent)! Though Jamie's Harmonium sounds pretty run-of-the-mill.
I love Xiu Xiu especially the early albums. Saw him play live solo in someone’s kitchen around that time but he was playing guitar.

Don’t know of any more unique harmonium. Would have loved to have gotten one where the coupler adds an octave below. The coupler on the one I’m getting adds a note up.

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by plainofjars » Mon May 18, 2020 6:03 pm

Oh cool—yeah those first three albums are brilliant.

What harmonium did you end up getting? What else led you to choose it?

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by commodorejohn » Mon May 18, 2020 6:42 pm

...Shouldn't the plural be "Harmonia?"
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Re: Harmoniums

Post by Trilo » Mon May 18, 2020 7:27 pm

plainofjars wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 6:03 pm
What harmonium did you end up getting? What else led you to choose it?
I got the Swaranjali 828S its a standard model. I didn't want a portable/collapsable model as I wouldn't be traveling with it. I've read that standard models have less moving parts and are slightly more reliable with less of a chance of air leaks. I was also impressed with the wide range of Indian instruments on the Rain City Music site and it was recommended in this thread. When I contacted them, they only had 5 harmoniums available and only 2 standard models, both 828S. The one I got had a glass jali vs wood jali which I thought looked cool. Also the price was great... $525 compared to $800+ for some standard models I saw on other sites. Also didn't want to get one on Ebay or Amazon because I wanted someone deeply familiar with the instruments to tune and set-up the harmonium before shipping out. Lars from Rain City Music answered all my questions quickly and even sent me a few demo videos of him playing different models. I just wanted a reliable, good sounding harmonium and didn't need anything too unique or fancy. Also, Rain City is located on the west coast as am I so it wouldnt need to be shipped overseas or very far.

:cloud:

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by Trilo » Mon May 18, 2020 7:30 pm

commodorejohn wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 6:42 pm
...Shouldn't the plural be "Harmonia?"
All the Googling I did came up with "Harmoniums". Harmonia seems to be "the goddess of harmony and concord... a daughter of Ares and Aphrodite and as such presided over both marital harmony, soothing strife and discord, and harmonious action of soldiers in war."

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by EPTC » Mon May 18, 2020 7:39 pm

It doesn't match a real harmonium in any tangible way but Henry Lowengard has a wonderful iOS app that's a very pleasant drone app based on a harmomium, chord and tone wise, and even allows for motion tracking of the phone in your hand like it were a physical one.

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/srutibox/id288419651

Worth a look but clearly not a harmonium. But close enough if you want one in your pocket!
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Re: Harmoniums

Post by plainofjars » Tue May 19, 2020 4:05 pm

Trilo wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 7:27 pm
plainofjars wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 6:03 pm
What harmonium did you end up getting? What else led you to choose it?
I got the Swaranjali 828S its a standard model. I didn't want a portable/collapsable model as I wouldn't be traveling with it. I've read that standard models have less moving parts and are slightly more reliable with less of a chance of air leaks. I was also impressed with the wide range of Indian instruments on the Rain City Music site and it was recommended in this thread. When I contacted them, they only had 5 harmoniums available and only 2 standard models, both 828S. The one I got had a glass jali vs wood jali which I thought looked cool. Also the price was great... $525 compared to $800+ for some standard models I saw on other sites. Also didn't want to get one on Ebay or Amazon because I wanted someone deeply familiar with the instruments to tune and set-up the harmonium before shipping out. Lars from Rain City Music answered all my questions quickly and even sent me a few demo videos of him playing different models. I just wanted a reliable, good sounding harmonium and didn't need anything too unique or fancy. Also, Rain City is located on the west coast as am I so it wouldnt need to be shipped overseas or very far.

:cloud:
Awesome, thanks for the info!

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Re: Harmoniums

Post by sduck » Tue May 19, 2020 8:05 pm

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I've always been confused by the term Harmonium. This thread has shed a lot of light on the eastern variety of these, which I knew about but only a little. Growing up with a western classical music education, I was mostly familiar with the pump organ varieties of these, which are basically smaller parlor type organs that were fairly popular 100-200 years ago. I don't think anyone is still producing anything like these old ones. Finding one of these now is really difficult - the nature of the hand or foot operated bellows is that they always leak eventually, so on the average ones you can find these days you're dealing with several layers of leak repairs. There's a version of Mahler's fourth symphony arranged for 11 players, a singer, and a harmonium - I've offered to fund a performance of it, and even play the harmonium part, but finding a working instrument is nearly impossible.
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Re: Harmoniums

Post by abandonist » Tue May 19, 2020 9:34 pm

I have a portable pump organ that was ridden hard and put up wet. It was used in WWII for field funerals. I always say “I’ll get that restored this year,” but then I want a new synth or amp or whatever. It does still make sound, and stay relatively in tune, which is kind of amazing for its age.

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