Harmonium delemma

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danosax
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Harmonium delemma

Post by danosax » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:16 am

Hi I am new to this forum and have read in the archives much contradicting advice on Harmoniums. Here is my dilemma. I have a Kartar harmonium that I bought about 15 years ago from an SRF temple store. It was nothing special. Bass male reed off the shelf. Plays beautifully, great tone, amazing sustain. I wanted a more portable traveler style for taking to yoga classes I teach. Got a 2 1/2 octave Bina. What junk! Had to repair two leaks in the bellows. The reeds are dull and inconsistent, and the sustain is a joke. What do I have to do to get a traveler with the quality of my old off the shelf Kartar? Am I asking the impossible? Is it possible to buy some premium reeds and re reed the Bina?

OM GUY
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Re: Harmonium delemma

Post by OM GUY » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:41 am

:idea: Without making any commitment to them, why not contact Bina and see what they say, for starters?
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

danosax
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Re: Harmonium delemma

Post by danosax » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:58 am

Hi Om Guy. Thank you for the reply. Yes I sent them an email. Very respectful, but expressing my concern and disappointment, in regards to the quality. They were apologetic, and offered me a 10% discount on my next purchase, but didn't have any suggestions to remedy the shortcomings.

OM GUY
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Re: Harmonium delemma

Post by OM GUY » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:15 am

:( Sorry about that, hopefully someone will happen by, see your post and offer some great advice. :)
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

fossesitar
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Re: Harmonium delemma

Post by fossesitar » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:39 pm

Dump the cheap harmoinium and use the money to buy a decent case for the good one and a 2-wheeled cart.
There is no substitute for sound quality and this is especially true for the classes you teach. Good Luck.

danosax
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Re: Harmonium delemma

Post by danosax » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:03 am

Ah well. so sad. Does anyone make a non scale changer, non coupler, minimalist traveler harmonium, of outstanding quality? And I don't mean OK or some are good and some aren't quality. Personally I'd be good with no stops or drones. Just more stuff to leak or break.

Bhakta
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Re: Harmonium delemma

Post by Bhakta » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:24 am

You may want to try speaking with Keshav Das. http://keshav-music.com/harmoniums2.php
He may be able to at least give you some guidance.

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kalyan
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Re: Harmonium delemma

Post by kalyan » Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:57 pm

Th 2 and 1/2 octave harmoniums are generally a smaller box so the bellows capacity even with no air loss is a bit low in my opinion. they can sound good but they need the same amount of air as their larger counterparts because the reeds are the same, so you will have to pump more. The best ones in that extra small size I have seen have been BD trading scale change so not exactly a strip down model but surprisingly good sustain and full tone.http://www.aacm.org/shop/index.php?main ... bpicf234f4 In general the lots of the Delhi style portable harmoniums are made from pine wood and use brass reeds this gives a loud bright almost metallic sound since the wood is not very dense, some people like the way the sound cuts through so they are very popular for kirtan where they have to compete with lots of voices and loud drumming also they are comparatively light and inexpensive.

The best Calcutta harmoniums are made from hard wood so are more expensive and heavier, they also use copper reeds that combination will give a warmer sound but sometimes they will have a slower response time and be not as loud. The best Calcutta harmoniums I have seen are Paul and Co and Monoj Kumar the Paul and co have the fastest response time and are usually a bit brighter to achieve this they use stiffer springs giving more resistance on the bellows and a bit shorter sustain. The Monoj have a warmer more mellow sound with softer bellows and longer sustain but not as fast key response. Monoj makes my favorite 2 reed fold up but they do have a coupler.http://www.aacm.org/shop/index.php?main ... bpicf234f4 My favorite non coupler 2 reed is the BD trading more or less like the Monoj but without the coupler but the BD is generally a bit brighter sounding.http://www.aacm.org/shop/index.php?main ... bpicf234f4
There are so many harmonium makers out there these are just some of the ones that are good that I have experience with.

Good luck
Kalyan
Kalyan

goddenmusic.com. musicianmallusa.com facebook.com/goddenmusic

Lars
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Re: Harmonium delemma

Post by Lars » Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:18 am

danosax wrote:Ah well. so sad. Does anyone make a non scale changer, non coupler, minimalist traveler harmonium, of outstanding quality? And I don't mean OK or some are good and some aren't quality. Personally I'd be good with no stops or drones. Just more stuff to leak or break.
In answer to this question, we carry a portable harmonium that works well, no stops or drones or leaks. 2 1/2 octaves starting in F which suits a wide variety of vocal ranges. You can use with a guitar type strap, or sit on the floor. Kalyans points are good in that with the smaller direct bellows design there is less air volume but it's a good trade off for portablilty and ease of use if that's what you're looking for. Here is the link: http://raincitymusic.com/harmonium.htm# ... 0harmonium


Lars
http://www.raincitymusic.com

danosax
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Re: Harmonium delemma

Post by danosax » Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:34 am

Wow. Thank you guys for the great information. I think the source of frustration for myself and probably other traveling western Kirtan singers is that I don't want drones or couplers or scale changers or even stops. So if I were to have the ideal harmonium built it would have none of those, but the very best key action, bellows action (cuz I like chords) and reeds that you can buy. But the Indians seem to assume that the less features the instrument has the more cheaply done everything else is. Btw since I am an SRF member I have played several Kartar harmoniums (since they carry them). They have all played well, however I'm sure that's In part because they are likey hand picked by there harmonium guy in India. I however have not seen a smaller (even 3 1/4 scale) popup to try. I've been to their website and emailed them twice with no reply. I will explore some of these links. Thanks again.

Djinn Fizz
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Re: Harmonium delemma

Post by Djinn Fizz » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:33 pm

Lots of good points made here. About small folding harmoniums and sustain, the main reason they do not have as good a sustain as larger ones is the size of the windchest. It has nothing to do with the pumped bellows which are proportionate to the size of the keyboard regardless. When a harmonium is built to fold down to half it's height - it is built with a windchest that is half the depth of the same harmonium in a non pop-up model. The windchest contains the reciprocating bellows and if the size of the windchest is reduced in size - the reciprocating bellows even if they are full sized, have less room to travel, therefore they cannot open all the way to draw in enough air.

That said, I have played harmoniums that were only 2.5 octaves, that had incredible sustain. Most small harmoniums do not sustain well because the builders don't put sufficient care into the making of windchest which can leak where the two halves mate, at the seals where the stops protrude from their holes and numerous other places. Harmoniums are so popular these days and with the high demand always increasing, builders of these instruments are continually under pressure to rush the work, and naturally the quality suffers - especially on the smaller more economical pieces.

Recently I was visiting Keshav Music in New York City with a friend looking to buy a first harmonium who wanted a second opinion before buying. She ended up buying the Travel Gem model which is small (3 octaves I believe) and light even though it is made from teak. It is a very simple instrument with no coupler. The sound was typical of a good Calcutta harmonium with three drones (strangely hidden under the lid for some reason) that sounded very clear. What was really impressive however was the sustain. I have never before run into such a tiny harmonium with such long sustain. Very nice work by Monoj Kumar Sardar. The gig-bag that came with it was junk - but that's typical of instrument bags from many Indian shops.

theotrst
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Re: Harmonium delemma

Post by theotrst » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:24 pm

I am new member of the forum. I join this discussion just to add my inquiry that seems really to fit well in this conversation.

I want to but a portable harmonium and I am looking at all comments and feedbacks to have a better idea. Fortunately I have quite peculiar needs, because I am not a specialist 'indian-music' player, but I am looking at the harmonium sounds because I work in the experimental music field and I am especially interest in static music and drones. Thus, I am looking for a very rich but soft sound, but I am not interested to play melodic phrases and 'virtuosistic' musical lines, but more static chords to create overtones, harmonics ang 'ghost-notes'.

This is the sound I am looking for, and additionally I search an Harmonium

-portable
-no scale changer (no problem to me to transpose...)

I selected some makers:
Monoj Kumar Sardar // Surokar // Bina // DMS // Paul&Co // J. Mondal // Pahkrashi

obviously, I am also looking at a good relation quality/price, :D

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