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By Sextus Empiricus, Denise Davidson Greaves

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In the course of time, the influence of these aspects soon faded sufficiently for the harmonium to be absorbed into the popular tradition, as well as the theatre. This necessarily had to be preceded by a period of familiarisation in order for the instrument to shed its social connotations and yet appear onstage as a novelty. The instrument could establish itself as soon as it had been present long enough not to be perceived as purely “European” or “British” any more. History of the Harmonium in India 25 Local demand for the harmonium was tried to be met with local sources (see below), but also with collaboration in Fig.

7. Thus the Indian harmonium is a hybrid instrument, based at least on these two – albeit related – precursors. The idea of attaching the bellows to the back of the instrument so that it can be operated with the left hand, ascribed to Dwarkanath Ghosh, therefore obviously was not as free from precursors or European influence or as revolutionary as the literature would like its readers to believe. History of the Harmonium in India 33 But for India it was the decisive idea, and without its application, the rapid spread of the instrument at that time would not have been imaginable.

Other couplers regulate the wind pressure, raising the volume by increasing the air supply, or set drone pitches (mostly Sa – Pa – Sa – Pa). The latter devices are not part of the “standard configuration”, which consists of stop couplers. Couplers are never changed during performance; the timbre selected for the piece is maintained throughout, and is set – for reasons that require investigation later on – to accommodate the singer’s vocal timbre during accompaniment. The reeds are arranged in the wind chest sorted by rank, and mainly differ in pitch: there are, according to the Indian terms used for the three basic octaves, three ranks: mandra saptak (“low octave”), madhya saptak (“middle octave”) and tar saptak (“high octave”).

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