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Harmoniums & Shruti Boxes

A Harmonium is a freestanding musical keyboard instrument similar to a Reed Organ or Pipe Organ. The sound is produced by air being blown through the free reeds by means of a hand-operated bellows, alternately depressed by the player, resulting in a tone similar to that of an accordion. The Harmonium is not meant to be played in concert, like a small organ, since its reeds are tuned to sound well together, but not necessarily with other instruments. As such, they are not in concert pitch and are not meat to be. As with many Indian instruments, the key for the music is selected to best suit the vocals, or to set a mood. Harmonium tuning does not reflect the Western scale and is not designed to.

The British introduced harmoniums to India during their colonial period. During the mid-19th century, missionaries brought French-made, hand-pumped harmoniums to India. The instrument quickly became popular being that it was portable, reliable and easy to learn. The harmonium remains popular to the present day and is an important instrument in many genres of Indian music. It is regularly used as accompaniment in devotional songs and can be commonly found in Indian homes. Though derived from the designs developed in France, the harmonium was further developed in India in unique ways, such as the addition of drone stops and a scale changing mechanism.

A shruti box is a small wooden instrument that traditionally works on a system of bellows. It is similar to a harmonium and is used to provide a drone in a practice session or concert of Indian classical music. It is also used as an accompaniment to other instruments, notably the flute. Adjustable buttons allow tuning for these cool instruments.

Our instruments are crafted by some of the preeminent instrument makers of India, such as Pakrashi & Co. and Monoj Kumar Sardar & Bros. Please remember to check out the versatile Swar Sudha “electronic” shruti box, it’s also a metronome and a tuner!

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