Topic 39: Modification of the structure of traditional Harmonium to accommodate 22 shrutis

Although the 22 Shrutis were now available both mathematically and musically,there were several issues for building a Harmonium capable of playing them.

Firstly, I did not have the skill of chiseling reeds for tuning.

Very kindly, Pt. Tulashidas Borkar visited my residence on my request and demonstrated himself how to chisel the reeds to tune them to the precise note which I produced on the Synthesizer.

After considerable practice, I was able to chisel the reeds myself.

The next hurdle was how to provide space to accomodate 22 reeds within 12 keys in a Saptak. This was made possible by providing 4 reedboards so that 4 reeds came under every single key.

Further, we devised a mechanical modification in the structure of Harmonium, so that a pair of tuned reeds could be played by selection with the help of a knob provided under every key. (Refer to following figures)


Figures show the photograph of 22-Shruti-Harmonium with knobs under every key

The mechanical modification of knobs under every key allows any one pair of reeds (with a higher or lower pitch) as required in a Raga to be selected and played.

The player can even do these adjustments while continuing to play the instrument, although this may not be practically necessary.

Selecting a shruti is very simple. When the knobs below the keys are in 'closed' position, all the 'lower' shrutis are 'on'. So the player only has to 'pull' or 'open' the knobs to get 'higher' shrutis as required in a Raga. This is quick and can even be done while playing.


Figures show 22-Shruti-Harmonium (Patented) while playing: Knobs in 'closed' position in the photograph on the left side, and knobs in 'open' position in photograph on the right side.

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