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Article: Harmonium Lesson 4: The Scales & The Finger Number

By Haresh Bakshi
  As mentioned earlier, we have assumed the first white key to be the Sa (S), for convenience and convention, simplicity and uniformity.

"The first white key" explained: You will find that there are sets of 5 black keys on the keyboard. Each set of those 5 black keys is made up of 2 + 3 black keys. The first white key is that white key which lies immediately to the left of the first black key. Since there are several sets of 5 black keys, there will also be several "first white" keys. You may select the first white key lying in the middle of the keyboard.

You are going to use only your right hand to play the harmonium. The right hand fingers are numbered as follows:

The thumb is numbered 1
The index finger is 2
The middle finger is 3
The ring finger is 4
The little finger is 5.

A scale is the ascending and descending movements from S R G m P D N S', and back that is, S' N D P m G R S. All the 8 notes are always included, in that order, in a scale. This scale uses only "white" keys, that is, natural notes.

This scale is called the Bilawal thaat, or the "C major" scale.

Which finger plays which key? The arrangement is:
[The finger numbers under the notes of the scale]

S  R  G  m  P  D  N  S' [Ascending]
1  2  3  1  2  3  4  5  [Finger numbers]

S' N  D  P  m  G  R  S  [Descending]
5  4  3  2  1  3  2  1  [Finger numbers]

How are the fingers positioned? The palm remains parallel to the keyboard, suspended on top of the white keys. The fingers are curved (as if you are holding a small ball in the hollow of the palm of your right hand), easy and rather loose, close to one another, the finger tips relaxed and hanging right on the keyboard. You are sitting square in the front of the harmonium. The left hand is extended so that the fingers reach over to the left end corner of the bellows, open and ready to pump in towards you.

Place the finger(s) according to the numbers and keys shown above. Pumping the bellows, and pressing a key will generate sound. Of course you will have to open one or more of the "knobs" situatd in the front (these knobs are called stops) of the harmonium. Place the finger(s) according to the number(s) and key(s) shown above. Press one key at a time.

When going from G to m, slide the thumb from under the fingers, to place it on the m key. When going, while descending, from m to G, slide the middle finger from the top of the thumb, to place it on the G key.

What about someone who plays the harmonium with his left hand (a 'leftie')? If you are left-handed, please write to me; I will show you your finger numbers and positions. [continued to Lesson 5]



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