Sound of India banner


Article: Harmonium Lesson 2: The Basics

By Haresh Bakshi
  Harmonium keyboard and synthesizer keyboard are taken to mean the same thing, and are called simply the "keyboard".

Take a close look at the keyboard diagram below:

The following notations are used to describe the keys on the keyboard: For convenience, the reference note, called the tonic, or the key, or the Sa, is assumed to be the first white key, indicated in the diagram by the letter S.

Remember: any key can become a Sa; but we have assumed the first white key to be the Sa (S), for convenience and convention, simplicity and uniformity.

There are seven musical notes: Sa, indicated by S; Re, by R; Ga, by G; Ma, by m; Pa, by P; Dha, by D; and Ni, indicated by N. All these 7 notes are the white keys, as shown in the diagram. They are called shuddha (natural) swara-s (notes). In this scheme , only Ma is represented by the lower-case "m"; the rest are represented by the respective CAPITAL letters.

Out of these 7 natural notes, Sa (S) and Pa (P) are invariable: Sa and Pa do not have any lower or higher variation. The remaining notes --Re, Ga, Ma, Dha, and Ni -- each has a variation. Ma has a higher variation, called Ma teevra (sharp). It is represented by the letter "M" (CAPITAL this time), its location being as shown in the diagram. The remaining four -- Re, Ga, Dha, and Ni -- each has a lower variation, called komal (flat). They are represented respectively by the letters r, g, d, and n. Their locations on the keyboard are shown in the diagram. So, we have 12 notes from Sa through Ni, as shown under: S, r, R, g, G, m, M, P, d, D, n, N.

They are represented by the 12 keys as shown in the diagram. In the present case, where our Sa is the first white key, the natural notes are white keys, and the variable notes (the sharp and flats) are black keys.

The thirteenth key is Sa again, but this Sa sounds higher than the previous Sa with which we started.

Keyboard image courtesy of Manoo Patel.



© Copyright 2000-2003, All rights reserved.