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History of Samvadini

Construction

Salient Features

 

The reed organ is a rather young instrument. It was first made in France by Alexandre Debain in 1840, who patented his Harmonium in Paris on August 9, 1840. In this instrument he used a pressure winding system, with free reeds. Since that time his invention is used by many others. The Harmonium was produced by many others during the second half of the 19th century.

During the same period in the US an instrument was developed, also using free reeds, the so-called "Reed Organ", also referred to as "American Organ". While Debain used the pressure system in his instruments, in the American instruments almost always the suction system was used.

Harmonium was introduced in India during early twentieth century. Because of the structure and appearance of the of the instrument, it got its name as "Peti" ( meaning Wooden Box). In some parts of India it is also called as "Baja" ( meaning instrument you can play on). Harmonium since then to date is taken as the main instrument for supporting-accompanying (Saath-Sangat) in almost all vocal recitals in North Indian Style of Music with the exeption of very few vocalists.

Pandit Bhismadev Vedi, who was the allrounder artist of his time, identified the pottential of this instrument as solo performing instrument and thought of modifying the instrument to make it more suitable to Indian Classical Music. He thought of an idea and for the first time fitted the string box ('Swaramandal') on top of harmonium to make use of resonance effect and called the new instrument as 'Sur-Darpan'. It was a very novel concept at that time and was appreciated by many musicologist and artistes.

Pandit Manohar Chimote, desciple of Pandit Bhishmadev Vedi, modified Sur-Darpan even further. Original string box was very bulky in nature and was dis-proportionate compared to the size of Harmonium. So Pandit Manohar Chimote modified the string box in a way that it fits perfectly on top of the sound column above the keys. He also changed the tuning keys of the string box from the traditional style to the lever based keys. This gave this instrument a unique appearance and great convenience of use at the same time. Pandit Chimote also made changes in the keyboard of the harmonium to make it more suple so that pressure control on the keyboard along with the air pressure in the bellows would display subtle expressions to the music being played on Harmonium. Pandit Manohar Chimote, along with Pandit Bhishmadev Vediji and Acharya Brihaspatiji worked on the tuning of this instrument and introduced the concept of 'Gandhar Based Tuning' for the first time in Harmonium. This tuning system is the original tuning system used in Traditional Indian Classical Music. With this change Harmonium became complete instrument for solo performances equally capable as any other instrument.

Pt. Manohar Chimote renamed this new instrument initially as Sur-Manohar in early Seventies. However giving his name to this instrument did not appeal to his concious and he was looking out for an appropriate name. In 1972, when he was travelling in the train, still thinking about right name for his beloved instrument, chain of thoughts led him to a beautiful name. He thought 'Harmony' means 'Samvad' in Sanskrit so instrument which is capable of creating harmony must be called 'Samvadini'(Instrument which creates Harmony).Since then this instrument is called Samvadini.

Samvadini now is a complete instrument fully capable as a solo performing instrument.