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JayJay

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi everybody,
by luck I’ve found this forum and hope, somebody of you can help me ...
I’m going to buy me an harmonium from India, but would like to play western style folk music with it.
My choice after checking around in the different web sites of Indian instrument producers and sellers is as follows:
DMS 13/4RG custom made to my needs
-left hand player (bellow spring changed to the left side )
-waxed surface instead of gloss paint
-foldable (for travelling)
-scale changer 13 scales
-left coupler
-4 sets of English steel reeds
-tuned to A440

Now my questions:
I have found advices in different places not to buy any scale changer, cause they do not work properly, but nobody explains why this is so. Out of my understanding of the scale changing mechanism-function, the problems should not have anything to do with leakness of air holes, bellows or anything like this. It must be a mechanical problem, because the unit of key, stick, pivot rail and pallet cannot be fixed, as the keyboard will be moved left or right when changing scales. What causes the problems and would this mean in any case not to buy a scale changer really? Which company is able to handle the problems?

Due to my plan to play and sing western music, I think to change the drones from black keys (where most of them are traditionally) to the white ones, means C/D/F/G/A. But I’m not an experienced musician. Would you recommend me to do this or advice me any other keys to change the drones to?.

And a last one: What are extra notes?

Thanks in advance for helping me around
Kindest regards
Jürgen
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Anonymous

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Posts: 987
Reply with quote  #2 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "JayJay"
Hi everybody,
by luck I’ve found this forum and hope, somebody of you can help me ...
I’m going to buy me an harmonium from India, but would like to play western style folk music with it.
My choice after checking around in the different web sites of Indian instrument producers and sellers is as follows:
DMS 13/4RG custom made to my needs
-left hand player (bellow spring changed to the left side )
-waxed surface instead of gloss paint
-foldable (for travelling)
-scale changer 13 scales
-left coupler
-4 sets of English steel reeds
-tuned to A440

Now my questions:
I have found advices in different places not to buy any scale changer, cause they do not work properly, but nobody explains why this is so. Out of my understanding of the scale changing mechanism-function, the problems should not have anything to do with leakness of air holes, bellows or anything like this. It must be a mechanical problem, because the unit of key, stick, pivot rail and pallet cannot be fixed, as the keyboard will be moved left or right when changing scales. What causes the problems and would this mean in any case not to buy a scale changer really? Which company is able to handle the problems?

Due to my plan to play and sing western music, I think to change the drones from black keys (where most of them are traditionally) to the white ones, means C/D/F/G/A. But I’m not an experienced musician. Would you recommend me to do this or advice me any other keys to change the drones to?.

And a last one: What are extra notes?

Thanks in advance for helping me around
Kindest regards
Jürgen
Reasons why scale-changers can be less than great for some people.
Too many that are shipped out of India are built with green wood. Meaning they may play well when first purchased - but when they dry out and warp - the slider mechanism can seize up and be worthless. If you are buying from a reputable dealer - this is rarely an issue.
..........2nd - scale-changers do not travel well. If you are planning to have it at home and occaisionally take it out for a gig, it's not an issue. But musicians that travel from gig-to-gig will frequently avoid scale-changers because the slider mechanism is relatively fragile and unstable and can get out of allignment easily. If the player is experienced and knows how to re-adjust the mechanism, it's not so bad, but if you are not mechanically inclined - then you might want to avoid this and use an instrument with a fixed keyboard. Also - traveling with a scale-changer involves a substantial effort in terms of packing it to travel. It's not just about closing the lid and going.
................For my money - having a scale-changing mechanism - makes one a lazy player. If you learn how to transpose - you won't ever need a scale-changing mechanism. Never learning to transpose, will seriously limit your abilities as a player.
..............Extra notes; most harmoniums are built with 3.25 or 3.50 octaves. More notes than that are considered "extra". DMS who makes the harmonium you are asking about is one of the few reliable dealers who won't sell you a green-wood harmonium. As far as who does repairs, I do them - but not on a ship-to basis. I only take scale-changer repairs in-shop. Ali Akbar Khan College probably does them too. Hope that answers all your questions.
Good Luck,
Keshav
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JayJay

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #3 
Dear Keshav,
thanks for your quick reply!
I have understood that the problems are mostly mechanical and think I am able to handle this out of my practise of building hurdy gurdys. Anyway - I fully agree on your "lazy player thoughts", but on the other hand I am not feeling to be an experienced musician, so this can help me to focus on the instrument. In any case I can still have the instrument set to the basic key and transpond as well.
Travelling would not mean to travel as a musician, but sometimes take it with me to school or places like that - maybe 20 - 30 times a year, even less!
If you have time I would kindly ask you to give me your thoughts on what I have asked concerning the drones. Would you agree on changing them to white keys for playing western music? Is there anything else I should think about in terms of the difference of buying an Indian instrument and my western use?

By the way, if you are repairing harmoniums - would you kindly let me know, where you live and what you are working. Me personally- I'm a teacher of fine arts and I live in Germany close to the boarder of Switzerland.

Thanks again
Cheers Jürgen
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Anonymous

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Posts: 987
Reply with quote  #4 
Hello JayJay and Keshav Das,

Very interesting that this topic came up now as I was going to ask some of the very same questions that have been posted here.

As a "Lazy Player" I have been looking into the scale changer option as well. I have never owned a harmonium before and do not intend on becoming an expert player. The main perpose for purchasing a harmonium is to use it in the temple for Kirtans and Bhajans. Most of the time it will be at home in my temple room, so there will be very little traveling with this instrument.

I have been looking at two harmoniums. The first is a Paul & Co. folding unit and the other is a DMS, also a folding unit. I've heard a lot of good comments on this forum about Sitar's Etc. and both of these harmoniums are available there.

Which one would be the better instrument? The Paul & Co. is less than $200 more than the DMS.

I have also read that the bellows return spring on a Paul & Co. harmonium is very stiff and some people do not like them for that reason. But I have also read that they are concidered the top of the line as far as harmoniums go.

What it all boils down to is that I'm looking for a good quality instrument with a good playing feel, as well as, a sweet sound for playing devotional music.

All Glories to Sri Sri Radha Krishna!

All Glories to Guru and Guranga!

Hare Krishna,

Bhakta Ron
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Anonymous

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Posts: 987
Reply with quote  #5 
"If you have time I would kindly ask you to give me your thoughts on what I have asked concerning the drones. Would you agree on changing them to white keys for playing western music? Is there anything else I should think about in terms of the difference of buying an Indian instrument and my western use?

By the way, if you are repairing harmoniums - would you kindly let me know, where you live and what you are working. Me personally- I'm a teacher of fine arts and I live in Germany close to the boarder of Switzerland.

The harmonium is a Western instrument to begin with - so no changes
are needed to play Western music. If however you intend to play only in C/D/G/A then you should have the drones replaced to D/D/G/A. Thsi is what I do on the Signature 23 models which are primarily sold to Americans and Europeans.

We are located in New York City and I said before we do not take shipped in harmonium repairs. Too many problems arise as a result of the shipping. We do in fact handle tabla re-heading via mail or courier. But to get a harmonium repaired it has to be brought into the shop to be serviced.

Regarding the return spring on the Paul & Co - this is a matter of personal taste. I like my harmoniums set up in the classical style - which is - with no return spring at all. There is superior control of the breathing that way. Many customer do in fact like the bold spring action of the Paul models.
Best,
Keshav
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Anonymous

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Posts: 987
Reply with quote  #6 
Keshav Das,

So are you saying the DMS harmonuims do not have a bellows return spring?

Which of the two harmonuims, the Paul & Co. or the DMS, would be best suited to a begining student?

All Glories to Sri Sri Radha Krishna!

Shrila Prabhupada Ke Jaya!

Bhakta Ron
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Anonymous

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Posts: 987
Reply with quote  #7 
Keshav Das,

So are you saying the DMS harmonuims do not have a bellows return spring?

Which of the two harmonuims, the Paul & Co. or the DMS, would be best suited to a begining student?


No - I didn't mean to imply that DMS did not come with a return spring. Most makers these days assume the player wants one - so you would in most cases have to request the instrument be built without a spring.

As to "better" that's all very subjective. DMS or Paul? It's like saying Mercedes or Jaguar. Both make fine instruments, tho I think you get more for your money with DMS. I have a longtime customer who buys new harmoniums maybe twice a year. He is a monk at a local Ramakrishna mission and he's had several Paul & Co and everything exotic available, as he buys the harmoniums for various maths (missions) around the country. His current favorites are the Pyush harmoniums from DMS (mine too) but he still has the relatively inexpensive DMS scale-changer he bought from me 12 years ago and says he'll never sell or trade it. What's good for a beginner? There are no "black belts" in harmonium, so buy the best one that fits your budget.
Cheers,
Keshav
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Anonymous

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Posts: 987
Reply with quote  #8 
Keshav Das,

Thank you so very much for your help. You have been very kind to take the time to answer my questions.

All Glories to Sri Sri Radha Krishna!

All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Guranga!

Bhakta Ron
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JayJay

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #9 
Dear Keshav,
I was out for some time, so let me finally give you a big THANK YOU for spending your time and answer my and all these other peoples questions.

Kindest regards
Jürgen
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