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What instrument is this?
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Author:  ytliek [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:22 am ]
Post subject:  What instrument is this?

I've never seen this instrument before, although I am familiar with Julie Fowlis. What instrument is she playing? And is it traditional?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOu0qOR ... igest-ctrl

Author:  Peter Duggan [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

It's a harmonium. Not common in Scottish trad, but widely used in Indian music and the inspiration for Penguin Cafe Orchestra's 'Music for a Found Harmonium'. And sometimes found in a larger, more piano-like form (with foot-pedalled bellows) in smaller/older Scottish churches.

Author:  ytliek [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

Thank you Peter. Is the harmonium difficult to play? How about scales and the piano keys, Julie keeps squeezing, can both hands be on the keyboard?

Author:  Peter Duggan [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

ytliek wrote:
can both hands be on the keyboard?

Not with that sort, but yes with the foot-pedalled sort. Which, as hinted above, typically substituted for pipe organ in smaller venues (the Church of Scotland organist on the Isle of Coll had one in her house to practise on when I was a boy), but probably rarely now in the electronic age.

Author:  Feadoggie [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 12:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

The harmonium can be a lovely instrument. The harmonium was a staple with traveling evangelists and missionaries in the 19th century and well into the 20th century. Bellow blown organs can be small as the one is in the Julie Fowlis video or as large as need be (thanks for the link). As Peter points out they were/are also found in many country churches. They of course fell out of the limelight as electricity took over the job of powering the pumps for these organs.

The harmonium enjoyed a revival in the late 60's and early seventies in the music of many folk rockers. The Penguin Cafe piece comes from that era. It was a way to go unplugged by avoid the cultural stigma of the accordion. Thankfully we got over that bit.

John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful was a visible player of the Harmonium early on - certainly pre-Woodstock. But then again John was known for playing many somewhat obscure (to rock music) instruments at times.

Neil Young was, and still is, a proponent of the Harmonium and the larger pump organs. He has been a collector of these instruments since the early 1970's. His favorite stage pump organ can be seen in videos and photos from his annual concert for the Bridge School. His famous "unplugged" concert for MTV in 1993 featured him playing his 1885 Estey pump organ. Young's side-to-side rocking motion is due to his pumping the foot pedals of the bellows. What a vibe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8lSGTzQrTo

I've looked for a small harmonium for decades and have never found one in good condition and I don't have the stomach or deep pockets needed to revive one. Cool instrument. Melodicas and accordions have done the job for me.

Feadoggie

Author:  Peter Duggan [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 12:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

Feadoggie wrote:
The Penguin Cafe piece comes from that era.

In this case actually from the early 1980s.

Author:  ytliek [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

I just read the PCO history on wiki.

Yes, I had heard/seen the larger type of harmonium, yet oddly, not the small version. Neil Young... here goes an afternoon.

I searched the brand harmonium Julie Fowlis is playing, JAS, and the instrument seems popular/likeable anyway.

http://www.jas-musicals.com/sectrad/Harmonium-cases.asp

But I have enough of a learning load just with the whistle. Thanks.

Author:  Feadoggie [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

Peter Duggan wrote:
Feadoggie wrote:
The Penguin Cafe piece comes from that era.

In this case actually from the early 1980s.
Right you are. This getting old thing has some drawbacks apparently. :o

Author:  MTGuru [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

We had a singer who brought her harmonium to sessions a few times for song accompaniment. It's wasn't much use for tunes, but a shruti box could be interesting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9YOFlHjqrc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLEj-x9283E

My elementary school had a pedal harmonium hidden away in a dark and dusty corner of the music room / auditorium. None of the faculty knew what it was or where it came from, but sneaking away from class to noodle on it was a secret pleasure. :-)

Feadoggie wrote:
The harmonium was a staple with traveling evangelists and missionaries in the 19th century and well into the 20th century.

And, of course, the harmonium was a newfangled post-Wheatstone take on the venerable portative organ.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBBqE98nmDM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cfmPYTb9z8

Author:  ytliek [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 5:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

Did I ever mention that I lived another life... and I missed out on a lot cool stuff.

MTGuru wrote:
My elementary school had a pedal harmonium hidden away in a dark and dusty corner of the music room / auditorium. None of the faculty knew what it was or where it came from, but sneaking away from class to noodle on it was a secret pleasure.

Awh there ought to be some kind of penalty for that. Detention, 500 word essay, 10 page... :D

Lifetime learning experience. Thanks for the info and links.

Author:  Tunborough [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

Feadoggie wrote:
Peter Duggan wrote:
Feadoggie wrote:
The Penguin Cafe piece comes from that era.

In this case actually from the early 1980s.
Right you are. This getting old thing has some drawbacks apparently. :o
Got a DVD of the movie "Malcolm" for Christmas, and watched it last week. The movie, and the soundtrack, have held up well.

Author:  MTGuru [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

ytliek wrote:
Awh there ought to be some kind of penalty for that.

There probably was. At least psychologically. Scarred for life and all that. :)

Actually, as captain of the A/V squad I could pretty much wander the halls during classes without arousing suspicion. :twisted:

Author:  Peter Duggan [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

MTGuru wrote:
My elementary school had a pedal harmonium hidden away in a dark and dusty corner of the music room / auditorium. None of the faculty knew what it was or where it came from, but sneaking away from class to noodle on it was a secret pleasure. :-)

Big like! :)

I loved playing on a couple of pedal harmoniums (the one on Coll and another I can't remember where) and could very happily have taken one home...

Tunborough wrote:
Got a DVD of the movie "Malcolm" for Christmas, and watched it last week. The movie, and the soundtrack, have held up well.

I loved the Penguin Cafe Orchestra (still do!) and Simon Jeffes was a very, very clever composer... fundamentally (like me) just believing in music as music and absorbing influences from everywhere. So I'd say people who judge 'Music for a Found Harmonium' by its many folky adaptations and whether or not they think it cuts it as a standalone trad tune are completely missing the point because that, though he took some justifiable pride in its wide adoption, was not a life Jeffes ever anticipated or tried to engineer for it. Likewise 'Telephone and Rubber Band' is quite brilliant when Jeffes not only grabbed his tape recorder to record the bizarre coincidence of engaged and ringing tones where most folk would have just put the phone down but recognised its potential as ostinato motif for a cracking little piece. And I could go on when these are just two of the most obviously famous examples, but just about everything they did makes me smile and some moves me too.

Author:  Feadoggie [ Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

Peter Duggan wrote:
I loved the Penguin Cafe Orchestra (still do!) and Simon Jeffes was a very, very clever composer.
And he was known to play whistle now and again. Wasn't he?

Didn't the Beatles use a harmonium on a few tracks? Seems like "We Can Work It Out" used a small reed organ like a harmonium. The outro of the recording sure sounds like one.

Feadoggie

Author:  Tom_S [ Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What instrument is this?

Christy Moore plays the harmonium on quite a few tracks on the Planxty albums. Beautiful sound.

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