The harmonium is a wind instrument that looks like a small and portable piano or keyboard, but its sound is more like that of an accordion. It is a very popular instrument in India and other Himalayan countries, primarily due to its mellow and pleasing tone.
The harmonium was brought to India in the 18th century by the French. Over time, the community of Indian artists developed their own original style of playing the instrument. Today it is used as an accompaniment for classical vocals, bhajans, folk and qawwali singers, tabla players, and Kathak dancers.
The basic bols of the harmonium are Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa and Sa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa. There is a traditional method used for fingering, which is quite different from the Western style. Songs are created by playing variations on the main theme.