World Music Monday Instrument of the Week: Harmonium


Each week, tune into World Music Mondays on WMSE (Mondays from 9am – 11:30am CST) to not only listen to world music, but to learn about a different instrument each week, curated by program host, Ruadhan Ward, an Ethnomusicology student and WMSE DJ. Read up on this week’s instrument, here…

The harmonium is an instrument that situates itself tonally in between an organ and an accordion. Invented in the 1700’s by Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein, the harmonium started out as a Western classical instrument. The harmonium soon grew and morphed into different forms, one being a miniaturized version, about the size of a small keyboard.

This version moved with the English to India, where the harmonium took root with Indian classical music. The harmonium was an accessible instrument that was perfect for accompanying Indian classical singing. Soon, the harmonium was adapted into the Indian style, with the addition of drone stops and scale changing mechanisms, and the harmonium became a staple instrument of India. Here’s a link to a Harmonium demonstration:

Here’s what we played on the last edition of Instrument of the Week:


1.) “33 Portraits, Book 1, Op. 101: No. 5. Ein Siegesgesang Israels [Alla Handel]” by Johannes Matthias Michel from Karg Elert: Harmonium Works, Vol 4

2.) “Raga Yaman Kalan” by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Pt. Tulsidas Borkar, and Bharat Kamat from A Rare Treat – Pt. Bhimsen Joshi

3.) “The End” by Nico from June 1st, 1974

4.) “Motion Picture Soundtrack” by Radiohead from Kid A


Tune in next week Monday at 10:30 for the next Instrument of the Week segment!


  1. Al

    In honor of Festa Italiana, could you play some Musicanti del Piccolo Borgo?