11.12.11

Why A Harmonica Player Needs To Maintain His Harmonica And Be Able To Tune It And Carry Out Minor & Major Repairs:

An article by Shri Rajeev Ranjan Baisantry

Harmonica is not an inexpensive musical instrument, Good ones cost a lot. There is no point in producing bad music out it after spending good amount of money to own one simply because it is not properly tuned or has become out of tune with use. We do not buy harmonica every day, and certainly not in dozens. A harmonica technician will charge a good amount for his services and there are not many in our country or rather any that I know of who carry out reliable service. Sending the harmonica back to the manufacturer or any of the harmonica technicians abroad is a very expensive proposition. The to and fro postage itself will turn out to be more than the service charges. An out of the box perfectly tuned harmonica is at the best a dream. That is why fine tuning of harmonica has become a cottage Industry of a sort .Not in our country though: but in Europe, the USA and some other countries certainly.

Well, there is more than one good reason for acquiring necessary knowledge and craftsmanship to maintain and tune harmonica. Harmonica is a free reed, fixed pitch musical instrument. Though harmonica manufacturing over the years has been upgraded by highly sophisticated manufacturing methods, the crucial operation of fixing reeds on to the reed plates and tuning them is still done manually by highly skilled craftsmen. Especially those who tune the reeds are considered to be performing the most crucial activity.

They are considered to be endowed by the Almighty with the merciful gift of very musical pair of ears. This divine gift enables them to bring the pitch of the reed up or down to the accurate pitch. All 64, 48, 20, 144 reeds, as may be the case depending on the model of the harmonica, are tuned individually. How it is tuned will follow subsequently is this write up. Reeds sound when air is passed over them whether in blow mode or draw mode (We all know that). But the harmonica technician at the factory does not play the harmonica while tuning it. The air is passed at a certain pressure in the reed chambers of the comb by bellows like contraption which may not be the same air pressure every harmonica player under the sky applies to play his harmonica. Most of the harmonica players bend notes intently and involuntarily without knowing they have done it. Bending a note is a play of manipulating the air pressure that is passed in the reed chamber or sucked out from it. Off course the embouchure, cupping of hands, angle of harmonica relative to the mouth cavity etc do also contribute

significantly to the end effect of a bent note. It is not that the craftsmen who are exceptionally skilled have done an imperfect job. The point I am trying to make is that the master craftsman who has tuned the reeds has done so under controlled conditions which may be different in the real world. Every harmonica player has a personalized style of playing. The style amongst other things includes the pressure of air blown in the reed chambers or drawn out of them. This air pressure can at the best be classified as low, medium or high. But what is low, what is medium and what is high is not quantifiable. At the best or at its worst, it is a subjective classification. What is low for someone could be medium for some body else and what is medium for somebody could be high for some one else. And, some ones medium could be low for every body else and so on so forth.

So an out of the box harmonica may not sound perfectly in tune to every body. If it is a coincidence that the air pressure you make use of to play the harmonica is the same air pressure at which its reeds were tuned, just thank the Almighty for being kind to you. Otherwise curse the harmonica manufacturer or blame your ill luck depending on which option you like more. However, quite often, even otherwise there are tuning flaws in an ‘Out of the Box Harmonica’. You either live with the imperfections or learn to live without them. The second option will require knowledge and skill to tune the harmonica. These are acquired with the aid of knowledge of the dynamics of reeds i.e. how the reeds behave and what affects their behavior. Not every thing about reed dynamics is required to be known to be able to tune them. Some of it will do.

Reed vibrates while producing sound. It produces a fixed or predetermined pitch. At least, it is intended to produce a fixed pitch. Bending off course alters the pitch. But this is due to variety of factors, the important one being the contribution of the other reed in the same reed chamber of an unvalued harmonica.

Vibration over a period of time causes metal fatigue and results in microscopic cracks in the reeds which go on increasing and multiplying with the use of harmonica. Ultimately the reed completely breaks down or goes flat. At his stage of its life cycle, the reed is as good as dead. It is beyond repair and has to be replaced. But in between the “Janm & Ram Nam Satya Hai” the metal fatigue which has caused microscopic cracks also results in alternation of tuning in varying extent. More than often, the pitch will go flat or come down rather than becoming sharp or going up. The other factor which has effect on vibration of reeds is the reed gap, i.e. the gap between the free end of the reed and the reed plate. Too much or too less a gap will affect the flow of air passing through the reed slot and hence the degree of vibration. More importantly it will retard the response time of the reed. The reed should respond instantaneously and true to its intended pitch. Ideally, the gap between the reed and the reed plate should be approximately equal to the thickness of the free end of the reed. In case of a four octave chromatic harmonica gap could be same for the reeds of octave 2 to 04 and for the octave 1, it could be slightly more. Much depends on your playing style i.e. whether you use low pressure, medium pressure or high pressure or ‘Tornado Pressure’. You have to try and find out how much gap suits your playing style.

Correcting the Pitch

It is very elementary. But doing it perfectly requires more than elementary effort and skill. The very elementary part is that if the pitch is high, you remove reed metal from the riveted end of the reed and if the pitch is low you remove it from the free end. The not so elementary part is how much metal should be removed and how. The more metal you remove, more will the pitch alter and vice-versa. More than often a minor scratch does the job. Too much may even change the basic character of the reed i.e. a C note may be come D or F or C#. Therefore, the scratch has to be a controlled one. And for this, you need gadgets and tools. It is advisable for a serious harmonica player to have a harmonica maintenance kit. There are plenty available in market made by Hohner, LeeOscar, Hering & Syedel. The Seydet tool set is far the most djjjjdjjdHohner, Hering & Seydel. The Seydel tool set is by far the most complete and best. It has every tool one needs, for not only tuning, but replacing reeds as well besides other tools; it has an electrically operated (9 volts) rotary grinder for removing metal off the reed. Although, I personally prefer the battery operated rotary grinder which I additionally have. This one sells under the brand name of Micro Mark - Item No. 84446 Rotary Engraver (Visit the site www.micromark.com). The tuner in the Seydel kit is not very efficient. In the alternative you can go for any of the models made by Korg, Seiko or Boss. Korg CA-30 is inexpensive and good. It should be available in most of the good music shops. The Seydel tool set can be bought excluding the rotary grinder and the tuner.

It is not that you essentially need to have a tool set for tuning the reeds. But, owning one really helps by making the job smooth and uncomplicated.

Some More Basics

1. If you are resident of climatically cold place, all ways warm up the harmonica before measuring the pitch on the tuner. Even when not using a tuner, warm up the harmonica. When you breathe in to a cold harmonica, your warm breath will cause condensation and moisture will deposit on the reeds. This will affect its vibration and pitch.

2. Always support the free end of the reed before removing metal from it. All tool kits have a special tool for this. But you can use a piece of paper preferably photocopy paper or any thing of plastic or metal of more or less same thickness.

3. Remove metal from the extreme ends of the reed by mild scratch using the edge of a shaving blade in the absence of a better alternative .Use only half of the blade; it is easier to handle . The scratch should be at an angle and not straight in the line of the reed .Then test the pitch. Some time, only thin scratch will do. If it does not, remove more metal by another scratch and test the pitch and so on so forth till the correct pitch is achieved. The final pitch should be tested with the harmonica covers in place, as the pitch tends to lower when the covers are placed on the comb.

4. Do not attempt to achieve the correct pitch in one stroke. It does not help. You may over do it and will have to reverse the effect by removing metal from the .All this will shorten the life of an already sick reed.

5. When tuning the harmonica, choose a quite place. External noise will not give correct reading on the Tuner. This does not imply your going to a recording studio. There should not be loud sound from another source such as music system, musical instrument etc.

6. Before attempting to tune a reed by removing metal from it, adjust the reed gap. Many a times the gap affects tuning. It is likely that proper gapping may solve the problem. In any case gapping should always be done before tuning the reeds.

7. When using a tuner, start by ascertaining the frequency at which the harmonica is tuned. Generally, the frequency of the key note is the frequency at which all the reeds are tuned or rather should be tuned by the manufacturer. Check the frequency of all key notes of all octaves. The frequency will be found to be in the range of 441 to 445 Hz. The erring reed will be found deviating from the frequency of the key note. Either it will be + or --.

End Note: Harmonica is a delicate instrument. It deserves delicate handling and care as any other delicate thing. There is nothing on earth like an indestructible reed. Reeds will become de tuned with use. There is nothing to be disheartened about it. Tune it back. Only a properly tuned harmonica will produce good sound and good music.

Acknowledgements: There is nothing in this write up which is original. Input has been drawn from material available on internet and my own experience of playing and tuning harmonica. There is an excellent article on the subject by Pat Missin on his site: patmissin.com.

ABOUT ME

Rajeev Ranjan Baisantry

DOB: 3rd July 1950

Education: B Com (Hons) & MSW from Delhi School of Social Work

University Of Delhi

Professional Background: H R M Professional. Served with Public Sector

Undertakings for 37 years. Superannuated as General Manager (H R M) of a Public

Sector Undertaking in construction contracting. Now an independent HRM & Industrial Relations Management Consultant.

Interests: Playing Harmonica (Undoubtedly), Listening Good Music,Reading, Traveling & Photography.

Marital Status: Married.

Family Composition: Three Daughter,& A Wife (Yes , She Has To Be There)

Residence: Resident of Delhi

Contacts; rajeev.baisantry@gmail.com

Phones: 7428433177 &01126169928.

Few harmonica renditions by me.

Jaane Chaman Shola Badan

Sham-e-Gham Ki Kasam

Dil Ko Lakh Sambhala Ji

Lehron Ki Tarah

Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum

Harmonica Our Passion!


5.12.11

India witnesses the Power of Brendan

Recently, to charge Indians with advanced techniques to play and explore the harmonica, Abe brought Brendan Power to India. Brendan Power’s tour to India at Bangalore, Goa and Guwahati left unforgettable memories among Indian harmonica lovers.

UK-based New Zealander Brendan Power is acknowledged by many as one of the most creative, skilled & versatile harmonica players around today. Brendan is voted Harmonica Player of the Year 2011! He received the prestigious Bernie Bray Award from SPAH.

Equally at ease on both the earthy Blues Harp as well as the sophisticated Chromatic Harmonica, he tunes them to his own scales to create a highly original style. He has recorded fifteen solo CDs to date, in a wide variety of musical genres.

Since he moved to Britain in 1992, Brendan's eclectic skills and sympathetic ear have made him an in-demand session player, leading to live and recording work with artists such as Sting, Van Morrison, Kate Bush, James Galway, Paul Young, Shirley Bassey, John Williams, Mike Batt and many more. His playing is also heard on many Hollywood movie soundtracks (e.g. the 2008 Oscar winning soundtrack for 'Atonement'), and BBC TV series. He's featured on the internationally-syndicated Jools Holland Show and toured worldwide, performing in venues such as China's Great Hall of the People and The Kremlin.

In addition to his Pop, Jazz & Blues skills, Brendan is an expert player of Irish traditional music (winning the 1993 All Ireland Title), and performed for three years as soloist in the Riverdance Show. He has recorded with well-known Irish artists such as Donal Lunny, Altan, Paul Brady, Arkady, Artie McGlynn, Mary Black and others. A respected harmonica technician & customiser, Brendan is employed by Suzuki Musical Instruments Co. of Japan as their International Harmonica Specialist.

Excitement had been building among HaLoH members to meet Brendan Power, his partner Laura and Abe Thomas on November 26th at Club Counter Culture, Bengaluru. Thanks to Mr Abe Thomas for taking lot of pains to arrange a work shop by Brendan Power at the venue exclusively for Bangalore Harmonica Club and HaLoH members. The participants of the workshop included Abe Thomas, Saitejas, Debashis Dutta, Chandra Sekhar Khare, Vasudev Prabhu, Nazaurius Manoharan, Rajah of Pithapuram Shri RVMR Ratna Rao garu,Vinayak B, Ishan Bakshi and Ramana Ilayaraja. The interesting one-hour workshop was interactive and it included tips on maintenance, tuning, customizing, playing- techniques of chromatic and diatonic harmonicas by Brendan Power. This was followed by Brendan Power’s power-bending rocky gig in front of a hip younger audience at club Counter Culture, streamed live on the internet by Indigo radio. Brendan roped in Vineeth Vilcent (Indian beat boxer, Guinness record holder); Saitejas (the only Indian harmonica player who plays Carnatic music on chromatic harmonica) and did a storming gig that was very well received by Bengaluru audience and harmonica lovers.

Don’t tell me you don’t know who Abe Thomas is!

Everybody must agree with us that revamping of harmonica activities in India took place in the last 4 and half years. People who left their hobby of playing this musical instrument and forgot it in their cupboards now have become serious with it again. People in India now have started - discussing about harmonica, buying good quality harmonicas, befriending other music lovers over internet, sharing their passion and love towards harmonica, opening their respective channels in youtube, esnips to show-case their skill and motivate others to play harmonica. All these things happened with in a very short period of time. This credit goes to one gentleman who is undoubtedly Mr. Abe Thomas.

Bangalore based purveyor of musical instruments, Abe represents the Suzuki Musical Corporation in India, which manufactures harmonicas. In 2006 He started a harmonica forum in yahoo groups called “HarmonicaIndia” he is the group nanny for 500 members; Thomas admitted that his motivations spring in part from his business interests “It’s called market development!” But all harmonica lovers get benefited from his initiative.

Thanks to Brendan and Abe… :)

4.12.11

A tribute to evergreen hero "Dev Anand"

Legendary actor Dev Anand, the 'evergreen romantic superstar' of Indian cinema passed away.

Dev Anand, or Dev Saab as he was fondly called was much feted, winning the Dada Saheb Phalke award, the highest honour in Indian cinema, in 2002, and countless other awards. Dev Anand will be remembered for his boyish charm, his trademark hairstyle, his sloping walk, rapid dialogue delivery and most of all for his indomitable spirit that serves as an inspiration for generations of actors after his time

Few harmonica lovers shared their love towards this legendary personality on facebook

Dileep Balakrishna Naik : Dev Anand will be badly missed by people like us the Harmonica lovers. He loved Harmonica and used it in all his movies. He was the one who encourages R D Burman to play the harmonica in the famous song Hai apna dil to awara which is for most of is the first and signature song for all.

Akshay Kumar: Dev Anand's "Hai apna dil to awara " of film “solva saal” has brought up n encouraged many harmonica lovers .This is the first song that any harmonica beginner plays.

HaLoH join millions of his fans in mourning his death. Our member Ramana paying his tribute to “Dev Anand” by playing a popular number on harmonica from Dev Anand’s movie “tere ghar ke samne” hope visitors of this blog like this.


22.11.11

22nd Nov'11-Celebrating Milon da's 81st birth anniversary

Last night Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad celebrated 81st birth anniversary of Milon da. They had a great time from 10 pm till midnight playing few Milon da’s numbers on harmonica. Milon da is the man who popularized harmonica with his melodies and taught harmonica to many harmonica lovers including our core member Shri Vinayak B.

16.11.11

Waah Ustaad! : Harish Nayyar from the land of Golden Temple

First harmonica-First song: It all started in 1990 when Harish, a college student was holidaying with his friends in Dalhousie. He purchased a Hero tremolo harmonica. After initial struggle, he could play the Indian harmonica Anthem- ‘Hai Apna Dil To Awaara’ from the movie Solva Saal. Within a few months, he purchased a Tower Chromatic harmonica and started playing Hindi songs on it. He also performed on stage during college functions. This was just a beginning and Harish never used the chromatic button because he was oblivious to the fact that the button is meant for getting chromatic notes in between some songs. Soon, he passed out of college in 1992 and played the harmonica once in a blue moon.

Passion for harmonica: Love for the Harmonica re-surfaced again in 2008 and Harish started playing harmonica regularly. He started uploading his renditions on the You Tube. It was during those days that he became popular through his channel. Our member Raman Khandelwal remembers talking to Harish Nayyar over phone in 2008 to convince him to upgrade to valved harmonicas of other brands. He also remembers how people used to identify this budding harmonica player. One day Shri Vinayak B., a senior harmonica player of Hyderabad told Raman about Harish that there is a guy who attempts new songs on his Tower harmonica and he has a good sense of melody. Very soon, Harish learnt the usage of slider button and started playing complicated songs. People used to discuss about this guy usually playing those songs impeccably on a ‘Tower’ which were never attempted on the harmonica. He proved that even on an ordinary budget harmonica, one can get wonderful melody. He has no basic knowledge of music and plays the harmonica by ear on a ‘C’ Chromatic harmonica by matching with the scale of karaoke tracks.

Soon, Harish upgraded to a ‘Swan’ valved chromatic harmonica. He improved his harmonica skills manifold times after switching over to a 12 hole valved chromatic. Later, he purchased a Hohner Larry Adler Pro 12. Currently, he plays on the Hohner CX-12 harmonica which is his most favourite instrument.

There’s one funny incident which Harish recalls. One day he came across an advertisement of a music institute in Amritsar which also mentioned ‘harmonica’ in the list of music instruments that were being taught. Harish went to the institute to improve his harmonica skills and found two young guys managing the institute and teaching the harmonica. They played some songs on the harmonica and demonstrated how they would go about it. Then they asked Harish to play some songs. Once, Harish started and played a couple of songs, they were dumbfounded and immediately requested him to join their institute as a harmonica tutor. Harish was reluctant to do so because he felt that he had miles to go and learn a lot before he starts teaching. He politely declined their offer and went back home.

Style and preferences: Harish usually plays Indian melodies. He enjoys playing those songs which were never attempted on a harmonica by other players. His style of playing can be easily identified by his ‘murkis’. Harish says that he can’t play any song straight. He naturally tends to use ‘murki’ while playing. He says “I listen to the song carefully before attempting it and believe that if one listens to the song right, one plays right and if one listens to the song wrong, one plays wrong. I try my best to play in ‘sur’ i.e. play correct notes as far as possible and if unnecessary, I avoid effects like hand vibrato and tongue slapping which may deviate from actual music.

HaLoH wishes Harish Nayyar a Happy Birthday! He’s celebrating his birthday on the 17th of November. Enjoy this rendition- ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’, yet another non-conventional song played on the harmonica by him.

video

More info on Harish Nayyar is available on the following links of our blog.

http://harmonicahyderabad.blogspot.com/2010/01/rendezvous-at-delhi.html

One must definitely listen to this Sindhi number ‘Dama Dum Mast Kalander’ played by him.

Harmonica Our Passion!


3.11.11

An evening with "Debashis Dutta"


Recently, after celebrating Deepawali, Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad met another harmonica lover Mr Debashis Dutta from Bangalore. They had dinner at a restaurant after having a good musical session. HaLoH members enjoyed listening to the renditions by Mr Debashis and also played the harmonica one-by-one.

Mr Debashis Dutta, an Aerospace and Materials engineer by profession, is 55 years old. He is based atBangalore where he had lived and worked for the last 30 years. He did his B.Tech in Metallurgical Engineering from BHU-IT and then followed it up with an M.Tech degree each in Aerospace Engg (IIT-Madras) and Materials Engg (IISc Bangalore). He currently works in a senior engineering position for a USbased aerospace MNC in Bangalore. He is a member of harmonica Club of Bangalore.

He is a self-trained mouthorgan player. He got introduced to this instrument when he was about 14/15 years old in high school by his maternal cousin Mr. Satinath Mukherjee who was an accomplished harmonica and piano professional and a contemporary of the great Milon Gupta. His cousin gifted an old Hohner mouth organ to him which he still possesses. What interests him about the instrument is that it is quite versatile, user friendly, a constant companion for every season and every place and produces music that pleases his ears along with everyone else’s ears. Moreover, anyone with an ear for music can learn the instrument on his/her own and give performances.

More information about Mr Debashis Dutta can be obtained at the following link

http://harmonicahyderabad.blogspot.com/2011/03/haloh-meeting-with-debashis-dutta.html

Harmonica our passion!

25.10.11

‘Chalo Dilli’: Harmonica Lovers’ Meet

Dilli Dilwaalon Ki- Channi Uncle plays a perfect host

On 2nd October, harmonica lovers from different parts of the country gathered at Channi Uncle’s place in Delhi to “Breathe Harmonica”. This 59 year old gentleman has been playing the harmonica for almost 40 years. His name is Chander Parkash Chawla and he is popularly known as ‘Channi Chawla’. He is a retired government employee and is crazy for this cute little instrument. He says that playing the harmonica, listening to harmonica and discussing about harmonica makes him feel happy. He has a unique personality with a good sense of humour. He has his own distinctive style which separates him from the crowd. He loves collecting harmonicas and suspenders. No wonder, you’ll find him with the right combination of suspenders to suit his clothes. He hosted the meet at his place and made proper arrangements for boarding and lodging of the guests who were not from Delhi.

The Rendezvous- ‘Breathing Harmonica’

The harmonica lovers started arriving at Channi Uncle’s place since the morning of Gandhi Jayanti. No sooner did they arrive, than the harmonica session started and the people continued playing the harmonica seamlessly only to call it a day at 10:30 PM. It was also a memorable birthday celebration for Ramana from Hyderabad who happened to share his birthday with the father of our nation. The rendezvous lasted for almost 12 hours.

The guests of Channi Uncle included M/s Swarup Mitra from Raniganj near Kolkata (W.B.), Rameshwaram from Katni (M.P.), Ajay Vijh from Singrauli (U.P.), Ramana Ilayaraja from Hyderabad (A.P.), Keyur Shah from Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Raman Khandelwal from Jaipur (Rajasthan) and Harish Nayyar from Amritsar (Punjab). The Delhites who graced this occasion were M/s Rajeev Ranjan, Rajkumar and magician ‘Big Bhandari’. The co-hosts were harmonica lovers M/s Rakesh Chaudhry and Sandeep Tomar.

Harmonica Lovers with Arijit Mukherji

Channi Uncle and his guests visited harmonica icon Arijit Mukherji at his residence in Gurgaon. They had a good time listening to the mesmerizing renditions of his upcoming projects. Some of the songs of these projects were so soothing to listen that the guests Keyur Shah and Raman could not refrain themselves from requesting Arijit da to play one of the numbers once again on his music system. Arijit da also played some numbers on his harmonica to make the session livelier.

More info on Mr. Arijit Mukherji can be obtained at the following links.

http://harmonicahyderabad.blogspot.com/2010/04/arijit-mukherji-noteworthy-harmonica.html

Khana Khazana: Big Bhandari hosts dinner

The harmonica lovers were invited by Mr. Ashok Bhandari for dinner. Very few people know that he is a personality with multiple talents. Needless to say that he is also a good cook. He reciprocated Channi Uncle’s gesture by inviting him and his guests to his place.

Harmonica magician Mr. Ashok Bhandari popularly addressed as Big Bhandari by our harmonica lovers gave a brief speech to harmonica lovers on the harmonica during his earlier visit. He says that he is not a harmonica player and he does not know the mathematics pertaining to music and harmonica. He just plays the harmonica with feelings. He prefers calling himself a performer. Harmonica lovers who heard Big Bhandari Live for the first time were convinced that he has the capacity to entertain and mesmerize his audience with his performance.

More info on Mr. Ashok Bhandari can be obtained at the following links

http://harmonicahyderabad.blogspot.com/2009/12/ashok-bhandari-magician-who-loves.html

Back to Work:

After the Delhi visit, almost all the participants had forgotten their Dil (heart) and Dimaag (Mind) in Dilli for almost a week. Information related to some of the harmonica lovers present in Delhi can be obtained at the following links.

Ajay Vijh:

http://harmonicahyderabad.blogspot.com/2011/03/ajay-vijh-and-his-positive-vibrations.html

Swarup Mitra:

http://harmonicahyderabad.blogspot.com/2011/07/swaroop-mitra-harmonica-tiger-from.html

Rameshwaram:

http://harmonicahyderabad.blogspot.com/2010/07/harmonica-lover-of-week-rameshwaram.html

Keyur Shah:

http://harmonicahyderabad.blogspot.com/2010/06/my-experience-at-ahmedabad-atithi-devo_18.html

Happy Deepavali. Have a Blast.

Harmonica Our Passion!


21.10.11

Vardhman Jain visits HaLoH

Recently, harmonica lover Mr Vardhaman Jain from Vadodara visited Hyderabad on his official trip. He completed his engineering from MNIT Jaipur and joined Indian Railways. He has been playing the harmonica since his college days. Despite his hectic schedule he obliged and spared his valuable time for this brief rendezvous. Here is a tagged photograph of the Harmonica Lovers.

You can enjoy more videos from Mr Vardhman Jain at

http://www.youtube.com/user/vardhman1962

Harmonica Our Passion!

16.10.11

Inderjit Singh Soni: Visit to Pink City

Recently, Mr Inderjit Singh Soni visited Jaipur (Pink City) along with his family. He met our virtual member Raman Khandelwal. It was their first meeting but they felt that they knew each other for quite a long time. They spent two hours discussing about music, harmonica and had a musical session with karaoke tracks. Here’s one of those numbers played and recorded by him along with karaoke track at his home. Mr Soni, who started playing the harmonica in his childhood, says that he has been improving his harmonica skills after being associated with the harmonica lovers at HaLoH. He is also thankful to Mr Avinesh Singh for taking pains in teaching him the basics of recording.

video

Harmonica Our Passion!

8.10.11

Ashwin J. Betai: A Journey from Rangoon to Hyderabad


Our harmonica lover this week is Shri Ashwin J. Betai who was born in Rangoon (Burma) and is now settled in Hyderabad. He is a 50 yrs old Gujarati businessman with a good sense of humour. There is never a meeting at Indira park when HaLoH members do not laugh at his funny jokes. He can play many instruments like Harmonica, Flute, Mandolin, Harmonium and Keyboard.

Ashwin ji developed the love for music during his childhood at Rangoon when his father used to play the harmonica. Later, their family shifted to Kolkata where he used to observe his uncle play the Mandolin. His uncle taught him to play the Mandolin. At the age of 17 or 18, on his request, his uncle gifted him a Hero harmonica and he started performing in college stage shows. Today, after being settled in Hyderabad for almost 30 years, he still plays the Harmonica and Flute in several programmes of his community.

Though he has Hohner Larry Adler 16, he still loves to play old Hindi melodies on his Tower harmonica. His 13 yr old son Yash A. Betai is learning to play the harmonica from our own fellow member Shri B. Vinayak who was a direct student of Milon da. Mr Vinayak teaches with notations and feels that Yash is picking up harmonica skills very fast and jokes that one day he may play better than his father.

Ashwin ji has a special inclination towards the wind instruments. He feels that even a sick person becomes well after listening to the sound of harmonica and flute.

5.10.11

Our Second Birth Day!


Friends,

It was exactly two years ago (according to the Lunar Calender) i.e. Dushera 2009 that this blog was launched.

We had begun a journey not knowing where we were headed but I guess we are slowly finding our way, thanks to all your support, guidance and patronage.

We at HaLoH thank you all and look forward to your continued support.

A Happy Dushera to all of you.

22.9.11

Milon da’s son says “HaLoH Hyderabad”



Recently, HaLoH members G Raj Kumar, B Vinayak and Ramana met Shri Sanjoy Gupta, The son of harmonica legend Milon da.

It was a brief rendezvous at hotel Mercure in Hyderabad. Mr sanjoy Gupta is a free lance Cost Accountant and is settled in Mumbai.

Mr Sanjoy Gupta doesn’t play the harmonica. Never the less, He has carefully preserved almost 80% of the collection of rare EPs,LPs,Audio cassettes and harmonicas of his father. His son (Milon da’s grandson) Master Shubhayu Gupta is a music lover and has cleared his 6th grade theory for keyboard from Trinity College of Music, London. He will be appearing for his practical examination this year.

Mr Sanjoy Gupta had discussed about harmonica, And his father’s close friends and associates settled across the globe including Karun da ( Shri Karun Chakraborty) who’s article has already been published on this blog.

http://harmonicahyderabad.blogspot.com/2011/02/rendezvous-with-milon-das-associate.html

It was really interesting for those present there in the meeting to learn about the close associates of Milon da.

Harmonica our passion!

Big (B)handari’s version of ‘Om Jai Jagdish Hare’

Long back, our friend Kromatic Khandelwal requested Big Bhandari to record one of his favourite harmonica tunes-‘Om Jai Jagdish Hare’ which he plays often. This artee, sung in the praise of Lord Vishnu (Narayana) has been finally rendered by Shri Ashok Bhandari on his Hering 16-hole harmonica.

The recording is excellent and a track had been especially prepared for this rendition. Bhandari ji has very creatively improvised on this popular number to get a different feel. The notes in the beginning of this rendition have been impeccably bent on the harmonica to mimic the sound of a conch shell.

More details about Mr Ashok Bhandari can be seen at the following link.

http://harmonicahyderabad.blogspot.com/2010/01/rendezvous-at-delhi.html

HaLoH thanks Bhandari ji for this treat.

Harmonica Our Passion!

6.9.11

Harmonica Lover of the week- Noteworthy harmonica player Arijit Mukherji

At his endeavor to popularize harmonica, Mr Arijit Mukherji played few tunes on harmonica for Tara TV “Experts” in 2008. More details about Arijit da can be seen at the following link.

http://harmonicahyderabad.blogspot.com/2010/04/arijit-mukherji-noteworthy-harmonica.html

We do hope you'll enjoy watching these videos

Harmonica our passion!

23.8.11

HaLoH weekly meeting on 22nd August-11


Shri Inderjit Singh Soni invited all HaLoH members to his residence. Hence, this week, instead of meeting at our regular venue-Indira park, Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad Vinayak, Kailashnath,Vijay Konda, A Rajkumar, Avinesh Singh, Ravibabu and Ramana assembled at Shri Soni’s residence. We had a great musical session for 2 hours blended with all kinds of tunes on harmonica followed with tasty Punjabi snacks :-P

HaLoH thanks Mr Soni for his warm reception and hospitality

3.7.11

Swarup Mitra: 'Harmonica Tiger’ from Bengal


Harmonica lovers Ramana,Vijay Konda from Hyderabad and Rameshwaram from Katni (M.P.), on their trip to Kolkata, had the previlege to meet a harmonica lover at his residence in Raniganj (West Bengal). This 40 year old teacher in a govt. primary school is lovingly addressed as 'Harmonica tiger' by Ramana and Rameshwaram. He is Swarup Mitra, a student of Milon da’s student-Saikat Mukherjee. Swarup Mitra is an excellent harmonica player. His soul is completely filled with music. He can play keyboard like a professional and can produce all the chromatic notes like a vocalist through his throat. He doesn’t need any chromatic tuner to identify any note. He has got musical ears and trains his students to play with the help of notations. He has enormous talent with multiple qualities. Above all, he is down-to-earth and friendly.

Early days as a harmonica lover:

Swarup Mitra was in 3rd or 4th standard when he fell in love with harmonica's sweet sound. He used to listen to his father's friend's son. When he asked for the harmonica, the boy scolded him but later lent him his diatonic harmonica to play. By evening, he managed to play 2-3 lines of Rabindra sangeet on his own. Very soon, he could play almost 75% of the tune in his house. His father bought him some locally made harmonicas but he opened all the harmonicas and broke them. When he was in 7th standard, his name was registered to play harmonica on Rabindra Jayanti at school. He did not have any harmonica with him for the purpose. So, he borrowed a 24 holes hero tremolo harmonica for two days from his father's student and played that song. For this, he was gifted a fountain pen by his school.

Swarup Mitra always felt that he was not getting all the missing notes on the harmonicas. In 1985, he purchased his first Hero Chromatic harmonica. From then onwards, he used to play regularly in different cultural programmes on invitation.

One interesting event he cannot forget is during his trip to Goa and Mumbai. He came across some foreigners who started dancing on listening to his harmonica. They had a good music session after which they gifted him some swiss chocolates.

In search of a harmonica Guru:

Swarup used to listen to Milon da's renditions on Vivid Bharti. He also purchased cassettes of Milon Gupta and Saikat Mukherjee. In 1987, he came across a person who used to learn from Saikat Mukherjee. When asked about the address of Saikat da, that person did not give him the address but just dropped a hint that Saikat da lived in Kamarhati area. That hint was enough for him to plan a meeting with Saikat da. It was a herculean task to find a person in the streets of Kamarhati. However, Swarup was determined to wander in that area with a Hero Chromatic harmonica and three audio cassettes of Saikat da. He thought of showing those cassettes to people in the streets and find Saikat da's address. He was lucky enough to meet a person on the road who knew the address of Saikat da.

Finally, Swarup Mitra reached Saikat da's residence. He waited for some time till Saikat da arrived. Saikat da listened to around 4-5 songs and told that he would send him (Swarup) to his guru Milon da as his guru would be able to teach better. However, Swarup insisted that he would learn from Saikat da. Saikat da agreed. Very soon, in a span of 7-8 months he became very close to the family members of Saikat da. Saikat da's wife insisted that he should stop taking fee from his student Swarup because he became just like a family member. From then onwards, Saikat da never accepted any fee from him. He also visited Swarup's house with his family and stayed there for three days.

Time for first HOHNER:

In 1988, Swarup Mitra convinced his father Shri. Kamal Kumar Mitra to buy him a Hohner Super Chromonica 270C from M.Hohner, Germany. They wrote to Hohner directly regarding their interest in purchasing a harmonica. The company agreed to ship the harmonica after receiving International Reply Coupons equivalent to the costs involved. Finally the parcel arrived. Swarup could not sleep for 4 days due to excitement.

Visiting the Mecca and Madina of Indian Harmonica:

In1990, Saikat da told Swarup Mitra that he would take him to the Mecca and Madina (holy places) of Indian harmonica. That place was none other than his Guru Milon Gupta's residence. Swarup was stunned to hear Milon da live. He was highly impressed by Milon da's style and techniques. He had the previlege to see Milon da demonstrate various techniques in front of his eyes. After a few years, when Milon da breathed his last, he cried a lot.

Career Vs Harmonica:

Very few people in India dream of pursuing a career in harmonica. Swarup Mitra once dreamt of pursuing his career in Harmonica. For this, he got support from his parents and he even quit his job at Indian Railways, Chittaranjan because he felt that the prevailing condition at Chittaranjan was not conducive for practicing harmonica. He did not get that environment which would motivate him to take his harmonica seriously.

He went to Doordarshan around 30 times just to get an audition form but failed to get one. On a sunday, he saw an amateur boy playing the harmonica on Doordarshan. Eventually, he was disappointed and decided not to approach Doordarshan any more and continue concentrating on practicing harmonica and teaching how to play this wonderful instrument to those who wish to learn from him.

His favourites:

Swarup Mitra likes listening to the renditions of Milon da, Saikat da, Karun da and some songs of Gautam da. He has special regards for his student Mukesh (a flute artist and a good harmonica player) and Ritesh Mallik without whose support he wouldn't have come across many harmonica lovers including some HaLoH members through You Tube.

Message for the beginners:

Swarup Mitra says,

1) LISTEN to the song AGAIN and AGAIN (as many times as possible) before playing it on the harmonica.

2) LEARN NOTATIONS because notation is the skeleton of the song.

3) ADD EXPRESSIONS to the song because the skeleton should be covered by a body.

4) Don't be proud that you are better than the other

We do hope you'll enjoy watching these videos

Harmonica our passion!