Jayanti Sahasrabuddhe and organizer Raagmala, a Davis-based nonprofit Indian classical music group, present a lecture-demonstration on harmonium tuning by accomplished artist Vivek Datar, who will be accompanied by Professor V. Sundaresan on tabla.

The evening will include an interview session led by emcee Milind Kulkarni, who will explore topics such as the mechanics behind Indian gandhar tuning versus Western tuning, and how a layperson can distinguish between music which is “in tune versus out of tune, and the various methods of tuning and retuning which can be applied to most musical instruments,” Datar says.

Datar is also excited to perform with his self-designed harmonium during the demonstration and says that it is “a new type called ‘the changeable reed harmonium’ with adjustable reed sets. The instrument was engineered with the assistance of Hinge Musicals, a well-known harmonium-maker from India.”

Datar champions the harmonium’s use and credits its beauty to its “simplicity”—“there is no need to retune the instrument every time you play as in the case of the violin or the sitar,” he says. “When you are out of tune, it is easy to hear the mistake when one misses a note by a small fraction. Unless your ears can recognize the difference, it is hard to correct this mistake.”

Datar learned to play the harmonium from his late guru, Vinayakrao Kale, a Gwalior gharana vocalist in India. Datar continued harmonium accompaniment and solo performances in the United States and became interested in tuning theory and its application through the influence of vocalist,  Veena Sahasrabuddhe. Datar currently maintains an active teaching and performance schedule in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is his second lecture-demonstration.

The harmonium is a visible instrument in light classical Indian music, some forms include ghazal, geet, film music, thumri, and kirtan. The early European harmonium was established in India as a favored instrument amongst classical musicians by the 19th century. The popularity was partly due to the structural conversion from a seated version to the hand pumped floor version that was more compatible with the common practice of Indian music playing while sitting on the floor.

Although the basic mechanism to produce a note has remained the same, the structure has improved through the years. Bellows and keys are easier to play and out of travel necessities the harmonium has became smaller; some models such as the A 22 Shruti can be carried as hand luggage, says Datar.

Saturday, Jan. 21, 5-7 p.m. The International House of Davis 10 College Park, Davis. $7 general, $5 students. (925) 577-7281.jayanti_s@yahoo.com.

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