The Harmonium hails from Germany and it is not an Indian instrument. Also, it is a equal tempered instrument. But the harmonium is a very common accompanying instrument in Hidustani Classical and Bhajan.

Whilst the harmonium is not used for South Indian Carnatic Music, violin is commonly used. The violin was also adopted from western world.

Why did Hindustani music pick harmonium and Carnatic Music pick violin? Why did we adopt Western instruments even though we have a lot of Indian instruments?

  • Pretty much every musical tradition in the world has adopted Western instruments at this point. The reasons for the dominance of "Western" (perhaps a more accurate term might be "European") culture in the world as a whole are many and outside the scope of this site. You might try asking this question instead on the History stack. – Todd Wilcox Apr 16 '18 at 16:35

My uneducated guess is that they each filled a void in the instrumentation available to musicians at the time when European influence was becoming stronger in India.

The harmonium is inexpensive, easy to build and repair with hand tools and easy to transport. For bhajans and qawwalis an even tempered scale is fine, so the harmonium is a good choice for a traveling musician or a rural, agrarian community without a lot of cash flow, such as those where bhajans and qawwalis were and still are produced by folk musicians for popular entertainment and worship.

The violin, being fretless, is one of the few western instruments capable of playing the melodic intervals and embellishments common to the Ragas of Carnatic music, and provides a timbre and register that were not being represented already by stringed instruments in Indian classical music.

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