Monday, December 28, 2015

United by melody of harmony

By Nachiketa Desai For the fourth successive year, the Harmonica Club of Gujarat (HCG) formed by amateur harmonica players was invited by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to perform at the Kankaria carnival before thousands of spectators today. Most of the harmonica club members are busy professionals and senior citizens. There are three entrepreneurs whose manufacturing units, away from the city, require them to commute at least 100 km every day. There is an orthopedic surgeon, a urology surgeon, a judge of the sessions court, a professor of microbiology and a couple of journalists. There are also a few who are leading a retired life. All of them, however, have time for one common activity – to play harmonica every Sunday morning in a public garden in central Ahmedabad. Besides following their passion for music, these amateur music aficionados are trying to revive interest among the younger generation in harmonica. “This handy, pocket-sized musical instrument, called harmonica or mouth organ, once ruled the hearts of millions of youth during the 1950s, 60s and even till the late 70s, with legendary Hindi film music directors such as S D Burman, his son R D Burman, O P Nayyar and Shankar Jaikishan making use of it to compose ever-green melodies,” says HCG president Bansi Gajjar, an industrialist. "Unfortunately, mouth organ is getting out of circulation due to the widespread use of electronic synthesizers which are capable of producing sound resembling almost any musical instrument. However, what these electronic gadgets cannot imitate is the human touch that is required to produce melodies on any of the wind or string instruments," says Manohar Vaidya, who has been playing mouth organ for over 50 years. HCG had a humble beginning with just six harmonica players coming together on a Sunday morning in 2008. These six amateur harmonica players had never met before, but found each other through the social media Orkut, the predecessor of Facebook. "It was through a discussion forum on a search engine and a social networking website that I came in contact with other harmonica players in Ahmedabad and we decided to meet," recalls Tapan Bhatt, a plastic engineer, one of the founders of HCG, who is now working with a multinational company in Dubai. It was decided to meet on a Sunday at Parimal Garden, in the heart of the city, which is a popular public garden among morning walkers and joggers. Shedding all inhibitions, about a dozen amateur harmonica players performed at the garden. Encouraged by the public response, the harmonica enthusiasts decided to perform at different public gardens of the city every Sunday morning. The club soon started getting invitation from several public institutions to perform at their cultural gatherings. What started with just six members, HCG’s strength increased to 26, with both senior citizens and school kids joining it."The Harmonica Club of Gujarat is a not-for-profit organisation with the objective of promoting this once-popular musical instrument. We plan to do charity shows for hospitals and orphanages. We have already received invitation from several social groups to perform at their gatherings," said Bansi Gajjar.
What gave HCG a massive exposure not only in the country but also all over the world was the decision to make a blog exclusively devoted to promoting the tiny musical instrument, which is harmonica, also known as mouth organ and harp. The blog,, profiled amateur players, their videos and photographs, which helped in forming their network. The blog attracted over 86,000 page views and 51,000 unique visits and 11,000 returning visits. In fact, it was this blog which attracted the notice of the organizers of ‘India’s Got Talent’ reality show, who suo motu invited HCG to participate in the contest. A dozen members of the club, all in their 60s, participated in the contest and got standing ovation from the jury and the spectators. The success of HCG inspired harmonica players of Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai to form similar clubs in their cities. The latest such club was formed by amateur players in Surat, which is headed by a Urologist. Since last two years, an all-India meet of harmonica club is held annually. The first one was held in Delhi, followed by one in Indore. There are regional meets too, held in different places.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

For the fourth consecutive year, the Harmonica Club of Gujarat has been invited by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to perform at the annual Kankaria Carnival today evening for two hours. Watch out for the videos on this blog in coming days. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Harmonica Crash Course

Hohner and Furtados have organized training programs for beginners as well as advanced players in Mumbai from November 21 to 25. The fee for each course is Rs. 3,000. Registration forms are available at all Furtado showrooms.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Temporarily disabled

We are sorry to report that for more than six months now, we are unable to update the Harmonica blog. For some inexplicable reasons, we have been deprived of the right to upload or modify content on the blog.

However, we are trying our best to regain our control over the blog, failing which we might even have to migrate to a new blog or website.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Edutainment with accordion

Some of the members of the Harmonica Club of Gujarat had the opportunity to interact with accordion player Amit Vaidya who had come down to Ahmedabad from Pune at the invitation of HCG member Prof. Piyush Pandya. Amit, 40, is a tech guy who works with Tech Mahindra.

Amit gave a solo performance in Gandhinagar on March 31. He not only enthralled the audience with his extraordinary rendition of some of the old and popular numbers from Hindi film but also explained the intricacy of this wonderful musical instrument which was made popular by music directors, Salil Choudhury, Shankar Jaikishan and OP Nayyar.

"Accordion is a folk instrument of farmers of Italy. It was developed from harmonica or mouth organ so that one could sing along while playing the instrument," he revealed.

Amit was fascinated by the instrument when he saw the accordion of his uncle when he was a child. "I decided to learn the instrument at the very first opportunity. I bought a second hand accordion in 1994 when I got my first salary," he says.

He took lessons from two accordion players of Pune who had also played in the film industry. "However, I realized that I need to learn western music and staff notations if I wanted to master the instrument. So, I joined a music class in Mumbai conducted by veteran music teacher Cyrus Panthaky," he says.

Later, when he went to UK he learnt advanced techniques from a couple of accordion players. He also attended the annual accordion festivals.

Here are some of the numbers he played in Gandhinagar.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Through the lens of trigger-happy Nitin Patel

Here is from Nitin Patel's Harmonica Club of Gujarat portfolio:

Through the lens of trigger-happy Nitin Patel

Professional photographer Nitin Patel from London, who has recently been appointed the India representative of the world's oldest Harmonica maker, Seydel of Germany, was here on the New Year to introduce the latest models of this hand-made instruments to the members of the Harmonica Club of Gujarat. All the club rmembers got the opportunity of trying out about a dozen harmonicas that he had brought the India to let the players know about this unique company which is the first to make harmonicas with steel reeds. The Seydel harmonicas are expensive compared to harmonicas of other makes. But, they are strong, sturdy and sound sweet. 

While the club members were playing and generally fiddling with the instruments, Nitin Patel kept on clicking photographs. 

The HCG was honored to bestow life-time honorary membership on Nitin, who has been playing harmonica since he was a seven-year-old boy. He has the child-like enthusiasm and boyish smile at 67 today.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

zindagi hans ke bitayenge

Paresh Bhatia has been training scores of school children in harmonica playing. Some of his disciples like Aditya Chalishazar and Devansh Shah have turned out excellent players, drawing applaud from audience at public performance. Today, as part of Christmas celebrations, Paresh Bhatia and Aditya played this song by the side of the Parimal Garden lake.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A TRIBUTE TO DEV ANAND – Hai Apna Dil To Aawara

I could not resist myself but to do another special tribute song to EVER GREEN SUPERSTAR DEV ANAND.  He loved Harmonica. He was the one who encouraged young R D Burman to play the harmonica in this film song.  All Indian harmonica players love to play this song.  I always feel happy when I play this song on Harmonica
 Dev Saheb is not going to Rest In Peace in Heaven and he won't offer the God the lead role.


Tribute to Dev Anand - GATA RAHE MERA DIL

I have played today (04th Dec 11) and uploaded this song from his Film “Guide” as a “TRIBUTE to Bollywood screen legend DEV ANAND” who passed away after “ROMANCING WITH LIFE”.  He passed away in London at the age of 88 on 3 December 2011 (4th December 2011 by Indian time) due to a cardiac arrest.