Harmonium is one of the six hundred instruments of Pakistan and is playing a vital part in music of this country from many decades. The best and the most interesting thing about this instrument is that its sound is produced by air. Harmonium is of western origin and was created by a French man with foot pedal but after a short time, the pedals were converted to hand pumps. In 19th century when British came to India, they brought this instrument with them and the people of sub-continent started taking its advantage in their music. With harmonium, the flow of one’s voice goes well and for this reason it is highly used in Qawwali; a Sufi music tradition.
The origin of Qawwali dates back to 13th century and at that time an instrument known as Sarangi was used. The original essence of Qawwali only comes with the combination of Harmonium. It is a fact that all the lead singers of a Qawwal band know Harmonium well and in Pakistani history best luminaries like Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Aziz Mian Qawwal had great transition over Harmonium. The use of this instrument gained its importance only in Pakistan and is a vital part of Pakistani culture.
Harmonium is usually accompanied by Tabla in a Qawwali and the flow of voice with this match becomes perfect. It is also a fact that Harmonium got its proper recognition when its use in Qawwali was started. It is must that the main Qawwali singer should have a Harmonium and it has now become a tradition. Well! Pakistan is a country which is home to not only Muslims but to Hindus and Sikhs as well so the instrument is also utilized in their Bhajans and other religious songs.
Traditional music is appreciated by people of Pakistan and they love to play it. Most of the parents appreciate their children to learn these types of traditional instruments and harmonium is one of them. It is also taught in major institutes of Pakistan and when teaching Qawwali its use id must so it can be said that Qawwali is incomplete without this traditional instrument.