Pandit Manohar Chimote

Born on 27th March 1929 at Nagpur, Maharashtra, India, in a family of musical culture, Pandit Manohar Chimote had an earlier tutelage under the renowned maestro Pandit Bhishmadev Vedi, one of the most versatile artists of Hindustani Classical music, who tutored him in the art of playing harmonium. It was not a long period of time that Pandit Manohar Chimote as student spent with Pandit Vediji. Mere association of 3-4 months and with the capital of just an “Antara” (fist half part of a Indian Classical composition), of a “Gaat” (music word for the composition), Pandit Chimote generated the world of “Samvadini”.

Origination of Harmonium: The Harmonium is a rather young instrument. It was first made in France by Alexandre Debain in 1840, who patented his Harmonium in Paris on August 9, 1840. In this instrument he used a pressure winding system, with free reeds. Since that time his invention is used by many others. The Harmonium was produced by many others during the second half of the 19th century.

During the same period in the US an instrument was developed, also using free reeds, the so-called “Reed Organ”, also referred to as “American Organ”. While Alexandre Debain used the pressure system in his instruments, in the American instruments almost always the suction system was used. Harmonium was introduced in India during early twentieth century. Because of the structure and appearance of the instrument, it got its name as “Peti” (meaning Wooden Box). In some parts of India it is also called as “Baja” (meaning instrument you can play on). Harmonium since then to date is taken as the main instrument for supporting-accompaniment (Saath-Sangat) in almost all vocal recitals in North Indian Style of Music with the exception of very few vocalists.

Pandit Bhismadev Vedi, who was a renowned artist of his time, identified the potential of Harmonium as solo performing instrument and thought of modifying the instrument to make it more suitable to Indian Classical Music.

He was the first to dream about and realize the potential of Harmonium as a Solo Instrument. He then fitted the string box (‘Swaramandal’) on top of harmonium to make use of resonance effect and called the new instrument as ‘Sur-Darpan’. It was a very novel concept at that time and was appreciated by many musicologist and artistes.By then Vediji has already done the groundwork for this model. Pandit Manohar Chimote, desciple of Pandit Bhishmadev Vedi, modified Sur-Darpan even further.

Original string box was very bulky in nature and was dis-proportionate compared to the size of Harmonium. So Pandit Manohar Chimote modified the string box in a way that it fits perfectly on top of the sound column above the keys. He also changed the tuning keys of the string box from the traditional style to the lever based keys. This gave this instrument a unique appearance and great convenience of use at the same time. Pandit Chimote also made changes in the keyboard of the harmonium to make it more responsive so that pressure control on the keyboard along with the air pressure in the bellows would display subtle expressions to the music being played on Harmonium. Based on the collective effort from Pandit Bhishmadev Vediji and Acharya Brihaspatiji , later, Pandit Manohar Chimote went ahead to the introduce the concept of ‘Gandhar Based Tuning’ for the first time in a Harmonium. This tuning system is the original tuning system used in Traditional Indian Classical Music. With this change Harmonium became complete instrument for solo performances equally capable as any other instrument.

Innovative genius that he is, Panditji Manohar Chimote developed a unique style of playing his newly designed instrument (Samvadini), which was based on “Gayaki Ang”. With years of Riyaz & Sadhana Pandit Manohar Chimote began performing Hindustani Classical Music in a traditional approach which included the Alap, Jod , Gat and Jhala. Soon his word spread and music lovers all over the country started appreciating this new creation from Pandit Manohar Chimote. Pt. Manohar Chimote renamed this new instrument initially as Sur-Manohar in early 1970’s. However giving his name to this instrument did not appeal to his conscious and he was looking out for an appropriate name. In 1972, when he was traveling in the train, still thinking about right name for his beloved instrument, chain of thoughts led him to a beautiful name. He thought of ‘Samvad’ which is a Sanskrit word for “creating harmony”.Then and there he was convinced that this instrument must be called ‘Samvadini’(Instrument which creates Harmony).Since then this instrument is called Samvadini. Samvadini now is a complete instrument fully capable as a solo performances in the field of Hindustani classical music.

Pandit Manohar Chimote had been the lonely star in the field of Samvadini solo performance and has received many appreciations and awards like “Surmani” award by Sursingar Parishad “Adarsh Sangeet Shikshak” Puraskar to name a few.