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Keyboard vs. Harmonium — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 26, 2024
The keyboard is an electronic instrument capable of synthesizing a wide range of sounds, while the harmonium is an acoustic, pump-operated instrument primarily used in Indian music.
Keyboard vs. Harmonium — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Keyboard and Harmonium


Key Differences

A keyboard is an electronic device that synthesizes and mimics the sounds of various musical instruments, offering versatility across multiple musical genres. In contrast, the harmonium, an acoustic instrument, produces sound by pumping air through reeds using bellows operated by hand.
Keyboards typically feature multiple sound effects and can incorporate rhythms and backing tracks, whereas harmoniums provide a distinct, sustained sound that is integral to traditional Indian and South Asian music.
While keyboards require electrical power to function, harmoniums are entirely mechanical, making them portable and usable in places without electricity.
The playing technique also differs; keyboard players use keys to trigger sounds electronically, while harmonium players must continuously pump the bellows to produce and sustain notes.
Keyboards allow for dynamic volume control through touch sensitivity, but the volume on a harmonium is controlled by the force of the bellows.

Comparison Chart



Sound Production

Synthesizes a range of instrument sounds
Air pumped through reeds

Power Source

Requires electricity
Mechanical, no electricity needed


Versatile, used in various music genres
Primarily used in Indian and South Asian music

Volume Control

Touch-sensitive keys
Bellows force


Generally portable, some are large
Portable, but bulky due to bellows

Compare with Definitions


An instrument often used in bands and music production.
The band's keyboardist added a synth track.


Operates mechanically by pumping air through reeds.
He learned to control the harmonium's bellows for sound.


A versatile tool for composing and arranging music.
He uses a keyboard to arrange his music compositions.


Used widely in Indian classical and devotional music.
She practiced her kirtans on the harmonium.


A device that uses various sounds to mimic other instruments.
His keyboard can imitate a violin.


Known for its warm, resonant tone.
The harmonium added a warm texture to the music.


A popular choice for music education.
Children often start music lessons with a keyboard.


Often seen in yoga studios and spiritual settings.
The yoga instructor played the harmonium during meditation.


An electronic musical instrument with keys resembling a piano.
She played a melody on her keyboard.


A free-standing musical instrument with a keyboard and bellows.
The musician played a harmonium at the concert.


(Music) To play (a composition) on a piano or keyboard.


A keyboard instrument in which the notes are produced by air driven through metal reeds by foot-operated bellows.


A panel of buttons used for typing and performing other functions on a computer or typewriter.


An organlike keyboard instrument that produces tones with free metal reeds actuated by air forced from a bellows.


A row of levers that are depressed with the fingers to produce or modulate the sound of an instrument, such as a piano or organ.


(music) A small keyboard instrument that consists of a series of reed pipes, which sound when one of the keys is pressed to open a valve that allows air to pass through.


Any of various instruments, played by means of a musical keyboard, often connected to a synthesizer or amplifier.


A musical instrument, resembling a small organ and especially designed for church music, in which the tones are produced by forcing air by means of a bellows so as to cause the vibration of free metallic reeds. It is now made with one or two keyboards, and has pedals and stops.


To set (copy) by means of a keyed typesetting machine
Keyboard a manuscript.


A free-reed instrument in which air is forced through the reeds by bellows


To enter (text or data) into a computer by means of a keyboard.


A set of keys used to operate a typewriter, computer etc.


(music) A component of many instruments including the piano, organ, and harpsichord consisting of usually black and white keys that cause different tones to be produced when struck.


(music) A device with keys of a musical keyboard, used to control electronic sound-producing devices which may be built into or separate from the keyboard device.


(intransitive) To type on a computer keyboard.
Keyboarding is the part of this job I hate the most.


The whole arrangement, or one range, of the keys{3} of an organ, piano, typewriter, etc.; that part of a device containing the keys{3} used to operate it.


Device consisting of a set of keys on a piano or organ or typewriter or typesetting machine or computer or the like


Holder consisting of an arrangement of hooks on which keys or locks can be hung

Common Curiosities

What skills are needed to play a harmonium?

Ability to manage the bellows and play the keys simultaneously.

What are the main differences between a keyboard and a harmonium?

The keyboard is electronic and versatile; the harmonium is acoustic and used mainly in Indian music.

Can a keyboard replicate the sound of a harmonium?

Yes, many keyboards can mimic the harmonium's sound.

What type of music is best suited for a harmonium?

Indian classical and devotional music.

Which instrument is better for beginners?

Keyboards are generally more accessible for beginners.

Is the harmonium easy to transport?

Yes, though somewhat bulky, it is portable.

How do you maintain a harmonium?

Regular cleaning and occasionally re-tuning the reeds are required.

Do keyboards come in different sizes?

Yes, from small portable models to full-size versions.

Are there modern versions of the harmonium?

Some models incorporate slight modifications for ease of play, but the basic design remains traditional.

Can keyboards be used without power?

No, they require electricity or batteries to operate.

Are there different types of keyboards?

Yes, including digital pianos, synthesizers, and MIDI controllers.

How do the costs of keyboards and harmoniums compare?

Keyboards can range widely in price; harmoniums are generally more uniformly priced.

What accessories are needed for playing the keyboard?

Stands, benches, and sometimes pedals.

Where can I learn to play the harmonium?

Many music schools that focus on Indian music offer lessons.

Can the harmonium's volume be controlled?

Yes, by the force with which the bellows are operated.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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