BENGALURU: A big believer in the healing qualities of music, Saket Jalan has invested time and money into collecting over 200 vintage harmonicas from around the world. The collection is on display at his store, Sonido Musicals on Brigade Road.
Also known as the French harp or mouth organ, a harmonica is a free reed wind instrument that is often used to play blues, Jazz, country and rock ‘n’ roll music. Asked about pieces from the collection that he is particularly fond of, Jalan says, “The Vintage Double Bass Harmonica 265 made by Hohner Germany is a rare antique built before 1980. Experts say it produces better sound than the newer models. The Hohner Sextet Tremolo Harmonica is also very beautiful. It has six working harmonicas in different keys including C,D,F,G,A and Bb.”
Jalan’s collection also includes harmonicas in shapes of football, rugby ball, microphone, banana, metal pocket note, etc. The enthusiast claims to have travelled to many countries to purchase these pieces.
Says he, “In 2011, I was in Washington DC and I happened to read about a man who owned the Vintage Double Bass Harmonica 265. I wrote to him, expressing my wish to buy the piece for my collection. After a few exchanges, I ended up speaking with his wife and children. I told them all about my collection, which at that time included 122 harmonicas, and he gave me the instrument as a gift.”
“I’ve met many such interesting people during my journeys,” he goes on to add. However, with the advent of the Internet, buying instruments online became an easier option for him. “I bought the Sextet Tremolo Harmonica on eBay for about Rs 1 lakh,” he says.
The harmonica has played such an important role in his life that it even helped him meet his wife, Jalan says with a chuckle. “I was playing a Hindi song on the instrument at a wedding. She approached me afterwards and said that she really liked it. Our interaction started there and we ended up getting married,” he reminisces.
The most recent addition to Jalan’s collection is a limited edition Hohner harmonica released by Singapore Airlines on its anniversary. The collector hopes to attend the World Harmonica Festival in Germany next year, to learn more about the instrument and add more to his collection.