Proudly Canadian: Harmonium


Submitted by Sandy Graham

The origins of Montreal’s Harmonium date back to when lead vocalist and guitarist Serge Fiori met Michel Normandeau (vocals and guitar) in a theatre music meeting on November 1972. In 1973 they met bassist Louis Valois and became Harmonium. The legendary radio station on Montreal, CHOM FM, was instrumental in breaking the band, playing three tracks;"Pour un Instant", "Un Musicien Parmi Tant D'autres", and "Un Refrain Parmi Tant D'autres". The first 2 songs were demos and were later recorded in the studio and  put on their first album, Harmonium. The last song was a sequel to "Un Musicien Parmi Tant D'autres", but never made the album cut, staying unreleased. The single ‘Pour Un Instant’ stayed in steadfast rotation for many years on FM Radio, both in the English market as well as French.

As many of the Quebec rockers did, Harmonium played the circuit of Old Montreal and toured all over Quebec, gaining fans everywhere they performed. During the summer of 1974, they played to packed houses at Place Des Arts and the Sports Centre of the University of Montreal. Quality Records eventually signed them, in 1974 they released the first self-titled Harmonium that had the single hit ‘Pour Un Instant’ on it.  In 1975 the second release, sometimes known as Les Cinq Saisons, was actually named Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison. There were five songs on the album, one representing each season and the last song being the "new" season. For this album the band had two new members: Pierre Daigneault, playing the flutes, sax, and clarinets, Serge Locat, handling the piano and synths, and with special guest Judi Richards, who sings the melody of the fifth season in "Histoires sans Paroles".

The third album, L'Heptade, was released in 1976 after months of recording in Serge Fiori's own house. The songs describe seven stages of consciousness in a person's day or life. The first and the last songs are named "Comme un fou" and "Comme un sage", indicating a progression towards wisdom.

The band broke up in 1980. Six years later, Serge Fiori went solo, and in 1986 Polygram Records released his self-titled debut album. Michel Normandeau also had a brief solo career in 1979 with the release of his album Jouer on Polydor Records.

Their last concert is said to have taken place at the Centre de la Nature in Laval, Quebec, in late 1978.

In 2007, all three of Harmonium's studio albums were named among the 100 greatest Canadian albums of all time in Bob Mersereau's book The Top 100 Canadian Albums. 

Canadian rocker, GOWAN, paid them an ultimate tribute when he recorded Pour Un Instant on his CD Au Quebec, crossing the English-French border with ease.

Pour Un Instant Harmonium