Reconnect With Classical Roots

Reconnect With Classical Roots

Let's trace back to centuries-old creations that have defined India's culture; and get inspired to try them out as a hobby


Farhana Chowdhury

Published: Thu 15 Aug 2019, 12:12 PM

Last updated: Thu 15 Aug 2019, 2:31 PM

Be it an intricate composition of ragas complemented by layered tempos or soothing pitches, India's folk instruments have been weaving out catchy rhythm and beats, long before rap and dubstep gained popularity. These traditional tunes are still alive and kicking, giving inspiration to some of the world's greatest hits in the international music scene.

Bansuri: A simple flute made out of bamboo, the bansuri is a wind instrument that is played by blowing into a side mouthpiece with careful control of breath. The bansuri features about six to seven perforations, which is used to adjust the tune with finger movements.

Kanjira: Distinct to South India's Carnatic music, the kanjira is similar to the tambourine with its round shape and open base. The frame is made out of jackfruit tree wood, and its drumhead was traditionally layered with lizard skin. As time progressed, this has been replaced by goat skin.

Sitar: Boasting 18 to 21 strings and standing about 4 feet tall, the sitar became popular through the works of renowned Ravi Shankar. The instrument is often made out of teakwood or red cedar, and has a main set of strings followed by sympathetic strings that resonate when the frets are moved accordingly.

Pakhavaj: Falling under the rhythm category, the pakhawaj is a double-headed drum in the shape of a barrel. It is made out of wood and produces a low, sonorous tone, making it a highlight in spiritual Dhrupad performances.

Esraj: Quite similar to Punjab's dilruba, the esraj features a heavy wooden body and metal strings, and is accompanied with a bow, known as gaz. When playing, it is cradled between the knees or on the floor in front of the musician with the neck leaning against the shoulder.

Nadaswaram: The Carnatic nadaswaram is a longer version of North India's shehnai and known as one of the world's loudest non-brass acoustic instruments. Prominent in folk culture, the instrument is made out of ebony wood and metal, and revered auspicious for rituals and events.

Sarod: Popular in North India's Hindustani music alongside the sitar, the sarod serves as a bass. It features 25 strings out of which only few are main playing strings and the rest assist as drones or sympathy. Fretless, this challenging instrument is played with a plectrum made of coconut shell.

Ghatam: The ancient percussion instrument looks like a simple a clay pot but is designed to produce tunes. To play, a musician places it on his or her lap and uses the heel of palms and fingers to strike out fast rhythmic tunes. Other variants are known as garha or madga.

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