Indian Music Instruments

In this page, details about different traditional Indian Instruments would be given.

The first Indian Music Instrument is the Indian Bamboo Flute.

South Indian Carnatic Flute

The flute is a wind instrument, in the sense that sound is produced when wind is forced through a tube with holes. The sound is varied by varying the effective length of the pipe when the holes are closed and opened. The sound is produced due to the vibration of air across the hole and for that to happen, the air must be blown at the correct angle and proper force.

The Indian flute has divine connections with the master being Lord Krishna. It is said that Lord Krishna's flute was so divine that the birds and animals flocked to listen to Him play. In India, the flute is called bansuri in Hindi/Marathi or Pullanguzhal in Tamil and Malayalam, Kolalu in Kannada and such names in the various lanuages of India. The ancient name of the Indian flute is called venu.

Some of the famous South Indian Flautists include Sri Palladam Sanjeeva Rao, Sri T R Mahalingam, Dr. N Ramani etc. From North India we have Sri Pannalal Ghosh, Sri Harprasad Chaurasia, Sri Ronu Majumdar etc.

The hindustani bansuri is generally a 6 holed flute with the seventh hole being the blow hole. The venu has 8 holes with a ninth hole being the blow hole. The flute is made from bamboo reeds and the sound quality depends a lot on the quality of bamboo and the way of making the flute.

The Indian flute music like the Indian Music, has a lot of emphasis on gamakas, unlike the western flutes which have very little or no scope for gamakas as they are mostly key based flutes or the hole sizes are small.

A carnatic venu sounds like as follows.

carnatic flute

A hindustani bansuri sounds like this.

bansuri flute

Flute is an extremely popular instrument in India. It is played generally as the main instrument in carnatic and hindustani concerts, as an accompaniment in dance programmes and also extensively used in Film and light music.

Indian Instruments : Nadaswaram

The next in the series of Indian Instruments after the Indian Flute that we will see is the Nadaswaram[1] or Nagaswaram.

The Name: Nadaswaram or Nagaswaram?

Firstly the name of the instrument. This instrument has been called by different names which includes popularly Nadaswaram, Nagaswaram, Nayanam, Nagachinnam. The fact that this instrument resembles a snake in its look probably was the reason it was named as Nagaswaram or Nagachinnam. In Tamil, Naagam(நாகம்) means serpent or snake. In Muthuswamy Dikshitar's Kriti, tyāgarāja mahadhvajārōha[2] about Lord Siva, Dikshitar mentions in the anupallavi or the second stanza of the song, ....nāga svara maddaḷādi vādyaṃ[2] Lord Siva as the One who is accompanied by the music of Nagaswara and Maddala.
In carnatic classical music, the word Nada is of significance. It literally is supposed to refer to music or sound pleasing to one's ear. Nada also considered as the path to mukti or salvation. In his kriti Nadatanumanisam, Sri Thyagaraja swamy pays obeisance to the Lord as the embodiment of Nada. In this line of thought, the name Nadaswaram also seems to suit perfectly because of the auspiciousness of this instrument about which we will see next. But in this page, we will call it uniformly as Nadaswaram.

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