Thursday, February 9, 2023


Musical Instruments

Musical Instruments Among percussion instruments, the important ones are the dhol, nagara, daba, khol, mridanga, jaidhol etc. The dhol, the common drum, is used in Bihu dance.

Taka, a simple instrument of a piece of bamboo-tube split from one side, is beaten to keep time  measurement in Bihu song and dance. Others are generally used in religious functions, the khol being the principal tala instrument for Vaishnava music. Jaidhol is also used in wedding ceremonies. Khanjari, small and light and a combination of drum and cymbals, also belongs to this class.

Wind instruments (Susir) used for Assamese folk music are the flute, the Ciphung bahi of the Bodos, the kali, the pepa, the singa and the gagana. The Ciphung is a long bamboo flute played at Bodo festivals. Kali, like its more developed version the sehnai, is played in wedding ceremonies. The singa, from sing (horn) is made of a buffalo horn with a little bamboo pipe thrust into it, some hill-folk use an ox-horn also. Pepa, inseparable from the Bihu festival, is in fact only a reed-pipe which is usually connected to a buffalo-horn. Gagana is a small, split-bamboo instrument, very finely cut and delicate. It is played by young women by holding it between the teeth, striking with the right forefinger, allowing the wind to pass as and when necessary.

The stringed instruments (tala) used by villagers are the tokari, the been and the serja or serenda. The Tokari, played like an ektara or a sitar, is widely used by folk singers and also by wandering minstrels who sing mystic songs like Deh Bicarar Geets. The sarod-like serenda is a Bodo instrument played with a bow. Been is also played with a bow, it is an evening companion of village youths who may roam about playing lilting folk-tunes. Of the Ghana classes the most important is the tal (cymbals) which has many a ramification like bhortal, khutital, karatal, mandira etc. Bhortal, the largest pair of cymbals, used by the Vaishnavas, is reputed to have been imported from the Bhotas or Bhutias. The tiniest, the Khutital, is played by Oja-Pali performers Kah, a flat bell, and ghanta, sounded during the progress of a worship, fall under the ghana class.