Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Folk Musical Instruments

Folk Musical Instruments

There is a great variety of musical instruments which are an essential accompaniment  of folk music. Most of these are common to the whole of Northern India. Broadly these fall  into three categories: stringed, wind and percussion instruments.


This is a one stringed instrument which is played with the fingers. It is made from a piece of bamboo about a metre long  with a large gourd attached to one end. The other end of the stick is inserted in to the hollow of the  gourd resonator which is covered with hide. Before singing, the singer hums gently feeling for the right pitch. The sound of the string keeps the drone of his basic note. This instrument is generally used by Jogis.



This is like a two stringed Iktara and serves the same purpose.


This is a bow instrument because it is played with a bow, which is made of long strand or strands and takes a prominent place as accompaniment to the main singer. It is about 60 cm long made by hollowing out a single block of wood. For tuning, four pegs are fixed in it, to set the strings according to the pitches of twelve-semi-tones. Some Sarangis have thirty-five to forty sympathetic strings running under the four main strings. It has been a folk instrument used by the common people, particularly the Bards for their simple music. In the seventeenth century, the Sarangi was considered suitable accompaniment to the new style of classical music. In Haryana, this instrument is seen with some wandering Bards as an accompaniment to singing their folk songs. It is also used during a Swang performance.



This is mostly used by snake charmers. Two small bamboo pipes are fixed in a hollow gourd. One keeps the drone of the basic note, producing a monotone and other one is used for producing  tunes by the performer. The player blows into the gourd and his fingers move smoothly on the finger-holes of this double-reed instrument. It is used in many folk dance performances.


Bansari (flute )

This is one of the earliest wind instrument called by many other popular names like veena and murali. Seven round holes are bored in a hollow piece of bamboo stick. There are several verities of this instrument. Some are held straight away from the face while others are held transversely, parallel to the eye-brows as it was used by Lord Krishna.


This is a common instrument, seen on occasions of marriage. This is an 'open-air' instrument like Bansari. The modern experts have brought to this instrument a fluidity comparable to that of a stringed instrument.



This is the most ancient wind instrument known to man. In India it is considered very sacred. It is being regarded as one of the attributes of Lord Vishnu. Before using, the Shankh is drilled in such a way as to produce a hole at the base taking care that the natural hole is not disturbed. The instrument  is often  used in temples and sacred shrines. It produces only a drone. In ancient  times, the Shankh was used on the battle field. The Shankh used by Lord Krishna was called Panchajanya. The instrument can be used to produce peculiar rhythmical effects.