Music instruments of Rajasthan are made ingeniously from a variety of materials available in Rajasthan, that give them peculiar sound. Both percussion instruments and stringed instruments have been used in Rajasthani folk songs.
Shells of dried gourds of all shapes and sizes are used for gorse stems or bamboo segments for flutes and baked clay pots for drums. The folk music instruments of Rajasthan are classified into following major types:
|Type of Music Instrument||Music Instruments of Rajasthan|
|String Instruments||Sarangi, Ravanhathha, Kamaycha, Ektara, Moochang|
|Wind Instruments||Pungi, Satara, Algoza, Murla, Nad Shehnai|
|Autophonic Instruments||Ghanti, Ghungroo, Manjeera, Khartal, Jhalar|
|Percussion Instruments||Dhol, Chang, Moisang, Nagara|
String Instruments of Rajasthan
String Music Instruments or Tata Vadya are instruments where sound is produced by the vibration of a string or chord. Here the vibrations are caused by plucking or by bowing on the string which has been pulled taut. In these instruments length of string/wire, degree to which it has been tightened, determines the pitch of the note and also to some extent the duration of the sound. Various string music instruments of Rajasthan include:
- Most well-known string music instrument of Rajasthan.
- Multi-stringed instrument that is played by using a bow drawn across the strings and running of fingers on the strings.
- Langas of Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jogis of Marwar use Sarangi.
- Sarangi is Bowed instrument opposite to that of Violen which is bowed in inverted position.
- Example of Lute.
- Ravanhatta is also a kind of sarangi. It is considered to the precursor of the violin.
- The Instrument is made from a belly of half coconut shell and has a body of bamboo.
- It has two main strings(horse hairs) and a variable number of supporting strings
- The Rawanhathha of the Thori or Nayak Bhopas is probably the earliest instrument played with a bow, and this humble instrument could well be the precursor of the violin.
- The bow has ghungroos (bells) attached to it.
- Ravanhattha is main instrument used while reciting Phad of Pabuji.
- Mostly used today by singers of Bhil community.
Kamaycha( Kamaicha )
- This string instrument is constructed out of a piece of mango wood, featuring a round resonator covered in goat leather.
- Kamachya has three main strings of gut (goat intestine), besides nine supplementary and four sympathetic steel strings all passing through a broad bridge.
- The long wooden curved bow of horse-tail hair moving on all the strings is characteristic of this instrument.
- It is used exclusively by the Manganiyars in the Jaisalmer-Barmer region.
- Sakar Khan from Jaisalmer received Padma Shri for his mastery over Kamaicha.
- Iktara is generally played by Nath, Kalbelia saints.
- It is a single string instrument, mounted on the belly of a gourd attached to a body made of bamboo.
- Versions: The Galaleng Jogis of Dungarpur and Banswara have twin gourded Kendru appears akin to the ancient Kinnari Veena, and it has often been called the Keengri in Rajasthan literature. The Chautara, also called the Tandoora or Nissan , is also a popular five stringed drone and beat instrument used as an accompaniment to devotional music and for the Terathali dance.
- This instrument is similar to Sarangi.
- It is played by using nails and had 12 strings.
- It is usually played by Raos and Bhats of Mewar.
- Bhapang is a single stringed instrument & is also known as ‘talking drum’.
- Bhapang is mainly played by jogis of Alwar region.
- The instrument is made up of tumba made out of long gourd. The lower part of tumba is covered by animal skin while upper part is empty.
- Jantar resembles Veena in form and has two tumbas.
- Its Daand is made up of Bamboo with 5-6 wires.
- This instrument is used by Bhopas of Gurhars when singing story of Bagadawats.
- The morchang resembles a jew’s-harp.
- The plaintive, melancholic twang of the morchang are valued addition to the songs of the Manganiyars.
- The Jogis of Abu Road area use a smaller version of the Rawanhathha which has its two main strings tuned to the ‘Sa’ of the Indian octave and a third of steel to ‘Pa’. The Langas use the Sindhi sarangi. It is made up of four main wires, seven jharas and seventeen tarafs. Others members of the family are the Gujratan, Jogia and Dhani sarangis.
- The Surinda, favourite of the Manganiyars, is a small sarangi.
- The Chikara, used by the Meos and Jogis of Mewat is a replica of the Sarangi.
Wind Music Instruments of Rajasthan
Wind Music Instruments of Rajasthan or SUSHIRA VADYA are music Instruments, where air is blown by mouth for music. Sound is produced by blowing air into an hollow column. Here the pitch of the note is determined by controlling the air passage and the melody is played by using the fingers to open and close the in the instrument.
The simplest of these instruments is the flute. Generally flutes are made of bamboo or wood and the Indian musician prefers these due to the tonal and musical attributes of these materials. Excavations of the Indus civilization have shown bird whistles of clay, and seals which show wind and percussion instruments. There is reference in the Vedas to an instrument- veena which was used as an accompaniment to chanting and recitation. There is also mention of a kind of a flute called the Nadi.
Various Wind Music Instruments of Rajasthan are:
- Pungi or Poongi is made of gourd or tumbi.
- It has two tubes, one for the notes and the other for the drone.
- Poongi is generaly played by Snake charmers (Kalbelias & Jogis.)
- Poongi’s adaptation by the Langas called the Murla.
- Algoja is the generic name for a set of double flutes. It is actually a Punjabi instrument adopted by Sindhi folk musicians.
- Algoza is a flute made of Bamboo tube.
- Algoza are favourite instrument of Bheels & Kalbelias.
- Famous Musician – Dodha Khan
- The Kathodis use the Pawri, a flute of bamboo held vertically.
- Satara is an integrated form of Algoza, Flute and Shehnai.
- The Satara of the Langas has one long flute and another flute to provide the drone.
- The Peli of the Meos of Alwar is a short flute, to the music of which the Ratwai is sung in a high pitch
- The Narh or Nad produces music most evocative of the desert.It is a vertical flute with a single long hollow tube, into which the player whistles, at the same time gurgling a song in his throat or actually singing intermittently.
- Shehnai is made out of wood, with a double reed at one end and a metal or wooden flared bell at the other end.
- It usually has between six and nine holes.
- By controlling the breath, various tunes can be played on it.
Autophonic Music Instruments of Rajasthan
Autophonic Instruments or Ghana Vadya are said Earliest instruments invented by humans. Once constructed, this variety of instrument do not need special tuning prior to playing. These are principally rhythmic in function and are best suited as accompaniment to folk and tribal music and dance. Majority of these instruments made of metal. Various Autophonic Music Instruments used in Rajasthan are:
- It is round in shape and made of brass & bronze mixed together.
- The shape of hemispherical metal cups struck against each other. They have different kinds like jhanit and the taala.
- Manjeera is the main instrument in Terah Talli dance.
- Khadtaal is made of small cymbals incrustated into wood blocks.
- Jhalar is another variety of musical instrument ,which is formed by a single metal plate, the thali.
- This is struck in various ways producing different kinds tones and rhythms.
- Ghungroo is one of many small metallic bells strung together to form ghungroos.
Percussion Music Instruments of Rajasthan
A percussion instrument or AVANADDHA VADYA produces a sound by being hit with an object. Sound is produced by striking the animal skin which has been stretched across an earthern or metal pot or a wooden barrel or frame. The earliest references to such instruments have been found in the Vedas where there is mention of Bhumi Dundhubhi; this was a hollow pit dug in the ground and covered with the hide of a buffalo or ox which was stretched across the pit. Various Percussion Music Instruments used in Rajasthan are:
Nagada or Nagara
- The Nagada is a folk drum played with the Surnai and Nafeeri (the two sticks).
- During ancient times, they were usually played during important ceremonies.
- The Tasha and Shehnai usually accompany this instrument.
- The Matkas of Pabuji and the Ghada are a pair of huge earthenware pots, their mouths covered with membrane.
- One player plays each Matka, and the Bhopas use it to accompany their singing. The whole effect is heightened by the graceful dance of the player.