Indian classical music represents the countries deep-rooted culture and heritage, and the spine of Indian classical music can be said to be the Indian musical instruments. These instruments have empowered Indian musicians to showcase their talents not only in the country but all over the world. Musicians in India are acclaimed for bringing out the essence of Indian culture and taking you on a journey that will be memorable for years to come. During ancient times musical performances were conducted in the king’s court, today people from different corners of the world witness the bliss of Indian classical music through various concerts performed by maestros.
Best Indian Musical Indian Instruments
Associated mostly with the northern parts of India, the sitar is one of the most popular Indian instruments. Shaped like a round gourd with a long protruding neck, it consists of cords, frets, and strings adjusted together to produce the perfect harmony. Invented in medieval India the Sitar flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries and arrived at its present form in 18th-century India. The sitar evolved from one or more instruments of the tanbur family, long-necked lutes which they argue were introduced and popularized during the period of Mughal rule. Used widely throughout India, the sitar became popularly known in the wider world through the works of Ravi Shankar.
Since the 18th century, the Tabla has been the principal percussion instrument in Indian classical music. The tabla consists of two small drums of slightly different sizes and shapes. Each drum is made of hollowed-out wood, clay, or metal. The smaller drum (Dayan) is used for creating treble and tonal sounds, while the primary function of the larger drum (baya) is for producing bass. They are laced with hoops, thongs, and wooden dowels on their sides. The dowels and hoops are used to tighten the tension of the membranes for tuning the drums. It’s a versatile Indian instrument that can be used for solo performances as well as part of larger ensembles as an accompaniment with other instruments. Popularly used in folk music, the tabla is also used in devotional music for Hinduism and Sikhism.
Primarily an accompaniment in Carnatic music the Mridangam has been around since ancient ages. Often accompanied by the ghatam, kanjira, and morsing the Mridangam is more prevalent in the Southern parts of India. The mridangam is often depicted as the instrument of choice for several deities in Hindu mythology. This Indian musical instrument is made from jackfruit wood which is known to be very thick. The two open ends are covered with goatskin and leather straps are tied around the circumference to tighten them. It is widely believed that the tabla, the mridangam’s Hindustani musical counterpart, was first constructed by splitting a mridangam in half.
‘Bansuri’, or a flute is undoubtedly one of the most melodious musical instruments of India. Bansuri is an aerophone produced from bamboo. Some modern designs come in ivory, fibreglass, and various metals. The cylindrical pipe with different sizes of holes in between for producing different tunes. To produce sound, one must hold the holes with fingers of the left and right variations. Popularly used in Hindustani classical music, the Bansuri is intimately linked to the love story of Krishna and Radha. It’s revered as Lord Krishna’s divine instrument and is linked with Krishna’s Rasa Lila dance.
The harmonium has been around for centuries and is a quintessential part of Indian classical music. Often used at festive occasions or religious occasions, the harmonium provides its listeners with serene and sombre musical compositions. When it comes to Indian classical music, the harmonium is the first step taken towards musical prowess by vocalists. The harmonium is essentially a pump organ that generates sound as air flows past a vibrating piece of thin metal in a frame. The piece of metal is called a reed. Hence it can be said the harmonium is much like a reed organ but portable. It’s a popular instrument and is widely used as an accompaniment in Hindustani vocal music, in religious music across the states of Maharashtra and Punjab- Haryana, and in Qawwali music of the Islamic traditions.
Quite similar to the Sitar, Veena is a plucked string instrument associated with South India. Its one of the oldest Indian musical instruments and its origins can be traced back to the ancient yazh, a stringed instrument similar to the Grecian harp. History states that the Veena went through several transitions before its current state. It is 1.5m long and made from jackwood. It has a large, round body with a thick, wide neck, the end of which is carved into the head of a dragon. A small resonator is attached to the underside of the neck. The veena has 24 metal frets embedded in hardened beeswax, mixed with charcoal powder. Melody is produced on four metal strings that run above the frets. These are stretched over a wide bridge that sits on the body of the veena. Three other strings run alongside the neck of the instrument. These are used for maintaining time and for playing the drone.
Mainly used at Indian weddings, the Shehnai is made out of wood with a double reed at one end and a met\al or wooden flared bell at the other end. Its sound is thought to create and maintain a sense of auspiciousness and sanctity and making this the main reason for it to be used in weddings. The name shehnai comes from the Persian word, shah meaning king, whilst nai or ney is the generic term for any kind of wind-blown flute-like instrument. In other words, it is either ‘the king of flutes’ or ‘a flute fit for kings’. The Shehnai is a very difficult instrument to play as it requires tremendous breath control, especially for long sustained melodic passages which can have incredibly fast tempos.
The Magic Of These Indian Musical Instruments Is Awe-Inspiring
Music is something that brings people together and touches your soul. The musicians of India have successfully promoted their music using musical instruments all over the world. The musicians are also experimenting with the versatility of these instruments by using them in modern music as well, making their melodies accessible to everyone. These sounds are meant to soothe your soul and enrich you. So what are you waiting for, grab your favourite music app and go listen?