Introduction and Classification of Instruments
Instrumental music has universal appeal, the richness and soothing tones can be appreciated without language and regional barriers. The history of Indian musical instruments can be gathered from various sources such as Literature (folk, general, music), Visual representations (paintings, sculptures, reliefs, models). Most of the Indian musical instruments remain still in use.
Almost every Indian God is associated with a musical instrument. Brahma's consort Saraswathi is seen playing the veena. Vishnu holds the conch, Siva the damaru. Krishna - an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is supposed to have mesmerised all the gopikas by playing his flute ( Venu Gaanam). Sage Narada carries the tambura, Nandi - Lord Siva's disciple plays the Mathalam. Musicological texts ascribe the mahati ( a twenty-one stringed veena) to sage Narada.
In the Ramayana and Mahabaratha, there are several mention of use of musical instruments. When Rama performed the Aswamedha Yaga, several skilled musicians were said to have performed. Ramayana refers to veena, dundhubi, mridangam, bheri, ghata, panava, pataha, dindima. When the priests performed puja, their wives were supposed to have played the veena. The conch had been used during wartime to signify the beginning and end of the day, to alert the army about intruders. Drums were used to convey messages not only during wartime, but also during peace.
There are many musical instruments to be found among the sculptures existing in various temples, cave temples and Buddhist stupas in all parts of India. The therapeutic use of musical instruments had been understood from early days.
The instruments are mostly made using wood, leather, skin, clay. The making of the musical instruments requires great skill & practice in the manufacturing process, combined with some basic knowledge of music & acoustical principles.
The Indian musical instruments are classified into four major categories:
Tata vadya, Sushira vadya, Avanaddha vadya & Ghana vadya.
Tata vadya - String instruments (Chordophonous)
This is further classified based on the mode of playing:
- by friction with a bow like the violin, sarangi, dilruba, esraj, etc
(Ravanastram is one of the earliest known bowed instrument)
- by plucking the string like the veena, rudra veena, gotuvadyam, sitar, sarod, guitar, mandolin, harp, (tambura, ektar -drone instruments) etc.
- by striking with a hammer or a pair of sticks like gettuvadyam, swaramandala
Sushira vadya - Wind instruments
This section comprises hollow instruments where wind is the producer of sound. These can be further classified by mode of playing:
- those where wind is supplied by some mechanical means, commonly bellows - e.g. organ, harmonium
- those where the wind is supplied by the breath of the performer, which can be further classified as mouth blown & nose blown.
* those where wind is blown through the mouth pieces in the instrument - e.g. clarinet, oboe, nadaswaram, shanai
* those where wind is blown through the orifices in the wall of instrument - e.g. flute
Avanaddha vadya - Membrane covered (Membranophonous)
This section comprises all percussion instruments. These can be further classified by mode of playing:
- those played by hand - e.g. mridangam
- those played using sticks
- those played partly by hand and partly by stick - e.g. tavil
- self struck - e.g. damaru
- those where one side is struck and the other side stroked - e.g. perumal madu drum
Ghana vadya - Solid percussion instruments
This covers instruments made out of metal, wood, stone or clay but those that are solid like the ghatam, kartal, gongs, cymbals, etc.
Banam: a single string instrument is played with a stick - is used by the tribes of Bihar
Chikara: a three stringed (two horse hair & one steel) instrument - is used by tribal people from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh
Dilruba: an instrument with four main & eleven sympathetic strings - used mainly in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh & Punjab.
Kamancha: is used by folk singers of Rajasthan
Ektara: a simple instrument used during religious chanting & bhajans by sages & saints
Gottuvadyam: is similar to the veena, but without the frets - is played by gliding a stick on the strings
Kinnari: an instrument that is considered to have been played by the celestial beings Kinnara (half bird)
Mahati: the veena that is considered to have been played by sage Narada
Rabab: the instrument that was used by Tansen
Ravanahatta: the instrument that Ravana is supposed to have invented - still popular in Rajasthan
Santoor: an instrument with several strings (60-100) is played using two curved sticks
Sarangi: has three main strings & around 30-40 sympathetic strings
Sarinda: used by the Langas of Rajasthan
Sarod: the upper finger board has a plate of burnished steel - has seven principal strings - has no frets
Sitar: similar to veena - there are three varieties single sitar, double sitar & double gourd sitar
Tambura: provides the drone - continuously provides a particular base sound
Veena: a South Indian classical intrument - has four main strings
Violin: used as an accompaniment to classical & light music - also solo performances - played with a bow
Chenda: a cylindrical drum, in use in Kerala. Is used as an accompaniment in Kathakali perfromances.
Damaru: a cylindrical drum used by Lord Shiva - knotted strings are made to beat on the membrane
Dholak: similar to Pambai in Tamilnadu - membrane covered on both sides - played with both hands
Ghatam(solid): this is a solid instrument, made of clay. Metal filings are mixed with clay. The artiste holds the pot to his belly while playing.
Kanjira: has a round wooden frame, over which a piece of membrane is stretched. There are coins or bells strung to slits which produces an additional pleasing resonance
Khol: similar to mridangam of the South is in use in Bengal
Mridangam: known to be made of clay originally, is now made out of jackwood . Shaped as a hollow cyliner, with one end of larger diameter than the other. On the right side, a paste of cooked rice & iron oxide or manganese is applied. Plays a major role in classcial conerts
Nagara: has two pieces, the smaller one the female placed on the right & the bigger one the male placed on the left. Used in the North for religious ceremonies & as an accompaniment for dance (Chhau)
Pakhawaj: is similar to mridangam of the South. It is used as an accompaniment to classical music & dance (Odissi)
Pung: is a drum & is used as an accompaniment in Manipuri dance form
Tabla: has two pieces, denoting the male and female sides. Is used as an accompaniment to vocal music
There are other metallic instruments which are mostly used in temples or as accompaniment to music & dance. Some of these are Manjira, Tal, Jhanj, Temple bells, Gongs, Ghungroo
Buffalo Horn: known as Singha in the North & Kombu in the South, is used as accompaniment for tribal and folk music.
Conch: is a sacred instrument. Lord Vishnu holds the conch. Krishna is said to have blown on the conch to start off the Kurukshetra war. In the North a Valampuri (right sided) conch is used to blow during prayers in temples as well as in the homes
Flute: is made of bamboo, provided with holes for finger movement & a hole for blowing
Harmonium: portable keyboard instrument, is operated with bellows & is used widely in the North
Nagaswaram: (or Nadaswaram) an instrument used on auspicious occasions, in temples & weddings, is a double reed instrument, with the drone provided by a type of Nadaswaram known as the Ottu.
Pungi: used by snake charmers, has an oval gourd with small holes at the neck. with two thin bamboo pieces consisting of even holes attached to the centre of the gourd
Shehnai: is the auspicious instrument in the North, similar to the Nagaswaram in the South. There is a sruti shehnai, similar to the Ottu in the South , for providing the drone
An extrmely popular Indian String Instrument with a Pumpkin Gourd at one end,19-20 frets, 7 main strings and 11 sympathetic strings, 127 cms.
Indian string instrument used for accompaniment by both vocalists and instrumentalist, 4 standing notes, available in Ladies pitch (G# & A#), small sized pumpkin approximate lenght 120 cms & gents pitch (C# & D#), larger pumpkin approx. lenght 137 cms. On request 5 string Tanpura can be made to order.
|Also a popular string instrument, chrome plated fretboard, 8 main and 17 sympathetic strings, approximate length 110 cms.|
A bowing string instrument, 4 main strings tuneable with wooden pegs, 19 frets length about 95 cms.
The Hornbostel-Sachs system of classification for musical instruments
Today, the most widely used system of classification for musical instruments in the museum world is the Hornbostel-Sachs system, developed during the 1910s. This was the first system that could be applied to instruments the world over.
In this system, there are five families established according to the component that vibrates to produce a sound:
1) The drum family, or membranophones
The family of membranophones is made up of instruments, like the drum, whose vibrating element consists in a membrane. Drums all have a skin or membrane that is struck either with a stick or the hands or a combination of stick and hand.
They can be single-headed i.e. have a single membrane at one end of their body. Drums can also be double headed i.e. have a membrane at either end.
They are classified according to the shape of their body. In the exhibition you will find frame drums (teueikan) and tubular drums.
Tubular drums include:
2) Stringed instruments or chordophones
The family of chordophones includes instruments whose one or more strings, stretched between fixed points, vibrate when they are plucked (like the guitar), struck (like the piano) or rubbed with a bow (like the violin).
Chordophones are also subdivided into five main categories according to the shape of their body or resonator and the relationship of the strings to the body:
The harp-lute combines the characteristics of a harp, with strings that are oblique to the body, and a lute, with a neck and body; kora, donso ngoni.
3) The winds or aerophones
The primary vibrating agent of the family of aerophones is a column of air contained in a tube, as is the case for flutes and trumpets.
In the exhibition we find three different categories of wind instruments classified according to how the air is set into vibration:
A) The air is set into vibration after being directed against a sharp edge:
B) The air is set into vibration by a vibrating reed:
Clarinette mouth piece
C) The air is set into vibration by the musician's vibrating lips:
Trumpet mouth piece
4) Percussion instruments or idiophones
In the family of idiophones, sound is produced from the substance of the instrument itself, being solid or elastic enough not to require a stretched membranes or strings.
Percussion instruments form a highly varied family. Idiophones are made from a resonant material - wood, bamboo, gourd, metal - whose resonance is created in various ways, either by striking, shaking, rubbing, scraping or plucking the instruments.
In this family sound is produced by electricity, for example a synthesizer; equipment for a disc jockey competition.Edited by adi_0112 - 16 years ago
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