Flute – An Indian Musical Instrument

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Lord Krishna is seen with a Bansuri usually known as flute and it is believed that the music played by Krishna with his flute attracts everyone. Every animal, bird, and human being is keenly attached to the tune that is played by Lord Krishna. There was such a magic in the melodies that each one of them would get mesmerize and follow the sweet and relaxing tune. They would get so lost in the tune that they wouldn’t even realize that they got to finish their work. The pure and divine love of Krishna for Radha could be heard from the magical notes that he played just for Radha. Some are still relating the Queen of Melody –Lata Mangeshkar as the flute of Krishna as her voice has a tendency to attract everyone. She is the one of the most legendary singer in India. But the belief is not to be related to our Myths. Krishna was attracting his surroundings as he was a Lord and his spirituality and divinity was taking people on the path of Dhyan, Yog, Purity, and Meditation.

Now let us see how this flute is made from. Originally flute is made up of wood which has six round holes in it on which flautist keeps his fingers to play and a small hole with a cap on the top and exactly on the top a fine space left to blow air. To make a flute medium sized and aged bamboo is used and the thickness of the bamboo should also be medium. Bamboo is first cleaned and all the stems and bumps are cut and it is sharpened and smoothened. Then selected bamboo tubes are dried for a minimum of one year and then it is converted into flute by making holes in appropriate size at proper distance and polished. The length of flute is kept two and half feet to three feet depending upon the thickness and density of the bamboo tubes.

Bamboo flute is an oldest musical instrument in India. Indian flutes are made in two varieties one with six holes and the other with eight holes. In north India six holes flute is used with one embouchure hole which is known as Bansuri and in South India eight finger holes is used to play Carnatic music and it is known as Venu or Pullanguzal. But rather then this Pt. Pannalal Ghosh who is also known as Amaljyoti ghosh had invented seven holes flute. He placed seventh hole at the bottom of the flute to hit the third and fourth notes of musical scale that is gandhar and madyam of the lower octaves which were used in Ragas such as Darbari. Till his death in 1960 he was the only flute artist who brought Bansuri to the Musical concerts.

Other famous Indian flute artist is the legendary artist known as Hariprasad Chaurasia who is the living master of bansuri who belonged to a non musical family. He was influenced by Pannalal Ghosh who was the master in north Indian music. The other legendary name is Dr. N Ramani whose grandfather Sri Aazhiyur Narayanaswami Iyer was a famous flute artist who composed and sung number of items. He was the first Guru of Ramani who taught carnatic music to him. Dr. Ramani was the disciple of T. R. Mahalingam who was the greatest carnatic flute artist who performed best till his death in 1987.

Indian bamboo flutes are used in classical music but there are flutes which are specially designed for western music.  Flutes for western song are metallic instrumental flute which are silver plated made with yellow brass which is 70% copper and 30% Zinc. This flute gives more mellow sound then wooden flutes.  Since from the history, the origin of flute are Egypt, Greece, and India. But transverse flute is a typical Indian musical instrument found in ancient India.

Though its origin is difficult to understand but its melodious voice is unable to forget. The rhythm itself carries us with its melody. No classical music is complete without a flute and now it has been accompanying other musical instruments like Tabla, Sitaar, and Harmonium.