Explore the Rich Tapestry of Indian Musical Instruments: Captivating Pictures and Names

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Indian Musical Instruments Pictures With Names

The music of India is typically categorized into two main classical traditions: Hindustani music in the northern region and Karnatak music in the southern region. However, various parts of India also have their distinct musical customs that exist separately from these traditions.

Both Hindustani and Karnatak music employ ragas, which are collections of pitches and small melodic motifs used for constructing melodies. These ragas serve as guidelines and patterns that musicians can utilize to create their own distinctive performances. Similarly, tala is a rhythmic system based on the arrangement of stressed and unstressed beats. Musicians have the freedom to generate their own rhythmic patterns within these structures, drawing inspiration from various compositional styles.

In North Indian music, there is a notable influence of Persian music and instruments. This can be attributed to the historical period when North India was under the rule of a minority group that did not extend its control to South India. During this time, Persian language, music, and musical instruments like the setar (which inspired the sitar), kamanche (), santur, and rabab (also known as rebab or rubab) were introduced and adapted in North Indian music. The tabla and sitar emerged as new instruments during this period and gained worldwide recognition as iconic Indian musical instruments. According to legend, the tabla was created by splitting a pakhavaj drum into two halves – with one side becoming bayan and the other dahini. The pakhavaj drum itself had ancestral ties with both tabla and mrdangam drums. Additionally, new genres of music such as khyal and qawwali evolved during this era by combining elements from both Hindu and Muslim musical practices in India.

Hindustani classical music is predominantly known for its instrumentalists, while Karnatak classical music has gained recognition for its virtuosic practices. The sitar, sarod, tambura, sahnai, sarangi, and tabla are the most commonly used instruments in Hindustani classical music. On the other hand, the vina, mrdangam, kanjira are frequently employed in Karnatak classical music. Bamboo flutes like the murali find their place in both traditions as well as various other genres of Indian music. Interestingly enough, many of these instruments are utilized in both North and South India with clear connections between them. Moreover, there are instances where similar-named instruments have slight variations in construction but serve different purposes across regions.

Throughout its history, the people of India have developed various methods to categorize musical instruments. These classifications were primarily based on physical characteristics. In ancient times, the Hindu system divided instruments into four groups: stretched (strings), covered (drums), hollow (wind), and solid (bells). This classification system greatly influenced the Western system introduced by Mahillon in 1880. However, Mahillon renamed these groups as chordophones, membranophones, aerophones, and idiophones based on how sound is produced rather than solely focusing on construction.

A note on spelling : All terms used for Indian musical instruments and musical concepts are common transliterations of the original terms. Subsequently, there are numerous possible methods of rendering the same term in English and inevitable discrepancies in spelling. The spellings adopted here are the ones used by The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001).

The kamanche is an ancient bowed instrument that has undergone modifications as it spread to different regions. Some believe that the kamanche served as a precursor to various stringed instruments like the rabab, sarangi, and Chinese erhu.

The mrdangam is a type of drum that is commonly found in South India. It has a long, barrel-like shape and is often used as the main rhythmic instrument in Karnatak music and religious Kirtan music. In Bengal and Odisha, this particular drum is referred to as the khol.

The murali is a transverse flute made of bamboo. It is used in a variety of musical genres and is often associated with the Hindu Krishna.

The pakhavaj is a drum shaped like a barrel, having two heads that are coated with tuning paste called siyahi. Its origins remain unknown, but it played a crucial role as the precursor to both the Hindustani tabla drums and the mrdangam of Karnatak music. It was widely used as the main accompaniment in Indian classical music. The pakhavaj can be seen depicted in Hindu religious paintings and featured in artworks from the royal Muslim courts during the Mughal empire era.

The rabab is a musical instrument with strings and a resonator covered in skin. It can be played by either bowing or plucking the strings, depending on the specific performance tradition. This instrument is found in different variations across North Africa, the Near East, South Asia, and Central Asia. Similar to how the setar and vina were modified over time to become what we now know as the sitar, the rabab also underwent changes to evolve into the sarod. However, there are still many musicians in India today who continue to play the rabab, making it popular across various music genres.

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The sahnai is a musical instrument with double reeds that is commonly used in North India and Nepal. In South India, a similar instrument known as the nagasvaram is preferred. These instruments have seven fingerholes placed at equal distances and do not have a thumbhole. Typically, the open end of the instrument is made of metal while its body is crafted from wood or bamboo, although there are variations in their construction as well.

A sarangi is a musical instrument that consists of a resonator covered with animal skin. It is traditionally crafted by hand using a single block of tun wood, measuring around 66 to 69 centimeters in length. The three main strings are made from goat gut, while the sympathetic strings can vary in number and are typically made of brass or steel. However, the specific design of sarangis may differ across different regions. For instance, the Indian version tends to be smaller in size compared to its counterparts elsewhere, and not all sarangis feature sympathetic strings.

The sarod, a plucked string instrument with a resonator covered in skin and sympathetic strings, is a relatively recent addition to the musical landscape of South Asia. It has been in existence for less than two centuries. Similar to the sitar, it finds its primary usage in Hindustani music and is often accompanied by the tabla.

The word setar means “three strings.” Other instruments in this family include the two-stringed dutar and the single-stringed ektar. As Indian musicians adopted the setar, they added more and more strings. Early sitars, which evolved from the setar, have six strings, while more contemporary ones include six playing strings and thirteen sympathetic strings. A Persian setar in the Museum’s collection is a miniature that was made primarily for the purpose of decoration. Many such instruments exist in India.

The sitar is easily India’s most famous musical instrument overseas, having been popularized in the West by George Harrison of the Beatles, who studied with Ravi Shankar, one of the greatest sitarists of the twentieth century. The sitar has its roots in both the Persian setar as well as in the vina. Like many stringed instruments used in classical Indian music, the modern sitar () has sympathetic strings that sound only when one of the primary strings is struck on the same note. These strings, which are never played by the performer, resound in sympathy with the playing strings, creating a polyphonic timber that many have come to associate with India through the popularity of this instrument. It is interesting to note, however, that the addition of the sympathetic strings is a relatively recent development in Indian music starting in the late nineteenth century (). The use of sympathetic strings is known to have existed in other parts of the world prior to their initial use in India.

The tabla consists of two drums played by the same musician. Both drums have layered skins and are treated with a tuning paste called siyahi, which helps produce a wide range of tones. The larger drum, known as the bayan, is typically made from metal or pottery. Its off-center siyahi allows the performer to change the pitch by applying varying pressure on the skin with their palm while striking it with their fingertips. The smaller drum, also referred to as dahini or tabla, is usually crafted from sturdy rosewood and produces higher-pitched sounds compared to the bayan.

The tambura is a long, stringed instrument made of light hollow wood, with either a wooden or a gourd resonator. It is typically used in accompaniment with other instruments, providing a drone pitch. Some of the tamburas in the Museum’s collection are not full-sized instruments, but rather miniatures created for their aesthetic appearance. The artistic craftsmanship on the inlay in these objects is beautiful. India has a long history of creating musical instruments as decorative objects, and that tradition is represented in the Museum’s collection.

In Indian art, the vina is frequently depicted alongside the pakhavaj as one of the most commonly shown musical instruments. The vina has taken various forms in both North and South India. In North India, it was known as the bin or rudravina and served as a precursor to the sitar. Typically made with two large gourd resonators connected by bamboo, this type of vina had frets held in place with wax. Most depictions of vinas in art showcase the rudravina variety. On the other hand, in South India, the saraswati vina (also called simply “vina”) remains highly popular in classical music. The basic structure of this hollow wooden stringed instrument includes two gourd resonators (although sometimes there may be more than two or even just one). Another significant instrument in Karnatak music is the gottuvadyam or chitravina which lacks frets and is played using a slide technique similar to that used on Hawaiian slides.

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During the period from 322 B.C. to 500 A.D., there were several prominent kingdoms and empires that emerged in India, characterized by their centralized governance and significant territorial control.

Pictures and Names of Indian Musical Instruments

The Satavahana and Ikshvaku dynasties, which ruled from the 2nd century B.C. to the 4th century A.D., held significant power in ancient India.

The period of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, which lasted from the 3rd century B.C. to the 11th century A.D., holds significant historical importance.

During the period from 322 B.C. to 500 A.D., there were several early large centralized kingdoms and empires that emerged in India.

Pictures of Indian Musical Instruments with their Names

The Satavahana and Ikshvaku dynasties, which ruled from the 2nd century B.C. to the 4th century A.D., were prominent in ancient India.

The era of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka spanned from the 3rd century B.C. to the 11th century A.D.

During the period between 322 B.C. and 500 A.D., there were several significant large centralized kingdoms and empires that emerged in India.

Pictures of Indian Musical Instruments with their Names

The Gupta dynasty ruled over a significant portion of northern India from around 321 to 500 A.D.

Pictures of Indian Musical Instruments with their Names

The Satavahana and Ikshvaku dynasties, which ruled from the 2nd century B.C. to the 4th century A.D., were prominent in Indian history.

The Anuradhapura era in Sri Lanka, which spanned from the 3rd century B.C. to the 11th century A.D., holds great historical significance.

During the period from around 322 B.C. to 500 A.D., there were several large kingdoms and empires that emerged in India, which were characterized by their centralized governance and extensive territorial control.

Pictures of Indian Musical Instruments with their Names

The Gupta dynasty ruled over a significant portion of northern India from around 321 to 500 A.D.

Pictures of Indian Musical Instruments with their Names

The Anuradhapura era in Sri Lanka, which spanned from the 3rd century B.C. to the 11th century A.D., holds great significance.

During the early centuries of the first millennium A.D., smaller regional centers in northern India, which were under Kushan control, came together under the Gupta dynasty in the fourth century. This period saw a flourishing of Mahayana Buddhism and the emergence of early Indian cave paintings from the fifth century. The influence of Buddhism spread to Central Asia and China through international connections. Additionally, Hinduism began to take on ritualistic and artistic forms during this time, leading to an increase in sculptures and temples dedicated to Hindu deities. India also engaged in trade with various cultures including Rome and Southeast Asia.

List of 8 Indian musical instruments

The Chikara is a traditional percussion instrument commonly used in folk music. It consists of a wooden frame with metal jingles attached to it. When shaken or struck with hands or sticks, it creates rhythmic patterns that add depth to the music.

Dhantara is another percussion instrument widely played in India. It is made up of two metallic plates connected by strings and played by striking them together using sticks or fingers. The sound produced by Dhantara is vibrant and resonating.

The Dilruba is a stringed instrument resembling the Western violin but with sympathetic strings added to enhance its tonal quality. It has a hollow body made from wood and can be played using a bow or plucked like other string instruments.

Esraj is yet another stringed musical instrument known for its melodious tone. It resembles the Western cello but has more frets on its neck which allows musicians to play intricate melodies effortlessly.

Kingri refers to various types of string instruments found across different regions in India such as Maharashtra and Gujarat. They typically consist of multiple strings stretched over a resonating chamber made from gourd or wood. Kingri instruments produce a rich and vibrant sound that complements various genres of Indian music.

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Number of Indian musical instruments available?

Later, the four classifications of Indian musical instruments were assigned Greek labels. These classifications are as follows:

1. Chordophones: This category includes Tat Vadya, which are stringed instruments such as sitar, sarod, and veena.

2. Membranophones: Avanaddha Vadya falls under this classification. It consists of percussion instruments like tabla, mridangam, and dholak.

3. Aerophones: Sushir Vadya belongs to this category and comprises wind instruments like flute (bansuri), shehnai, and harmonium.

4. Autophones: Ghan Vadya is classified as autophones in the western system. It encompasses self-sounding or non-mechanical instruments like bells (ghanta), cymbals (manjira), and gongs (jaltarang).

It is worth noting that these classifications were based on the ancient Indian Natya Shastra and have been widely adopted in the western system of categorizing musical instruments.

The 5 instruments in Indian music: What are they?

Another popular instrument is the Sarod which belongs to the lute family. It has metal strings that are played with a pick made from coconut shell or wood known as jaba or javari. The Sarod produces deep tones and is often used for solo performances in Hindustani classical music.

The Tambura is an essential drone instrument commonly used in both Hindustani and Karnatak classical music styles. It consists of four strings tuned to different pitches which create a continuous harmonic background for other musicians to perform over.

Moving on to wind instruments, we have the Shehnai -a double-reed oboe-like instrument made from wood or brass- famous for its soulful sound often associated with weddings and processions in North India.

Sarangi is another stringed instrument widely used in traditional Indian music forms such as Hindustani classical ragas. With its resonant tone resembling human voice qualities, it adds depth and emotion to any performance.

Lastly but not least important among these iconic names mentioned earlier comes Tabla; this percussion instrument comprises two drums: one smaller wooden drum called “dayan” (right-hand drum) played by fingers while sitting on top of it; and a larger metal drum called “bayan” (left-hand drum) played with the help of a wooden hammer. Tabla is known for its rhythmic versatility and dynamic range, making it an essential accompaniment in Indian classical music.

Which instruments are distinct to India?

The Gogona is a bamboo mouth harp that produces sound when plucked or struck with a stick. It is commonly used in folk music of Assam and other northeastern states of India.

The Ravanahatha is a string instrument played with a bow. It has origins in Rajasthan and is associated with the legend of Ramayana. The instrument consists of two strings made from horsehair attached to a resonator made from coconut shell or gourd.

The Pakhavaj is a double-headed drum widely used in classical Hindustani music. Its large size allows for deep bass sounds as well as intricate rhythmic patterns.

Khomok is another percussion instrument popular among the tribal communities of Northeast India. It consists of two pieces of wood held together by strings which produce sound when struck against each other.

Udukai is a small hand-held drum mainly used in South Indian folk music and religious ceremonies. It has a cylindrical shape covered with animal skin on both ends.

Tumbak or Dholki is an hourglass-shaped drum often seen during festive occasions like weddings and celebrations. It provides rhythmic accompaniment to various forms of Indian folk dance and music.

Kamanche belongs to the family of bowed string instruments found across Central Asia, including parts of India such as Kashmir. Its pear-shaped body gives it its distinct sound while being played using horsehair bows.

Sarod is one of the most prominent stringed instruments used in Hindustani classical music. With its distinctive fretless fingerboard and metal strings plucked using picks called “mezrab,” it creates soulful melodies during performances.

The most renowned instrument in India?

Pandit Ravi Shankar, a renowned musician and composer, played a pivotal role in introducing Indian classical music to the world. He is widely recognized as an emblem of this rich musical tradition, with his mastery of the sitar captivating audiences worldwide. Through his relentless efforts and dedication, Pandit Ravi Shankar successfully popularized Indian classical music on a global scale.

As an ambassador for Indian classical music, Pandit Ravi Shankar traveled extensively around the world to perform concerts and conduct workshops. His performances not only showcased his exceptional talent but also served as educational platforms where he shared insights into the intricacies of ragas (melodic frameworks) and talas (rhythmic patterns). This helped foster cross-cultural appreciation for Indian classical music among both musicians and enthusiasts alike.