Traditional Music Instruments of Uttarakhand

Pahadi music has a special appeal not only within the state but also throughout the country. The traditional pattern of Pahadi music has survived throughout the ages and entertained not only the common people in this state but lovers of music and art throughout the country.

LET’S GET INTO TUNES OF PAHAD

Traditional Musical Instruments of Uttarakhand reflect the values of Uttarakhand people. The famous musical instruments are, Dhol, Damau, Hurka, Turturi or Turhi, Binai Mushak Been or Bagpipe, or Flute these are the most famous in Uttarakhand. Folk dance and music both require the help of several musical instruments that lend the former their characteristic simplicity and regional touch and make them more enchanting. These instruments form the soul of folk dance and music.

Uttarakhand’s traditional musical instruments are quite simple but unique into the emotions they evoke. Some commonly seen musical instruments are as follows

1.DHOL DAMAU

Dhol Damau or dhol Damaun is the term used to collectively refer to two folk instruments of Uttarakhand and lower Himachal Pradesh, the Dhol and Damau, which are almost always played together on special occasions; though they may be played separately.

The two instruments play a vital role in the lives of villagers, who often live in remote valleys of the region, and every important event is accompanied by their playing, which is considered auspicious. 

They are played according to the ancient oral treatise of Dhol Sagar that lists specific rhythmic patterns for every occasion, from celebrating birth and christening to religious ceremonies, folk dramas like Pandav Nritya, and Death Rituals. Traditionally, they have been played by specific caste groups like aujibajgidas or dholi.

2.MUSAK BEEN

This well-known Scottish instrument was introduced in Uttarakhand by the British army some 200 years back around the Anglo-Gorkha was of 1814-15. Now it is an inseparable part of folk music and dance. This testifies the receptivity and addictiveness of the local people.

In the central Himalayan region of Garhwal in Northern India the masak baja is an important part of rural wedding ceremonies. The masak baja is played to process with the groom on their way to and from the bride’s village. The masak and its accompanying instruments has a very specific tone which send a clear message across the audible area that a wedding is taking place.

3.TURTURI OR TURHI

A traditional Kumaoni wind-instrument which is played during a social ceremony in Uttarakhand. Its blowing is generally accompanied by the beating of a traditional DrumDamau or Damama. Measuring up to 15 inches in length, this particular instrument is crafted using either copper or bronze as the main material, and is designed in the shape of a coiled snake.

4.HURKA

The immense beats of the hurka are heard in almost every song or dance performance in Uttarakhand. It also finds mention in Bharat Muni’s ‘Natya Shastra’ – the first treatise on theatrical forms. This is a percussion instrument and can be played solo or with other instruments like the flute, brass plate or bagpipe.

The Hurkiya are a small endogamous community found in the Kumaon region, where they are also known as Mirasi. They derive their name from an instrument the hurka, a tiny hand drum which they played, while their women danced. According to their origin myths, the Hurkiya were originally settled in the Gangolihat area of Pithoragarh District, from where they spread to other parts of Uttarakhand.

5.MURLI OR FLUTE

Muruli or flute has been an integral part of the lives of shepherds and cattle grazers in Uttarakhand. They have created a number of folk tunes while grazing cattle in the jungles or meadows. The ever-enchanting landscapes undoubtedly provided the inspiration to create new tunes on which some folk songs are based.

bansuri is traditionally made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes. The traditional design features no mechanical keys, and the musician creates the notes they want by tapping the various finger holes.

6.RANSINGHA

Ransingha is an aero phonic folk musical instrument used in Uttarakhand.it is a type of primitive trumpet made of copper or copper alloys, used in both uttrakhand,himachal and Nepal. The instrument is made of two metal curves, joined together to form an “S” shape. It may also be reassembled to form a crescent.

It has its origin on the battlefield. It is believed that when the deities won over the demons, Ransingha was played to celebrate. Furthermore, it is made of copper and produces all the musical notes chromatically. Ransingha is mostly played in folk rituals, folk song programs, and folk dramas.

7.BHANKORA

Bhankora or bhonkara is Uttarakhand’s native musical instrument. This is handmade in copper metal by local Tamta artisans of Uttarakhand traditionally. It is a type of trumpet made of copper that is prominently used in the folk music of Uttarakhand in India, especially in the Garhwal region. The instrument is aerophonic and used specifically in religious Garhwal Folk Dramas, most notably the Pandav Lila and Nanda Devi Raj Jat. The instrument is played only by upper class Garhwalis during the Naubat, Dhanyal, and Dev Jatra types of religious ritual performances. The bhankora is made of copper and is about 36 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter; it creates a sweet, melodious sound and tone.

Bhankora or bhonkara is Uttarakhand’s native musical instrument. This is handmade in copper metal by local Tamta artisans of Uttarakhand traditionally.

It is a type of trumpet made of copperthat is prominently used in the folk music of Uttarakhand in India, especially in the Garhwal region. The instrument is aerophonic and used specifically in religious Garhwal Folk Dramas, most notably the Pandav Lila and Nanda Devi Raj Jat. The instrument is played only by upper class Garhwalis during the Naubat, Dhanyal, and Dev Jatra types of religious ritual performances. The bhankora is made of copper and is about 36 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter; it creates a sweet melodious sound and tone.

The size of Bhankora varies from region to region. However, traditionally the ideal height of full sized bhankora is supposed to be from ground till the ears of a normal-sized person.

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