We live in a world full of music. A chirping bird, a whistling wind, a drop of rain, or a huss of grass, everything has an instrumental touch to it. And when we talk about music and instruments, we have to land on the cultural capital, Rajasthan.
With the enormous and diversified heritage and culture Rajasthan has provided, one can never forget the contribution of the state in folk music and instruments. We as a generation may not be aware of the instruments that were popular and originated from our enriching state.
It’s time to dive right into the melodious history and know about strings and strands.
Ravanhatha is a bow and string instrument, usually made by the player itself. It is an important folk music instrument of Rajasthan made up of bamboo, coconut shell and is covered with a goat membrane and the strings are made up of horsehair. Ravanhatta players are called ‘Bhopas’. They belong to the Nayak, Bhil or Thori castes. It is also known as the ancestor of the violin.
Morchang, also known as morsing, is another very popular Rajasthani folk music instrument. To play this wind percussion instrument, the player has to hold it firmly in his hands and between the teeth and strike the metal tongue of the instrument with a free hand. The movement of the player’s tongue, blowing and sucking of air through the instrument produces different sounds. People who play Morchang are known as morsingists.
One of the oldest instruments in the world, Kamaicha is the heart and soul of Rajasthan’s folk music. The ancient instrument is made from a single piece of mostly seasoned mango tree wood and its round part is converted with goatskin. The bow is made from the wood of the Khejari tree and string from horsehair. It plays a crucial role in the vibrant music of the Manganiyar community, depicting the stories, Sufi tales and many more folklores with the help of this instrument. It is found more in the Jaisalmer-Barmer region.
Dedh Satara, popularly known as Alghoza is a woodwind instrument used in the folk culture of Rajasthan. There are 2 flutes, either tied together or sometimes loosely handed by the player in both hands and played together. Both the flutes differ in size and purpose so, the longer one is said to be the male and the shorter one is female. Also, one is used for melody and another one for setting the tone.
Sindhi Sarangi is a stringed instrument made of wood. This instrument is played with a bow. The whole instrument is carved out of a single piece of wood. It has four playing gut strings and twenty-two sympathetic steel strings. The strings are managed with the left hand’s fingernails and the bow runs from the right hand. This folk instrument is found in Rajasthan, majorly used by the ‘Langa’ Community of west Rajasthan as an accompaniment to their songs.
Naag Phani, a wind instrument made with bronze and metal, shaped like a snake at the end is a folk instrument, found in Rajasthan and Gujrat. The structure is defined as a bronze tube shaped like a serpentine bell. And the end has a snake-shaped head with a metal tongue hanging and is painted with bright colors. It is mainly used in religious and social ceremonies as a part of the procession in Rajasthan and in ritualistic social ceremonies and festivities in Gujarat.
Bhapang is a rare single-stringed instrument also known as a ‘talking drum.’ It is made from the hollow shell of the dry pumpkin. It is often played to accompany Bhajans, devotional songs and poetry. It is positioned under the armpit and plucked and then played. When Bhapang is played the musician grasps a wooden handle that is attached to a string. The same string is attached to the membrane. It originates from the Mewati community in the Alwar district. The Bhat community of Rajasthan also uses it.
A Khartal is a striking instrument that is mainly used for devotional and folk songs of Rajasthan. The word is derived from 2 words ‘kara’ means ‘hands’ and ‘tala’ means ‘music generated by clapping instruments. The instrument is made up of Sheesham aka teak tree. It is mostly made by the tribe called Langas and Manganiyaars of Rajasthan.
Well, music is a way of expression and it never fails to express the oy our heart and ear experience. Likewise, the Rajasthani folk music and instruments have lured us into their magical sound and there is no turning back. If you have a taste of music for folk instruments of Rajasthan, then yes you are among the few blessed ones!