Punjabi Musical Instrument

By | July 28, 2016

Punjab has wide range of musical instruments used in folk songs and bhangra songs. Punjab’s folkal instruments go back many centuries. In the history of punjab they have left a great impression. If we look back at the ancient time then Bhai Mardana, the devotee of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, used to play ‘Rabab’ a punjabi instrument. Whenever guru g recite the Gurbani then they would say:

“Mardaneya, Rabab Vaja
Bani Ayi Aa”

Some musical devices are rare and difficult to find even. In cultural activities following are the instruments commonly used:

1) Algoze
2) Bugchu
3) Chimta
4) Dilruba
5) Dhadd
6) Dhol
7) Gagar
8) Gharha
9) Iktara
10) Kato
11) Khartal
12) Sapp
13) Sarangi
14) Tumbi

1) Algoze: Algoza is a double flute made from bamboo or wooden. One flute is used to generate soothing sounds and second one is used for drone. It works as the sample principle as used in bagpipes. It is not only used in punjab but also in Sindhi, Rajasthani and Baloch musician used this classic device to produce melody music. Algoza is also known as Nagoze, Satara, Do Nali, Pawa Jorhi, Johri and Donal. The musician must blow the continous flow of air in the both pipes simultaneously. To produce bouncing and swinging rythm there should be quick recapturing of breath is necessary. One can easily create low to high pitch tones with this magical instrument. The famous algoza musicians are Lt. Ustad Khamisu, Lt. Ustad Misri Khan Jamali and Akbar Khamisu Khan and Gurmeet Bawa who beautifully used this instrument.

2) Bugchu: It is the another folk device also spelled as Bughdu, Bugdu and Bughchu. It’s traditional device widely used in Punjab for different music such as folk or for folk dances like bhangra, Malwai and Gidha etc. It is simply made from wood and much similar like Damru. As its name bugchu it sounds much similar named “Bughchoo”. If we talk about its shape then it comes in the form of hourglass having skin stretched on the heads. A thick string or cord is paired in the center of th skin and a knob of wood is tied up on the other end of the cord. One can easily play this device by held in a crook of the arm and the string is also held in the same hand’s palm. Then the streched string make a solid voice.

3) Chimta: It is the percussion instrument commonly used by Punjabi people. This device is made from steel or iron. In this device music is produced by striking the both sides of chimta together, it has jingles which are made of metal thus by striking it generate the metallic music. It easily catch the beats of the song. It is also popular as the name of tongs. Chimta having small discs are used in rural area and with big jingles are used in big musical companies and bhangra team in their dance. In Sikh Religious it is used in Gurbani Kirtan.

4) Dilruba: This is the clever combination of sitar and sarangi. If we look back the history then there was a device known as Taus, designed and created by Tenth guru of sikh, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. It was very large and heavy instrument at that time which was a big issue for the sikhs to mobilize it for Saint Warriors so they presented their problem in front of Guru ji, upon the given permission of Guru Ji they scale down the size and design of taus and finally a new instrument came into existance known as ‘Dilruba’.

If we translate its name then it is “Robber Of The Heart”. It is fingerboard having frets similar like sitar and the belly is covered with skin like sarangi. It is usually played with Bow known as Gaj in punjabi. It has elliptical frets which are movable. The dilruba is held vertically, the lower portion on the lap of the musician or in front of him and the top resting against the left shoulder.

5) Dhadd: It is the wooden hourglass shaped instrument. The skin is streched on the head and tightened with ropes on both sides. It is also spelled as Dhad or Dhadh. Played by tapping finger on one of its sides. One can easily produce open and closed sounds with this device. It is commonly used by Dhadies who sing traditional ballads of brave worriors.

6) Dhol: It is the percussion musical instrument widely used in Punjab. In this age and days, it is used in modern punjabi music. The player of dhol is known as dholi in punjab and dhuliya in assam. Dhol is the double sided barrel drum which usually gives high beats for the folk songs like bhangra and gidha in punjab. Dhol is also used in folk dance Raas of gurjrat. If we look as it’s design then it has thick side at one hand to produces deep sound and thinner at other end to generate high frequency sounds. It is played with two wooden sticks made of bamboo or cane wood.

7) Gagar: The metal earthen pitcher is also used as a musical device in number of folk songs. The classical music is generated by the strikes of rings worn by players on gagar. It is used to produce rythmic beats.

8) Gharha: It is spelled as Ghara as a musical instrument. This earthenpot is used to generated music for folk songs and dances. It is played similar like gagar. The difference between gagar and gharha is that gagar is made of metal, whereas gharha is made of clay.

9) Iktara: It is the folk instrument used for drone and rhytmic accompaniment to folk songs. Its construction is very simple, it has gourd penetrated by a stick of bamboo. Iktar or Ektak means ‘one string’, so in this device only one string is used to generate music. Saint Mira Bai commonly used this instrument for devotion purpose.

10) Kato: In Punjab kato means Squirrel, she is the symbol of happiness so this device has the same design like a squirrel. Made of wood and ropes are used to generate the sound like low clap.

11) Khartal: It is the ancient device used in devotional as well as in folk songs. Also spelled as Kartal, Where Kar means Hand and Tal mean clapping. It is a wooden clapper having discs or plates that generate sounds of clinking when clapped together.

12) Sapp: Its another punjabi instrument made of wood with many X shaped Small parts. It is commonly played by expanding and collapsing with both hands. It makes very unique clapping sound.

13) Sarangi: It is short necked string instrument used not only in India but also in Nepal.

14) Tumbi: It is traditional punjabi string instrument. It can easily produce high and low tones. It is made of wood and skin is stretched over the bond and strings are attached with the wooden stick. The music is produced by retraction of the forefinger. The famous singers of punjab Mahiya, Challa, Jindua and Jugni used tumbi for folk music.

Content Credit : Mr-Punjab

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