krishnabhandari.com
home » about bansuri

 

BANSURI ( INDIAN FLUTE)

Bansuri , Lord Krishna’s chosen instrument , is considered to be the most ancient and natural musical instrument. The word originates in Sanskrit “Bans” (Bamboo) + “Swar” (musical note). Other names for Bansuri are Bansi & Murli.

There are mainly two varieties of Bansuri, the transverse & the fipple. The fipple variety is usually played in Folk music and is held away from lips like a whistle. These flutes are also known as Algoza flutes. There are many other types of flutes some of which are known as Pawa, Nar etc. Because of the flexibility and control it offers, the transverse variety is preferred in classical music. The Bansuri is one of the three original forms of rendering Indian classical music according to ancient scriptures - vaani ( vocal), veena (String) and venu (flute). Bansuri is made out of one single length bamboo with a blowing hole, six fingering holes and one or two tuning holes. Sharps and flats are produced by unique fingering technique. Unlike string instruments, it does not need tuning once it is tuned by the flute maker. Although, there is no authentic record on origin of Bansuri, in Denmark bone flute made out of bone was found approximately 3000 yrs BC. As per the great poet Mahakavi Kalidas’s imagination , inspiration and fashioning of Bansuri to man came while listening to sweet notes generated by wind blowing through holes carved on dry bamboos by pests and insects.

In South India, flute was taken as accompaniment for vocalists as against Sarangi & Harmonium and even today in Karnatak music style Bansuri is also used as accompaniment but in north India, it was mainly used for folk and film music. The introduction of Bansuri in Modern Indian Classical concerts has been rather recent. It was the genius late Pt.Panalal Ghosh who elevated it to the status of concert instrument with his 32” long Bansuri. Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia further enhanced the Bansuri playing style with his innovative fingering and blowing techniques and took Bansuri Music to yet higher level. There are many famous Bansuri players viz late Pt.Panalal Ghosh, Late Pt.Devendra Murudeshwar, Pt.Raghunath Seth, Pt.Vijay Raghav Rao, Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt. Venktesh Godkhindi, Pt.Nithyanand Haldipur, Pt.Rajendra Prasanna, Pt.Ronu Majumdar to name a few.

INVENTING THE BAMBOO KEY:
There are two characteristics which make the “Khyal” style of singing so appealing. It is not only the musical presentation but also the words which help the vocalist create an impact on the mind of the listener. However, the tonal variety of the words in “Gayaki” style is not available to the flautist. Pt.Seth started playing the Massetkhani Gat style as long back as 1952, to imbibe various rhythmic patterns. Another major drawback of the flute is the difficulty to achieve the glescendo between fourth note (MA) and the fifth note (PA). With the result, Pt.Seth, as other flautists, had to resist from playing many ragas in which the glescendo was a must. Yet he did not give up hope. Being the experimentalist that he is, he did finally come up with a solution to this problem . He devised a bamboo key which enabled him to play all the ragas with equal ease. With the use of the key, flautists can glide from the lowest to highest note and vice-versa. Pt. Seth’s invention (the key) has received recognition from the press and musicologists. It has been adopted by many other established artists including Pt.Raghunath Seth’s Senior disciples Shri.Sunilkant Gupta and Shri.Krishna Bhandari.