India - More Indian Musical Instruments

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

More Indian Musical Instruments

Chitra Veena / Gotu Vadhyam

The Chitraveena which is also referred to as the gotuvadhyam is one of the most exquisite instruments. It is a 21 stringed fretless lute similar to Vichitraveena.

It contains a flat top, two resonant chambers, and a hollow stem of wood. While the right hand plectrums pluck the strings, the left hand slides a piece of wood over the strings.

It is one of the oldest instruments of the world and the forerunner of the fretted Saraswati Veena.

The word Jaltarang means "waves in water". The jaltarang is an interesting ancient musical instrument consisting of a series of tuned bowls arranged in a semicircle around the performer.

The bowls are of different sizes and are tuned precisely to the pitches of various ragas by adding appropriate amounts of water. The instrument is played by striking the inside edge of the bowls with two small wooden sticks, one held in each hand.

Jal tarang is not very common and is normally found in the accompaniment of kathak dancers.

The Morsing is a tiny instrument which is held in the left hand, the prongs against the upper and lower front teeth.

The tongue, which protrudes from the mouth, is made of spring steel. This is plucked with the Index finger of the right hand (backwards, not forwards) while the tone and timbre are adjusted by changing the shape of the mouth cavity and moving the tongue. Further control of the sound can be achieved with the breath.

Like the mridangam, the morsing is tuned to the Shruti and fine tuning is achieved by placing small amounts of bee's wax on the end of the tongue.

The Shank is one of the ancient instruments of India. It is also referred to as the sushirvadya which is associated with religious functions.

In India it is considered very sacred. It is being regarded as one of the attributes of Lord Vishnu. Before using, the Shankh is drilled in such a way as to produce a hole at the base taking care that the natural hole is not disturbed. In Athar¬Veda, one finds reference to Shankh, though it existed long, before. In Bhagvad Gita, during the time of war, Shankh had played an important role. It also has different names like Panch Janya Shankh, Devadatt Shankh, Mahashan Ponder Shankh and more.

Even in Valmiki's Ramayna, the mention of a Shankh can be traced. In the temples, Shankh is played in the mornings and evenings during the prayers. In homes, it is played before the starting of havan, yagnopavit, marriage, etc.

The Kombu is a wind instrument or a kind of trumpet which is usually played along with the Panchavadyam or the Pandi Melam or the Panchari melam. This musical instrument is like a long horn and is usually seen in Kerala state of South India.


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