Musical instruments of india

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  • Ankya drums are held horizontally before the musician and usually both sides are covered with animal hide.

  • Sound is produced by striking both sides with sticks or fingers.

  • Mridangam, Pakhawaj, Khol, etc. are prominent.

  • musician may sit on the floor and play the instrument or hang it from the neck while dancing or standing.

  • Seals which have been excavated of the Indus Civilization show figures of men playing the horizontal drums hung from the neck.


  • Oordhwaka drums are placed vertically before the musician and sound is produced by striking them with sticks or the fingers.

  • Prominent among these are the Tabla pair and Chenda.


  • drums have the animal hide fixed to a wooden round frame and are embraced or held close to the body with one hand while the other hand is used for playing on the instrument.

  • Duff, Dufflies, etc. are very popular.

Damaru types

  • instruments in this category range from, the small Huddaka of Himachal Pradesh to the larger instrument known as Timila of the southern region.

  • Huddaka is struck with the hands while Timila is hung from the shoulders and played with sticks and fingers.

  • also known as the hourglass variety of drums as their shape resembles an hourglass.


  • earliest instruments invented by man are said to be the Ghana Vadya.

  • Once constructed, this variety of instrument do not need special tuning prior to playing.

  • principally rhythmic in function and are best suited as accompaniment to folk and tribal music and dance.

Jhanj Player, Konarak, Orissa

Ghatam, Carnatic music of South India.

  • ghatam is an earthenware pot; the artist uses the fingers, thumbs, palms, and heels of the hands to strike its outer surface.

  • An airy low-pitch bass sound, called gumki, is created by hitting the mouth of the pot with an open hand.

  • artist sometimes presses the mouth of the pot against their bare belly, which deepens the tone of the bass stroke, and is another way to produce the gumki sound.

  • Different tones can be produced by hitting different areas of the pot with different parts of the hands.

  • The ghatam usually accompanies a mridangam.


  • Bharatnatyam dance - where one dancer takes on many roles in a single performance.

  • style was kept alive by the devadasis, who were young girls 'gifted' by their parents to the temples and who were married to the gods.

  • devadasis performed music and dance as offerings to the deities, in the temple courtyards.

  • As a solo dance, Bharatnatyam leans heavily on the abhinaya or mime aspect of dance - the nritya, where the dancer expresses the sahitya through movement and mime. 

  • varnam - most important composition of the Bharatnatyam repertoire, encompasses both nritta and nritya and epitomises the essence of this classical dance form. Dancer here performs complicated well graded rhythmic patterns in two speeds showing the control over rhythm, and then goes on to depict in a variety of ways, through abhinaya the lines of the sahitya.

  • After the strenuous varnam, the dancer performs a number of abhinaya items expressing a variety of moods.

  • bhava or rasa is woven into the sahitya and then expressed by the dancer. 

  • Bharatnatyam performance ends with a tillana which has its origin in the tarana of Hindustani music. The finale of the piece is a series of well designed rhythmic lines reaching a climax. The performance ends with a mangalam invoking the blessings of the Gods.

  • The accompanying orchestra consists of a vocalist, a mridangam player, violinist or veena player, a flautist and a cymbal player. The person who conducts the dance recitation is the Nattuvanar.

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