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  • Topic: Bansuri, Flute, Hindustani classical music
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  • Published : December 25, 2012
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Bansuri
Welcome to indianflutemusic.com, your gateway to the classical music of northern India. Enjoy!  --Kerry Kriger
Bansuri: The Bamboo Flute of Northern India
The bansuri is a transverse (side-blown) bamboo flute from northern India. It is one of the world's most ancient instruments, having existed in more or less its current form for about 4,000 years. This site is dedicated to the bansuri, and to the classical music of northern India (Hindustani Sangeet: the raga), as the two in combination can produce music unparalleled in its beauty. You are now listening to Kerry Kriger playing alap in Darbari. Compositions for Bansuri

My brand new 205-page book "Compositions for Bansuri" will soon be available exclusively at indianflutemusic.com! It features 195 pages of compositions that were taught to me directly by India's great flute master Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao. The book is an invaluable resource for anybody interested in Indian Classical Music, regardless of instrument or experience. Please sign up for the Indian Flute Musicmailing list so I can keep you informed when it becomes available. Bansuri Basics - Getting a Sound

This is the most important aspect of playing the bansuri, and the one that makes 99% of potential bansuri players quit on day one! It may take several days before a new player can get a consistent sound, but once you have it, you have it forever, so fight through the first few days! To get a sound, touch the mouth hole to the point half-way down your lower lip, and blow air basically across the top of the hole, almost as if half the air is going into the hole and half over it. Do not attempt to cover more than the first couple holes, for if any hole is not entirely closed you will get no sound whatsoever! I recommend covering only one or two holes at first, or none at all. To balance the flute when no holes are closed, use both thumbs and your right pinky. Your mouth serves as the 4th point of balance. Notes in Indian Classical Music

Indian music does not used a fixed tonic. Thus while the pitch of "A" in western music is ALWAYS set to 440Hz, the first note of an Indian scale can be any pitch, and all other notes in the scale will be relative to that note. Two benefits of this system are that (1) one can play a given melody (raga) using the same fingerings on any size (pitch) instrument - the entire melody shifts up or down in key, but the feeling produced is the same; and (2) it allows the notes in Indian Music to be based on "just temperament" as opposed to the "equal temperament" scales employed in Western Music. In essence, Indian notes are based on naturally occuring overtones and are thus "pure", while the key changes required by Western Music, require scales with notes that are somewhat compromised. Thus the notes of the chromatic scale are:

S - Sa (the tonic, 1st note of any scale; played from any pitch!) r - komal Re (the flat 2nd; "komal" means flat, or literally sweet) R - shudd Re (natural 2nd; "shudd" means natural, or literally pure) g - komal Ga (flat 3rd)

G - shudd Ga (natural 3rd)
m - shudd Ma (natural 4th)
M - teevra Ma (sharp 4th; "teevra" means sharp, or literally strong) P - Pa (the 5th)
d - komal Dha (the flat 6th)
D - shudd Dha (the natural 6th)
n - komal Ni (the flat 7th)
N - shudd Ni (the natural 7th)
S - high Sa (an octave above Sa; would be written with a dot over it to denote high octave; conversely, notes in the low octave are written with a dot underneath them.) Notice that each note has only one name! This is as opposed to Western Music (where a C sharp is the same as D flat for instance), and it makes things far less confusing. Notice also that the higher version of each note is capitalized. There is another method of writing note names, which is to capitalize all notes, but denote flats by underlining the letter, and to denote a sharp (teevra Ma is the only sharp note), with a vertical bar above the note. Bansuri Basics - Playing the Notes

The first note...
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