North Indian Classical Bamboo Flute (Bansuri)
Bansuri is an ancient classical bamboo flute and musical instrument. It is made up of a single piece of a well seasoned special type of bamboo. As its name suggests Bans (Bamboo) and Suri (Swar). Bansuri means a piece of bamboo that produces melodious sound or musical Swara or musical notes. All bamboo does not produce a melodious sound. In India, only Assam bamboo (Northeast India) are mostly preferred for crafting Bansuri. Bansuri is synonyms as “Venu” in south India and “Flute” in English
Origin Of Classical Bamboo Flute
In nature insects and birds are designed to create several holes in the wood section.
In our ancient time, it was believed that natural sound of the flute was first observed when the wind blew through the dense forest where insects or birds have already created a hole in the trees (wood).
Further exploration, research, and development in the “Art of sound production” in flute have to lead to the form of flute that we see today. Based on the geographical location today we see the evolution of several variants of the flute across the globe.
Like Indian bamboo flutes, American Pan flutes, chines flutes, Japanese Shakuhachi flute, metal flutes, recorder, Arcylic flute, PVC flute and etc. Each one is unique and produces a characteristic sound In Indian mythology, Lord Krishna can not be imagined without the flute. He has been always portrayed with the flute. It was believed that his flute sound pleases all creatures of the world. Sometimes it becomes irresistible to get attracted towards his flute music.
What flute brings to your life
The flute is not just a piece of bamboo. It is a multipurpose manual instrument with its simplicity. Where you are a flute listener or player. It brings the following things to life.
Flute medication or treatment
Crafting a Bansuri
Crafting a single piece of bamboo into a melodious musical instrument is a tuff work. If you observe a bansuri, it looks a very simple instrument where a single piece of bamboo has several holes in it at a certain interval. However, as it looks very simple but in the real-world flute is a very complicated instrument. Starting from the selection of quality of bamboo to length, diameter, the distance between one to another hole varies from flute to flute.
Flutes are made from the natural pieces of bamboo. In nature, every bamboo does not have the same length, diameter, and quality. Therefore, each flute is uniques. Bringing all flute to same pitch or tune is extremely difficult. It requires a lot of ear training and experience in sound production. Today we have several acoustic instruments to check the tuning of flute. Think about how flutes were tuned in our old days.
Crafting a Flute goes through several processes. In brief, they are as follows.
Indian music is divided into two groups
- Selection of well-seasoned bamboo
- Length and diameter selection of bamboo
- Chopping of bamboo according to the scale of the flute
- Seasoning of chopped bamboo flutes
- Crafting blowing and finger holes of a flute
- Tuning of a flute by playing each note and sound testing (manually)
- Decoration (threading, coloring, waxing) and finning (sanding) of flute
- Carnatic music: mainly performed in the southern part of India.
- Hindustani music: mainly performed in the northern, middle, east and western region of India.
Flute player in Carnatic music is called as “Carnatic flutes” or ” Venu” whereas flute played in Hindustani music is called as “Hindustani flute” or “Indian classical flute”.
Carnatic flutes are small in length where as Hindustani flutes are small to bigger in length. Carnatic flutes have one blowing hole and 8 finger hole whereas Hindustani flute has one blowing hole and six finger holes.
Physics of Flute
Playing flute is a performing art. It requires understanding the physics behind the design of the flute. When a flute player blows a certain amount of air into the blowing hole. Air travels through the bamboo until it reaches an opening where it can exit. We will understand this by an example of Hindustani 6 hole flute. Consider a 6 hole flute.
The moment we blow into the flute. Air slowly travels through the close part of the bamboo. Where it also interacts with the wall of the bamboo or more precisely thing long fibers of the wood and reaches to the first hole where air exits and produces a particular sound. Suppose if we close the first hole then air travels little ahead and exits from the second hole and it produces another sound with little low frequency. Similar closing the next hole will reduce the frequency of the sound considering the blowing pressure and length of the bamboo are constant throughout this process.
From this example, we can say that as air travels the long distance it loses its frequency or energy that produces sound with various frequency. Understanding this concept explains the entire concept behind the flute. This concept has been demonstrated in my one the video. Please watch and understand the concept of physics behind flute.