The Indian flute has a very important place in traditional Indian music.
Developed separately from the Western flute, the flutes in India are quite simple compared to their Western counterparts.
The popular Hindu god, Krishna, is believed to be a master of the Indian bamboo flute, also known as the Bansuri.
Indian flutes are made of bamboo and are keyless.
One of the most legendary Indian flute players, Pannalal Ghosh, was the first to transform the tiny folk instrument into a bamboo flute suitable for playing classical Indian music.
This placed the Indian flute equal in stature to other classical music instruments.
The flute’s seventh fingerhole allowed the F sharp or teevra ma to be played which facilitated the glissandos (meends) in numerous traditional ragas.
Normally, when the Hindustani flute is referenced, the speaker is alluding to the large flute. Beginners, however, are recommended to start with a smaller flute.
If you are considering purchasing a flute, try to get help from an expert.
The holes are of different size and the spacing is not equal.
The distance between the index and middle finger holes on an Indian flute is shorter than the distance between the middle and ring finger. Furthermore, the size of the index finger hole is smaller than the hole of the middle finger.
There are a number of different fingering techniques used in India. Some people use the tip of the fingers to cover the holes.
Today most people use the middle of the finger to cover the holes.
This style was developed by Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.
People do not typically use the seventh hole when playing in this style.
This style also makes it easier to slide from one note to another.
The fingering system of a Hindustani flute is similar to that of an Irish whistle. But the Ma, or fourth note, is played differently.
Let’s take a look at the playing technique.
Place the mouthpiece in the center of your lips.
Turn the flute outward.
You should almost be able to feel the outer edge of the mouthpiece with your upper lip.
If the flute is not correctly positioned, you will not produce the desired sound.
If you turn the flute a little outward, the pitch goes up slightly; whereas if you turn it inward, the pitch goes down.
You can practice blowing on a pen cap to produce a similar clear sound on the flute.
Initially, this might be a bit hard, but slowly you will develop the necessary muscle memory to be able to play comfortably.
In addition to technique, intonation is also very important.
You must be able to produce the correct pitch with the help of a Tanpura or by ear.
You can practice with a standing tone to get the right pitch, using an electronic tanpura. If you turn the flute outward, the pitch goes up; whereas if you turn it inward, the pitch goes down.
Beginners should start by practicing on a small flute.
Place the mouthpiece between the lips and turn the flute outward.
To keep it simple, do not cover any finger holes in the beginning.