A bansuri is a side-blasted flute from the Indian subcontinent.
It is an aerophone constructed from bamboo and used in classical Hindustani music. It is referred to in the Rigveda and other Vedic texts of Hinduism as Nadi and tunava. In the Sanskrit text Natya Shastra, its meaning and activity are discussed.
A bansuri is usually made with six or seven finger holes from a single hollow shaft of bamboo. Some modern designs are available in ivory, fibreglass, and different metals. Two and a half octaves of music are covered by the six-hole instrument. Usually, the length of the bansuri is between 30 centimetres (12 in) and 75 centimetres (30 in), and the thickness of the human thumb. One end is closed, and its blowhole is a few centimetres from the closed end. Deeper tones and lower pitches feature longer bansuris. The typical design features no electronic keys, and by tapping the different finger holes, the musician produces the notes he needs.
In ancient Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain temple paintings and reliefs, the bansuri-like flute is depicted and is popular in the Hindu god Krishna’s iconography. It is intimately connected to Krishna and Radha’s tale of devotion.
As the sacred instrument of Lord Krishna, the bansuri is worshipped and is always associated with Krishna’s Rasa Lila dance. Often these legends use alternative names, such as the mural, for this wind instrument. Among other cultures, such as Shaivism, the instrument is also popular, however. The early medieval Indian texts also refer to it as va’śi, while this transverse flute was called wangsi or bangsi in medieval Indonesian Hindu and Buddhist arts, as well as temple carvings in Java and Bali dated from the pre-10th century period.
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In bans [bamboo] + sur [melody], the term bansuri originates.The Sanskrit word va-śi, derived from the root va-śa meaning bamboo, is a phonetically related term for the same instrument in early medieval texts. A flute player is called vamsika in these medieval texts.
Bansi, eloo, kulal, kulalu, kukhl, lingbufeniam, murali, murli, nadi, nar, pawa, pullankuzhal, pillana grovi, pulangoil, vansi, vasdanda, sipung, and venuvu are other regional names of bansuri-style, six to eight playing holes, bamboo flutes in India. The instrument, under the name of Bām’surī, is also used in Nepal.
More complex designs have been developed by ancient regional inventions, such as those in the Himalayan foothills of India, such as the algoza, which is a “twin bansuri” in different keys built as a single instrument, enabling the musician to play more complex music. A similar invention is called nagoza or mattiyaan jodi in Central and South India, and the single and twin flute designs are depicted by Buddhist stupa reliefs in central India from around the 1st century BCE.
Bansuri is traditionally made of a special type of bamboo, which naturally grows between its nodes to long lengths (knots). These grow abundantly with high precipitation in the Himalayan foothills up to about 11,000 feet. These are particularly found in India’s northeastern states (near Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura) and Western Ghats (near Kerala), where numerous bamboo species grow with internodal lengths greater than 40 centimetres (16 in).
To reinforce it, the harvested bamboo of the desired diameter is cut, dried, and treated with natural oils and resins. When ready, the artisans investigate the smoothness and straightness of the dried hollow tube and weigh it. They mark the exact locations of the holes, then use various diameters of hot metal rod skewers to burn in the holes. Drilling and other hole making techniques are avoided because it is assumed that the direction of the fibre is weakened and the splits affect the quality of the music. To stabilize its shape and shape over time, the burnt-in holes are then completed by sanding, one end plugged, the flute ringed at different positions, and the device tested for its musical output.
A finger-distance hole’s from the mouth-hole and the finger-diameter hole’s influence the note it plays. The artisans make changes to the diameters of different holes to attain the purity of the generated musical notes. Tone, range, and octave tuning are determined by the wall thickness of the bansuri. The bansuri is steeped in natural oils, washed, dried, and decorated or bound with silk or nylon threads when all the holes have reached their output range.
There are two forms of bansuri: transverse and fipple, respectively. The flute is commonly played in folk music and is held like a tin whistle on the lips.
Usually, a bansuri is carried horizontally by the bansuri player, slanting down to the right. The outer finger holes are covered by the thumb, middle, and ring fingers of the right hand, while the rest is covered by the same fingers of the left hand. The thumb and little finger support the bansuri, while the airhole is located near the lips, and the air is blown over it at varying speeds to achieve the desired octave. The little finger (pinky) of the right hand is normally employed for the seven-hole bansuri.
The sound of a bansuri is created from the resonance of the air column within it, as with other air-ordered wind instruments. The length of this column varies, with a variable number of holes being filled or left open. To play flat or minor notes, half-holing is used. The ‘sa’ note is obtained by covering the first three holes from the blowing-hole (on the Indian Sargam scale, or equivalent ‘do’ on the octave) note. By manipulating one’s embouchure and regulating the blowing power, octaves are varied. Bansuri players either use fingertips or finger pads to partially or completely cover the tap holes.