Folk Instruments of Rajasthan
The Rajasthani musical instruments are essential in making the traditional music more melodious. Simple instruments are used with the songs and they are played with such expertise that the songs sound incomplete without them. Some of these instruments are self-sufficient. They are played individually i.e. without any lyrics. While some of them are made by people who play them others use make them for profit. For travelers Rajasthan offers exotic music that can completely stupefy them. The Rajasthani musical instruments can be classified into Percussion Instruments, Wind Instruments, Autophonic instruments and String Instruments. The materials used to make these are also picked up from day to day life. Today these very instruments are used for creating fusion music as well.
The most popular percussion instrument in Rajasthan is the dhol or drum. It is made out of wood. The two ends are kept hollow. These two ends have skin parchment on each side. It is stretched with the help of gut strips or strong cotton strips. The drum is played by hand on one hand and the other with a wooden stick to form the basic rhythm of the folk music of Rajasthan.
The smaller version of the dhol is the dholak. It is played on both sides with hands. Besides these there is the nagara. It consists of two drums made of metal iron or copper. Nagara are traditionally beaten with wooden sticks during marriage ceremonies, processions or other community dances. At the ceremonies the nagara is accompanied by tasha and shehnai. The Dhaf is used especially during holi, the festival of colors. This is a large tambourine consisting of a rim of iron or wood and a skin parchment. It is held in one hand and is played in a definite rhythm with the other hand.
The common wind instruments are Shehnai and Flute. Algoza is a double flute, which is played simultaneously. From a desert grass (rangore) a four-holed flute is made. Satara is an assembly of two flutes; one containing holes and in the other holes are absent. Another interesting wind instrument is the widely used by the snake charmers. The sound of this music can fascinate anyone. The snake charmers believe that it has a hypnotic effect. It is popularly known as Been or Poongi. Apart from flutes there are several trumpets that include Bankiya and Nagphani.
The Thali, a Metal Platter and Khartaal are the Rajasthani autophonic instruments. The khartaal is mostly used as backdrop for bhajans (devotional songs). In Rajasthan these are commonly used during the religious ceremonies. They also have historic significance as they would remind the Indians about the Bhakti Movement and Rajasthan was famous for Meerabai and other bhakti saints.
The well-known string instrument of Rajasthan is the Sarangi. This is a multi-stringed instrument that is played by using a bow drawn across the strings and running of fingers on the strings. The modern guitars have probably been modeled upon these. Kamaycha is another popular string instrument. Ravanhatta is also a kind of sarangi. Chautara and Bhapang are the other two kinds of string instruments.