instrumental music


Quite a good number of music fans love to learn music. One of the favorite instruments of a new music learner is guitar. Playing music on guitar gives a different feel altogether. But to play guitar, one needs to buy it. While professional guitarists know the details while going to purchase it but for amateurs ones, it might be slightly difficult. Choosing the guitar that perfectly suits one’s needs is definitely complicated.

 Guitar comes in a variety of types and even a minor glitch can adversely affect its performance. The first thing you need to pay attention to is the type of guitar you want to go for. Guitar could be electric bass guitar, steel-stringed acoustic guitar for folk and blues, a nylon-stringed acoustic for classical music, guitar for old rock and roll etc types. If you have any musician in your knowledge, it’s always better to take his advice. They can suggest you regarding what type of guitar will exactly suit your needs.

 One wonderful idea is to research on internet about different types of guitar and price guides. You can also check out guitar magazines. Many new learners prefer to buy second hand model. You should look for a well balanced body, a straight neck, frets that are smooth and flush.

 Try to play the guitar as this will give you an idea about the turning keys and also the sound quality of each string. If you are interested in electric guitar, check for any humming and cracking. Lastly, try out different models before finally selecting your favorite model.

Ravi Shankar is undoubtedly India’s most famous musical export to the west. Born on April 7, 1920, he has made a significant contribution in making Indian classical music popular in the western world. He is a legend in classical music and second to none when it comes to playing Sitar. One of the early movers, he dared to dream big and even collaborated with top music groups of west. The hidden gems of Indian music were unearthed by west thanks to the persistent efforts of Pandit Ravi Shankar. He is a winner of Padma Vibhushan, Magsaysay Award and two Grammy Awards.

 Pandit Ravi Shankar was born in holy city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. His elder brother was a renowned classical dancer and even went on to perform in Paris. This happened way back in 1930. Ravi Shankar’s inclination to join dance soon gave way to classical music and he started to learn sitar from no other than Allaudin Khan. His initial foray into classical music saw him joining IPTA and composing music for several ballets. He first stepped outside India in 1954 to perform in old ally Soviet Union. Apart from that, Ravi Shankar performed at famous places like Edinburgh Festival and Royal Festival Hall. His moment of truth came when he collaborated with legendary group, The Beatles. The fusion music created by him and George Harrison made Indian classical music very popular in west. Ravi Shankar has also won India’s highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 1999. He is a true legend in by every yardstick.

The violin is an integral part of Indian music. It’s a known fact that violin was relatively a late entry into south Indian classical music. Imported from western countries, violin started being an important part of South Indian classical music towards the end of the eighteenth century. Often, it’s played alongside Vina and other instruments as a secondary instrument. Violin was given a completely renewed respect in twentieth century. Several eminent performers have helped in making its popular and proved that Indians can play violin as good as any other musician in the world. Renowned violin performers are; T. N. Krishnan, and L. Subramaniam T. Rajam, L. Shankar, L. Vaidyanathan to name a few. Because of these maestros, violin has earned its deserved reputation as a South Indian solo instrument.

 

L. Subramaniam is credited to play violin with international musicians like, Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grappelli. In addition, he has played several orchestras with western musicians. L. Shankar has also collaborated with number of renowned western musicians and he was instrumental in inventing “double violin”. His performance with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain has earned many accolades

 

However, L. Subramaniam is more famous amongst the Indian violin players. He has conducted various shows including hugely successful ‘Fantasy on Vedic Chants’ performed at New York Philharmonic Orchestra alongside Zubin Mehta. His Global Symphony” performed at world famous Madison Square Garden in World Music Festival earned critical acclaim amongst global audiences. One of the lesser known fact about him is, he has also composed music for an Indian movie called ‘Salaam Bombay’ which was directed by Mira Nair.

Ravi Shankar has proved to be the most influential musician in western world. His concerts held in western auditoriums have always been sold out hits. Other noticeable performers with sitar are Vilayat khan and Nikhil Banerjee.

 

Apart from stringed instruments like Veena, Sitar, Sarod, and the lesser known Surbahar, Sursingar, Santoor, other instruments used in Hindustani music are Wind Instruments, bowed instruments and Percussion Instruments. Wind instruments include Bansuri (Bamboo Flute), Shehnai, and Harmonium whereas Bowed Instruments are;

Sarangi, Esraj (or Dilruba), and Violin. Percussion Instruments are Tabla, and Pakhawaj. Some of the famous Hindustani instrumental artists associated with different instruments are;

 

Sitar – Enayet Khan, Pt Ravi Shankar, Shahid Parvez, Vilayat Khan

Sarod – Allaudin Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

Surbahar – Imrat Khan, Annapurna Devi

Veena – Birendra Kishor Roy Chowdhury, Asad Ali Khan

Tabla – Chatur Lal, Alla Rakha, Pt.Kishen Maharaj, Zakir Hussain, Yogmaya Shukla

Slide Guitar – Brij Bhushan Kabra, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.

Vichitra Veena – Dr Lalmani Misra, Pt Gopal Krishna

Shehnai – Bismillah Khan

Santoor -Shivkumar Sharma, Omprakash Chaurasia

Sarangi – Ram Narayan, Ustad Sultan Khan

Esraj – Ashish Bandopadhyay, Ranadhir Roy

Violin – N.Rajam, Allaudin Khan, L.Subramaniam

 

Carnatic music players are;

Mridangam Players – Palghat Mani Iyer, Palani Subramaniam Pillai, Mannargudi Easwaran, and Guruvayur Dorai

Flute Players – N.Ramani, Thyagarajan, Mala Chandrasekharan, Sikkil Sisters

Violinists – Rajamanikkam Pillai, Papa Venkataramiah, T.N. Krishnan, M.S.Anantharaman

Ghatam Players – T.H. Vinayakam, N. Govindarajan


The main secondary instrument is violin but this useful and musical instrument always had high privileged position amongst the practitioners of music. Other percussion instruments normally used in carnatic music are mridangam, a double-conical, two-headed drum, basically used for rhythmical effect. Every instrument is associated with one particular practitioner of it. Like, shehnai is associated with Bismillah Khan whereas sarangi is associated almost exclusively with Ram Narayan. The names are associated primarily because they have achieved national and international fame courtesy their talents in playing that particular instrument. Interestingly, one of the concert halls in Tehran is named after Bismillah Khan because of his proficiency with shehnai. Shehnai is most commonly heard in north Indian marriage functions.

 

Other famous players include, Zakir Hussain, an internationally admired tabla player. He is also credited to collaborate with several western musicians and produced many fusion recordings.   There have been many notable tabla players, but a phenomenon unto himself has been Zakir Hussain, who has also combined with various western musicians to produce many “fusion” recordings. To showcase his real talent just a single fact will suffice and that is tabla is basically an accompanying instrument but he has performed many solo performances. Shiv Kumar Sharma is renowned for his Santoor playing skills. Santoor is a Kashmiri folk instrument with more than 100 strings. He brought this instrument in the focus of classical music on the sheer strength of his talent.  

The most popular and used instrument in North Indian or Hindustani music is generally either the sitar which has a long-neck fret lute, or the sarod. Later one is a plucked lute sans any frets and it also has a relatively shorter neck than the sitar. There are several other stringed instruments as well which are heavily used in this genre of music. The list includes Surbahar, similar to sitar albeit a bit larger and sarangi, another short-necked bowed lute.

 

Hindustani music also uses several wind instruments like Bansuri and Sehnai. Bansuri is a flute made of bamboo and it is played using holes in its side. It has approximately six or seven holes which are blown from the side and that action produces that magical sound. Whereas Sehnai has no keys and it is played straight up by blowing it from the top. Other notable instruments are Tabla and Tanpura. Tabla is sort of small drums, in a pair. These two combined with other mentioned instruments provide that soothing music in any concert. All of them have this rhythmic connection with each other.

 

Talking about Carnatic music or South Indian music, most used instrument is Vina. It has seven strings and a long neck with fretted plucked lute. In carnatic music Bansuri and Sehnai is replaced by Vina and Nagaswaram respectively. Nagaswaram is a double reed instrument with finger holes.