Updated: Mar 8
Indian musical instruments have a lot of varieties, be it different kinds of musical instruments for different genres as well as various traditional folk musical instruments originated from different parts of the country. India is a country with very rich cultural and musical heritage. Music has always been an integral part of Indian culture. The music of India can be divided into two genres, the hindustani classical music and the Carnatic classical music. Both these genres represent the two parts of India, the Northern and the Southern part respectively. Persian influence can be seen on the music of North India as well as on the musical instruments as the northern part of the country was under muslim rule for a long period of time.
Carnatic music is known for its very unique singing practices whereas hindustani classical music is famous for its instrumentalists. The difference in both the genres can be seen on the types of musical instruments used. Most commonly used Indian musical instruments in hindustani classical music are Sitar, Tabla, Flute, Sarangi, Sarod etc whereas most common instruments in carnatic music are Veena, Mridangam, kanjra, flute etc.
Besides both the genres of hindustani classical and carnatic music, various traditional forms of folk music originated from different parts of the country also influence the indian music. There are a large number of various traditional musical instruments of India which are now integral parts of the Indian music. Every state of the country has a rich musical heritage of its own. The style of music originated from Kashmir is very different from Assamese folk music. Similarly the “baul songs” from West Bengal are very different from the Maharashtrian folk songs. Besides folks, the variation in style can be seen in various devotional songs originated from different parts of the country. Every tribe has their own set of traditional musical instruments. The dhol, pepa, gogona of Assam that are used in Bihu songs , Khomok from West Bengal which is an integral part of Baul songs and the Ravanahatha from Rajasthani folk songs are some of the greatest additions to the rich Indian music.
12 very unique Indian musical instruments names with pictures:
1. Gogona: Gogona is a vibrating instrument that is an integral part of the traditional bihu songs of Assam. This instrument is made of a piece of bamboo that has a bifurcation at one end. The other end of the instrument is gripped with the teeth and the free ends are then struck repeatedly with fingers to get the distinctive sound of the gogona. ( source: wikipedia.com)
2. Ravanahatha: This instrument is used mostly by the Nayak tribe of Rajasthan. An ancient form of violin, this instrument is found mostly in Rajasthan as well as some parts of Srilanka. This instrument is also called sarangi in some parts of the country.
3. Pakhavaj: An instrument originated from the Indian subcontinent region, Pakhavaj is a standard percussion instrument in the dhrupad style and is used to accompany various forms of musical performances. This instrument has a low, mellow tone, which is very rich in harmonics.
4. Khomok: Khomok is a string instrument associated with baul music of Bangal is made up of dried gourd with a rubber drum attached at the bottom. This instrument now can be seen used in all forms of music of Bengal as well as Bollywood.
5. Udukai: Largely played in prayers and devotional music, this instrument is said to be originated from Tamil Nadu. As per Hindu mythology, this is the instrument of lord Shiva.
6. Tumbak: Originally from Persia, this instrument is an integral part of Kashmiri folk music. A hand drum that is placed on the thighs of the musician and is struck rhythmically using fingers and palm. Tumnak is one of the oldest instruments used in Indian music.
7. Kamanche: One of the world's oldest musical instruments, Kamache has been changed with its travel to different parts of the world. Kamache is said to be the predecessor of various old stringed instruments like the rabab, the chinese erhu and the Indian Sarangi.
8. Sarod: A plucked instrument with a skin-covered resonator and sympathetic strings. This instrument is comparatively very new with the existence of merely 200 years. Similar to sitar, this instrument is an integral part of Hindustani classical music.
9. Tambura: A long stringed instrument made of hollow wood with a wooden or guard regonator, tambura is used with other instruments to provide a drone pitch.
10. Mridangam: Mridangam is a percussion instrument which is used primarily to accompany rhythmically in a carnatic music session. In a carnatic music show, mridangam is mostly accompanied by Kanjira and Ghatam.
11. Ghatam: Ghatam is one of the most ancient musical instruments of India. Ghatam is basically a clay pot with a mouth. The pitch of Ghatam changes according to its size. Ghatam is made mainly of clay with copper or brass fillings with a small amount of fillings of iron.
12. Kanjira: Kanjira consists of a stretched skin pasted on a wooden frame. Tuning to various pitches can be done by wetting the skin. Kanjira is held at the bottom of the frame using the left hand and is beaten by fingers of the right hand.
Conclusion: Different genres with various musical instruments as well as various tribes having their own traditional musical instruments along with the folk musical instruments have a huge contribution to the rich heritage of Indian musical instruments.