More often than not when we think about Indian music we tend to think the classical melodies and instruments associated with it. However that’s not the case, India is a diverse country and so its musical heritage. Here traditions go way beyond classical melodies. From the enchanting folk beats to the spiritual aura of devotional tunes, and the electrifying vibe of popular music and the list may go on and on. However, in this blog we will look into some of the most popular musical instruments that go beyond the classical genre and how these instruments came into being and made its place in the heart of the rich culture of Indian heritage. 

1. Folk Music Instruments:

Dholak – The Rhythm of Celebrations:

Picture this – joyous occasions, colorful motifs, and people coming together in dance and merriment. That’s what the dholak brings to the table! This double-headed drum has been around since ancient times, used in tribal rituals, and now it’s the heartbeat of festivities and celebrations across India.

Ektara – The Melodic Wonder:

Although functioning similarly to a one-stringed guitar, the ektara is identified by its small stature and portability. Centuries-old practice that revolves around performing traditional music and sharing tales of passion and sorrow. Travelers traditionally carried their handmade instruments, such as the ektara, wherever they went, and during stops along the route, they would perform songs for villagers to enjoy.

Ghatam – Earthy Rhythms:

This clay pot-like instrument which is also known as the ghatam, has been an integral part of South Indian folk music for centuries. Its earthy hues and sonorous qualities increase the folk music experience immensely. It is frequently complemented by classic instruments such as the flute and veena. 

Sarangi – The Soulful Charm

The sarangi, with its rustic charm, is a bowed string instrument that has been cherished in Indian music for centuries. Its deep, resonant timbre and the ability to evoke emotions with remarkable agility have made it a favorite among classical musicians and folk artists alike. With its delicate frame and intricately carved wooden body, the sarangi serves as a vessel for the musician’s heart to pour out in melody.

2. Devotional Music Instruments:

Harmonium – The Soul Stirrer:

Center stage belongs to the harmonium in the world of devotional tunes. With origins dating back to colonial era, this tradition has since been incorporated into the essence of Hindu and Sikh religious rituals. Its melodious tunes enhance the ambiance during religious songs, deeply moving listeners.

Sitar – A Divine Touch:

Ah, the sitar! It is impossible to discuss Indian classical music without bringing up this quintessential instrument. But guess what? The sitar’s versatility extends beyond traditional music genres. The entrancing sounds and tones weave a divine spell that carries listeners on an otherworldly spiritual quest.

Tabla – The Heartbeat of Worship:

The tabla holds center stage during devotional performances. The enthusiastic duo of hand drums contributes to the melodious ambiance of devotional songs and chants. The tabla fosters a fully engrossing and spiritually moving atmosphere, allowing devotees to connect with their inner selves.

3. Popular Music Instruments:

Electric Guitar – The Modern Icon:

Ready to rock? Electric guitars breathe fresh inspiration into traditional Indian music. Introduced in the 1960s, it has skillfully combined with Bollywood numbers and rock tunes, resulting in a prominent place in the current Indian musical panorama.

Synthesizer – The Sonic Magician:

Say hail to the wonder instrument of contemporary music! By manipulating sonics and mixing styles, it presented a boundless universe of options for musicians and composers to concoct enchanting sounds and grooves.

Drum Kit – Making Everyone Dance:

The drum kit injects the party with enthusiasm and vitality! From lively Punjabi melodies to catchy Bollywood songs, its energetic tempo entices everyone to move along with its irresistible rhythms.

This was a brief overview of the alluring world of Indian musical instruments beyond classical norms. From soulful folk songs to uplifting devotional tracks and energetic popular hits, every instrument weaves an individual narrative that resonates deeply with music lovers globally. Let’s honor the diverse cultural music of India by treasuring these instruments. Be sure to tune in for our next musical post. Till then take care.