How A Raga is Performed in “Bansuri Flute”

The Bansuri is a classical instrument on which generally classical music is played, although light music are also played on it. When we play light music on it we follow the tune of the song or music created by the music director only. But when we talk about the Bansuri without any special reference we mean classical music only. So, lets understand how music is played on Bansuri.

We Start from “ Aalaap”, which is introduction to “raga’. It is the opening out and spreading of the substance of a raga. It denotes the development of a Raga through improvisation in such a way that the ragas form and spirit are revealed.

Aalaap is spread in three octaves. here the artist shows his imagination and different permutation and combination of notes which are used in the raga within fixed rules.

Aalaap has three Part:

  1. Aaalap: Which has a Sthayee and a Antara part. The ‘Mandra’ and the ‘Madhya Saptak’ are being used in the Sthayee while ‘Taar Saptak’ is being introduced in the Anatara Part. This specific part actually being played in slower tempo.
  2. Jod: After finishing the Aalaap we start “Jod”. Jod is a technique in which actual rhythm is not played but it is very much in rhythm. Different tempos are used to play The Jod. First of all we start with slow tempo and gradually we increase the speed and play different “Taans” also. ( **Taan is the word that describes certain musical figures in which the notes have designs and patterns that grows in various speed esp. Double , triple, quadruple speed etc…) At a critical rate of speed the tempo of Jod is so fast that it takes the form of “Jhala”.
  3. Jhala: This fast paced section in Aaalap, this is the Jhala in which no rhythm is played but the Jhala itself is in rhythm.

After Playing the Jhala Tabla joins in

And we Play

  1. Vilambit Gat: Here the artist shows the mastery over the Raga and pours the notes in different melodious combination.

      Definition of Gat/bandish:

      Bandish, cheez or gat is a fixed, melodic composition in Hindustani vocal or instrumental music.It is set in a specific raga, performed with rhythmic accompaniment by a tabla or pakhawaj and a steady drone,

Sections of Gat/bandish

Sthāyī or Asthāyī: The initial phrase or line of a fixed, melodic composition.

Antarā: The first body phrase or line of a fixed, melodic composition.

Sanchāri: The third body phrase or line of a fixed, melodic composition, seen more typically in Dhrupad bandishes.

Aabhog: The fourth and concluding body phrase or line of a fixed, melodic composition, seen more typically in Dhrupad bandishe

  1. Drut Gat: Thereafter ‘Drut gaat” is Played. In “Drut Gat” the artist shows his command over the speed and tempo.
  2. Jhala: Gradually increasing the speed the artist finishes with Jhala.

All thru the Tabla accompaniment time, several other parts also being played i.e.

  • Tihayi: Tihayi is the technique that repeats a phrases three times to the accented beat of a Tala Cycle. It is used in transitions, improvisations and the finishing of the composition.
  • Mohara: It is the Concluding seal of a performance, sometimes done three times like a Hindustani tihayi. it is usually done in rhythmic display. the finish then feels conclusive and final.
  • Taan: (Described before**)
  • Layakari: Layakari is the play of multiples of the basic Laya or Tempo esp. used to improvise the Gat.

Article written by

Zubair Malik

Program Design and Development

Flute Training Centre

02. 07.2018