Bansuri Flute-Steps Towards learning a Raga

“Raga” is Specific Melodic patterns of Indian Classical Music which needs Fingering, tonguing, blowing and different Ornamentation techniques to be played in a “Bansuri Flute” Moreover different applications of “Basic Classical Music Theories” must be Mastered with the help of a teacher/trainer or Guru if you want to play a “Raga” on “Bansuri Flute” . Nevertheless one needs mastery on time elements of Music: Different Taal, Rhythm and different tempos as well.

More or less, if the teacher is teaching the traditional manner, the steps towards learning raga are somewhat in this order:

  1. Blowing technique and holding the flute which includes closing and opening the holes with finger tips or the pads of the fingers.
  2. Playing the 7 notes correctly especially ‘Sa” in tune with the Shruti box or tanpura tuned for the flute you are playing. This would include blowing ONE note for long duration.
  3. Doing Alankars. Different combinations starting from simple to complex ones. Single speed and double speed. Then double of double speed. All in tune with the Shruti box/taanpura. A metronome to ensure laya(Tempo) is critical.
  4. Introducing Komal swaras(Different Half hole generating tones in Bansuri) And doing Alankars as mentioned above now with Komal swaras.
  5. Anytime in between the above steps, introducing Ragas ( Aroha, Avoraha, Vadi – Samvadi, time of the day for his raga,Thaat, Sthahi and Antra,Chalaan, Alap, Tihai, other details of the Raga)
  6. Now doing Alankars – simple and complex ones within the structure of the Raga.
  7. Introduce Taal and Laya into the playing.
  8. As we develop our clarity in the notes/ Alankars with Shudh and Komal swars, we are able to complex phrases in single, 2x and 4x speeds.
  9. By now all the notes should be produced with a mere “whispering” of breath. No force at all. All octaves and swaras need to be produced by the fingering only or narrowing of the hole formed by the lips. The force or breath remains unaltered.
  10. The ears are now getting more effective in recognizing dynamics of sound. Just as the eyes pick color, shape, size, depth, distance, height etc, so too the ears are becoming more and more sensitive .
  11. At all levels of the above mentioned training, various other aspects are taught – what is a Thaat, Jaati , Rules of. Raga, Gharanas, Structure of Alaap, Gayaki etc. and other terminology of the world of music. Just as one becomes a lawyer or a doctor or a engineer, he or she would now be getting more and more into the vocabulary of that field.
  12. Reading music or notations of songs and producing it on the flute in proper tune, melody and taal .
  13. At this point, the fingering has become so automatic that the flautist pays no attention to it at all and is totally guided by the songs wordings as it is played out in his mind.
  14. Then more and more Ragas are learnt.
  15. At some point the flautist starts the journey if mastery – Which is a quest to discover the next gap to cover or attain and now the quest is cause the emotions that Is the aim and intention in that piece if music.
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