As we gear up for Diwali, festive music continues to be a big part of our day. Thanks to India’s rich musical legacy, each region has its own folk instruments that we use to celebrate festivals, weddings, and more. Here are just a few folk instruments you should know about:
The nadaswaram is a South Indian wind instrument. It is one of the loudest non-brass acoustic instruments in the world, and said to be auspicious. It is a big part of weddings, festivals, and other temple ceremonies.
The Thavil is a South Indian percussion instrument from Thanjavur, in Tamil Nadu. It is a major part of Carnatic and folk music, and accompanies the nadaswaram. It is a major part of traditional ceremonies in South India, and is popular in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The shehnai is a popular wind instrument from North India. It is similar to the nadaswaram in the south, and marks celebrations like festivals and weddings. Because Bimillah Khan brought it to the concert stage, the shehnai is also a part of live shows today.
The dholak is a double-sided percussion instrument, and widely used in many parts of Northern India. You can play it three ways: standing, slung from the your shoulder, or held down on your lap. The dholak is a part of weddings, festivals, and other celebrations.
India is a country of music lovers. Each region has its own festivities, and music is an integral part of these celebrations. Today, as we gear up for one of the country’s most beloved times of year, it is a good time to learn more about the musical instruments that signal the celebrations. Our tip as music educators: Listen to some popular songs featuring each of these instruments, and see if you’re able to spot the differences
in sound and style.