Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bansuri Flute - Learn to play the Indian bamboo flute


The aim of this blog is to promote the Indian bamboo flute in the UK and around the world and to give all players and people interested in the bansuri a place to learn about the flute, meet others who are passionate about the bansuri and share knowledge. This blog also aims to point learners in the right direction helping them to get the best out of their learning experience, avoiding pitfalls and advising all players of the best places where to learn and buy bansuri flutes.


Remember that anyone can learn to play the bansuri - you need a passion for music, a lot of time and patience. You will not become a master in a short period of time - there is a lot to learn and even if you don't become a professional, it doesn't matter because you will still have played one of the most beautiful instruments in the world and playing the bansuri is like meditating - it takes you to another world and helps you become completely relaxed and at peace with yourself. 


If you have never heard of the bansuri, then below you can listen to the videos and read about the history of this beautiful instrument. Please use the side menu to learn where to buy flutes, learn to play and much more. ENJOY!



My own improvised recording one evening





Other recordings





ABOUT THE BANSURI
The bansuri is one of the most simple instruments you can imagine and definitely one of the most natural. It is made from just a single shaft of bamboo with 6 or 7 finger holes (excluding the blowing hole). The instrument is also one of the most ancient instruments used in India and is associated with cowherds and the pastoral tradition. References to the bansuri are found in the texts of the 3000 year old holy scriptures of the Hindus; the Vedas. 
The bansuri is considered to be divine and is intimately linked to lord Krishna and Radha. It is believed that when lord krishna played his flute, the beautiful sound had a spellbinding and enthralling effect not only on women but also on animals. Krishna is most often depicted with this flute in Buddhist paintings dating back 2000 years. 
The bansuri was originally about 14 inches in length and used mostly in folk music and for accompaniment in lighter compositions including film music, however the longer, deep pitched flutes were pioneered more recently by Pannalal Ghosh and made even more popular by Hariprasad Chaurasia. This has lead to the bansuri being made an important instrument in both classical and modern Hindustani music.
Bansuri literally means "bamboo musical note" from the Sanskrit "bans" (bamboo) and "swar" (musical note).
The bamboo used to make bansuris must be of a special kind (as it needs a long node) found only in certain regions such as Assam and Kerala in India, but also in other areas such as the bamboo found in Myanmar or Hawaii. Nonetheless, Assamese bamboo remains the most popular bamboo.


41 comments:

  1. Hello Craig, your website is quite useful..sir I am a self guided Flute player for last 4 months, i could play it welll now. The bansuri i have , got it from a music shop in Delhi worth Rs. 250. but now i want to take a step ahead with buying a new professional Bansuri. Sir whom do you recommend between Anand Dhotre and Ramesh (Flute Maker). Sir i am waiting for your reply

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    1. Craig - Bansuri UKMay 13, 2012 at 3:23 PM

      Hi! I highly recommend Anand Dhotre. All the flutes I have from him are excellent.
      Ramesh's flutes are also good but he has sent me flutes that have been out of tune in the past and he takes a long time to send them sometimes.
      I have been most impressed with Anand's flutes. You should send him an email. Tell him also that I recommended him to you fit great flutes. I am sure you will be happy with his flutes.

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    2. I want to learn Basuri. I have purchased one from delhi. I don't have any knowledge about Basuri. Shop owner gave me 'A-Tune' type flute and I don't know what it is means. Is it right flute for very beginner. Please guide me in this.

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    3. I am a Flautist. I belong to the Allahabad Gharana. I have been taking private classes in Delhi since 2 years.

      Contact me if you have the urge to learn Hindustani Classical Bansuri.
      Id - musicanaflute@gmail.com

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  2. thanks a lot Craig and to reply me so fast. Hmm i called them up both, Ramesh's flutes are a bit cheaper..so i was thinking to buy, but now i will collect more money and buy it from Anand. Great . Which one should i buy, G or F . or should i go for E Flute. thing is i don't have musical background. Bansuri has just enthralled me. because of my passion i have learnt it quietly. i am sure its just the begining part of this life learning instrument. I have bought one book, practising ornaments/Alankaars. even i can just listen to a song, and can play it not that well and improvised, but yeah i can copy notes very well.. hahahah. Sir can u tell me that how should i improvise ragas. I am just going to move to Delhi and Mumbai soon to learn it from Guru. anyways thanks a lot. Be in touch.

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    1. Hi :-)

      Good choice with Anand :-)
      G, F and E bass are all good keys to play in. E bass is of course the standard flute used by most bansuri players in concerts but the holes are far apart and this makes the E bass flute not a good one to begin with because you must train your fingers to stretch slowly. If you do not do that slowly, there is a risk you might cause yourself damage.
      G is a great flute to begin with because the holes are closer together and you still get a nice "bass" sound. It depends also on your hands. If you have big hands, you might be able to start with an F even, but I think G would be my first recommendation and then after, when you are comfortable with G, you can begin playing with the bigger flutes.

      For improvising ragas, this is not something I can explain easily here but you should start with ragas that are easy to improvise in such as Hamsadhwani or Bhoopali. Both these raags use the same notes in ascent and descent and so you can make patterns easily.
      You should definitely seek a guru for learning this skill as there are many many patterns and you must train your mind.

      Happy bansuri playing :-)

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  3. A very helpful blog.. Dedicated to Bansiri. Kudos to you Craig :-)

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    1. Craig - Bansuri UKMay 14, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      Thank you Ashish :-)

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  4. Thanks a lot Sir, i really appreciate the way you reply to queries. i am definitely going to buy from Mr. Anand. I probably would seek his advise also of buying between F and G. Yeah i am definitely going to Delhi/Mumbai to learn. I hope one day i get to perform with you also. Enjoy the divinity of Bansuri. I will be in touch. Great time

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  5. Patterns, you are talking about, are the Grace, Meend, Vibrado etc. right?

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  6. By patterns I mean alankaar - sequences of notes.

    for example going up in 3s PDN DNS NSR SRG RGM.....
    OR
    going up in 4s PDNS DNSR NSRG SRGM.....

    There are many many possible combinations. You can go up in 2s, use double notes, up however many notes and down in however many. But you must learn to do this with each raga you learn and stick to the rules of that raga. A guru can help you with this and over time you will develop your own improvisations.

    You can then also combine these patterns with different types of ornamentation to make your music as beautiful as possible.

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  7. wow.....i have practised these alankaars, and still practising.. but i cant wait to play on Professional G scale Bansuri, which i will get from, Mr. Anand soon.. I will practise more and soon will find a Guru. Thank you much Craig.. I will keep inquiring from you till i find a Guru. Thanks a lot...

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  9. Hey Craig, i bought Bansuri from Mr. Anand, which is G#, and i am very happy about it, its so beautiful. I am overwhelmed with your reply, you know one thing, My Guru who plays harmonium and does Keertan at gurudwara here in Punjab. Can you please tell me that how should i practice Sargam(Alankaar), with harmonium or by my own, because when i tune it with Harmonium as My guru said, (because he doesnt have knowledge about bansuri,) so i just go there to strong my breath and have knowledge about Classical Music. So there i practice, but problem is i have to really blow softer, very softer than normal blow as we exhale normally. and sound doest come nice, beause i really have to blow it verrry soft. What should i do, shoul i practise with normal breath and keep blowing harder as i go to high notes, keeping under Sur can you please help me with this issue...

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  10. Hi again!

    Do you mean that you are having problems getting a good sound in the upper octave? - so the high notes? Is that what you mean?

    In any case, you can play blowing softer or normal but you must keep in tune - that is the important thing. Whether you play soft, normal or loud - this is just the style you play! As long as it is in tune, it does not matter.
    When you play high notes, you should not blow harder, but try learning to make the high notes sound as soft as possible. It can take a lot of time to learn this - maybe even years! Some people learn faster than others.

    I'm not totally sure what your question is. If I have not answered it let me know.

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  11. PS; I'm very happy that you are pleased with your flute :-)

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  12. hmmmmmm thanks Craig...but my question is that to tune with Harmonium is the right thing?, Because some experts say that we should not tune with Harmonium....Now thing is that when I start playing lowest-highest note on Bansuri. I can play it very well with required breath and get the lowest Pa without getting airy. But When it comes to tune with Harmonium i have to blow really really softer, to make it sound like Harmonium. Others nealy could listen to it. i hope i have made it clear and you can suggest me, or do i need to tune with other insruments..or i can paste my video playing Alankar, and you can tell me right?
    nyways

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  13. i am getting a good sound on Lowest note so as the highest note. Sometimes Taar Notes get airy, i am sure it will take some time to get used to my new Bansuri. I am sure i am applying the required breath. When tuning with Guitar i apply normal air pressure, and it sounds tuned with it, but with harmonium i have to blow really softer as if i am swallowing half of the air inside. How do i know that my bansuri is in tune or out of tune. Suggest me somthing Craig. I would really appreciate

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  14. Hello Craig, how do i know exactly that my bansuri is in tune? I mean i am playing the right notes with right blow?

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  15. Hi!

    Sorry for the delay. I was busy this week. So, traditionally it is not common for bansuri players to play with the harmonium and I must confess that I have no experience in playing the bansuri with the harmonium myself and I have never seen a bansuri player play with the harmonium.
    It all depends how the harmonium, to which you refer, is tuned also. Is it tuned according to Western equal temperament or just intonation (Indian scale with 22 srutis)? I notice that many Indian harmoniums sold on the internet are tuned to western equal temperament - if this is the case, that would explain why your bansuri sounds out of tune with the harmonium - because they are both tuned differently but I am not sure. You should ask your harmonium player. Maybe they know.

    The best way, in any case, for you to know if you are in tune is to use the tanpura and with pratice you will be able to hear if your are playing out of tune. If you don't have access to a tanpura player then you can use various computer or iphone programmes/apps such as Riyaaz or itablepro. It can take time to adapt your ear to this and to know if you are in tune but I think you will be able to tell since you can already hear the difference with the harmonium.

    You can also use some type of tuner to test your flute for tuning. There are even some online ones, but you must make sure you select the right one for Indian music.

    Sometimes the problem can also be with the flute being out of tune, which is why you should test this with a tanpura to make sure.

    Let me know if you have any ore questions

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  16. thanks Craig, this was such a nice reply of yours. I owe you for all your replies..Definitly i will keep on giving you trouble...HaHHAHAH anyways i am moving to Delhi soon to learn From Guru.... thanks a lot Bro....

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  17. You are very welcome ;-) any time!

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  18. Hi Craig,

    Your blog is a very good one for Bansuri beginners. I am 34, and I have of late been attracted to the bansuri. My brother had bought two bansuris and they are lying at home as he did not continue learning. As per him they are E sharp and E normal scale ones. I have been trying to get accustomed to those. Whereas I can get the sound out of both, I am unable to reach the larger one's holes properly. Can you please suggest me how I should begin, I just want to be able to play to enjoy, as I feel very good playing this instrument. Will I be able to handle the E normal scale bansuri over time through practice, or should I buy a smaller one like G, as you suggest?

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    1. Hi abhijit,
      it is good to have "E" scale bansuries, but is you are a beginner then i suggest you to purchase a "G2" ({black-2}vertically straight blowing flute). in this scale you have to practice daily 1 hour for 3 months to get your fingering good. after that you can purchase B-Flat (black-5), in B-Flat Scale you have to practice At-least 1 year (1Hr per Day), after that you can play any scale bansuri.
      but remember in practice session you have to play basic lessons every-time in first 15 minutes.

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    2. Thanks Swapnil. By G2 do you mean a G normal scale bansuri? Also what does "vertically straight blowing flute" mean? Does it mean normal bansuri flutes or the penny-whistle types?

      Delete
  19. I Want to learn Bansuri can anyone help me with the bansuri whcih I should purchase and what scale it should be and how much time will take for me to learn Bansuri

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    1. hi Ashwin ,
      this is good to hear from you that you want to learn bansuri , for the beginner level i suggest you to start "G2" ({black-2}vertically straight blowing flute). in this scale you have to practice daily 1 hour for 3 months to get your fingering good. after that you can purchase B-Flat (black-5), in B Flat Scale you have to practice At-least 1 year (1Hr per Day), after that you can play any scale bansuri.
      but remember in practice session you have to play basic lessons in first 15 minutes.
      and the last one - no one can finish the bansuri learning till the death, coz the bansuri is the instrument where we found/learn a new thing every time we hold it and blow in it.
      good luck.

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  20. Hi Craig, swapnil.
    Good to know that there are a few bansuri players in uk. where are you guys based? i have been playing the bansuri for a few years now. Ravi mishra from mysore is my guru.
    my question is does flute pitch change ( half a note) with place?. i have a G flute brought from india and it plays as f# here. is that normal? i have to admit my blowing strength is not as great now.

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  21. Hi i am from rajkot(gujrat) i need a guru for flute if you know any one then please suggest me..

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  22. Good information and surely an encouragement for beginners. Nice work Craig (Y)

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  23. Hi Craig

    today only i came accross ur website and got lots of information regarding flute a very very nice information and resource for flute beginners as well as regular player joined your group and also contacted and registered at anand's website and ask for the best flute for begginers let me have a reply frm him thn will update you

    my Mail id ia atulshah_ca@yahoo.com

    I am a practicing Charted Accountant in INDIA and wants to learn flute just for my self satisfaction and as my passion for music

    pl keep me informed abiut any new thing u can gudem me for the same

    really once gain would like to aapereciate your efforts for the flute and will always be your fan foe ever and will remenber you always

    CA Atul Shah

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  24. very nice blog.... one of the best site to learn and really understand bansuri.. i have learned very much .. thnx for creating such a wonderful site . everything is really easy to understand here. the way of teaching is also wonderful. u r a good bansuri player and a good teacher as well...I really appreciate it..

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  26. Hey Craig,
    Beautiful Blog u've made, I really liked it. I do often visit ur site in case I hv any queries and to my surprise I've found all the answer explained with detailed & in a vry simple manner. Looks like u are in this field since ur childhood. I'm no master/professional flute player but m learning from my Guruji. I have F scale flute, n m working towards mastering the basics as of now. But seriously even at nite while doing the practice if I come across any queries I visit ur blog.. its been really helpful in many ways. I have also sent u mail thanking u for creating this blog and let me thank u again for doing such a wonderful job.
    I live in India (pune), God willing if n' when I come to UK I hope I get to meet U.
    Thanks again.. Cheers!!!

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  27. Hi Craig,
    Great work. Thanks.
    I am a professional sitar player here in Scotland so am already versed in several ragas. I've recently been playing bansuri, a cheapish one in C kalyani or G bilawal (madhya around 20" long). I'd like a concert quality one in the key compatible with my sitar which is tuned to C#. I'm assuming I need the one a semi-tone above the one I have!? Or...perhaps the lower octave C#?? My stretch is good and big hands. What do you advise?
    Best wishes,
    Paul Wright

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  28. Hi there,

    Anyone can help me I am new in bansuri playing but i know much aboutusic(as i play guitar in band) I am stuck with a little problem.. That my bansuri's tuning is G# scale and it has print G on it..how to I practice with it.. Should i buy new bansuri if so the which of scale...
    Thanx in advance

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  29. Hello craig
    I want to buy E concert bansuri , can u recommend me from where to buy either from subhash or anand. ( i live in chandigarh)

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  30. Hello Craig n Swapnil
    i love playing flutes,can u help me to know from whereto learn and what type of flut should i buy. i live in karnal....i know nothing about flutes... pls help

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  32. Hello everyone!

    Wonderful blog :)

    I have the following question: I would like to replicate the following performance on a bansuri:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TogXJ5SHujw

    Could anyone please tell me what size/scale bansuri would be best to replicate that specific performance most accurately? Thank you so much for your help! :)

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