Punjab has a rich musical tradition as Punjab’s folkal instruments go back many centuries. Please browse through below and learn about the various Punjabi instruments. Punjab has a rich musical tradition as Punjab’s folkal instruments go back many centuries. These instruments have left a big impression in the history of Punjab. Bhai Mardana, the disciple of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, used to play a musical instrument called Rabab. Whenever Guruji used to recite Gurbani, they would say:
Mardaneya, Rabab Vaja
Bani Ayi Aa
Moreover, in almost every occasion or festival, Punjabi people do have some musical program. Almost all the folk dances are performed on the tunes of some musical instrument be it Dholki, Dhol, Algoje or simple Tumbi. Some of the traditional punjabi musical instruments are shown below:
Punjabi folk music (Punjabi: ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਲੋਕ ਸੰਗੀਤ) has a wide range of traditional musical instruments used in folk music and dances like Bhangra, Giddha etc. Some of the instruments are rare in use and to find even. Here are some best known traditional instruments of the Punjab region used in various cultural activities.
Here is a list of Punjabi folk musical instruments in alphabetical order:
Algoze (Punjabi: ਅਲਗੋਜ਼ੇ) is a pair of Punjabi woodwind instruments adopted by Sindhi, Rajasthani and Baloch folk musicians, also called Jorhi, Do Nally, Satara or Ngoze. It resembles a pair of wooden flutes. The musician plays it by using three fingers on each side. Sound is generated by breathing into it rapidly; the quick recapturing of breath on each beat creates a bouncing, swing rhythm.
It is generally used as a folk instrument and Punjabi folk singers use it to play traditional music such as Jugni, Jind Mahi, and Mirza. It is also a popular choice among UK musicians for making contemporary Bhangra music and figures as an important instrument in Rajasthani and Baloch folk music. The greatest exponents of Alghoza, however, are the Sindhi musicians (Late) Ustad Khamisu Khan, (Late) Ustad Misri Khan Jamali and Akbar Khamisu Khan (Khamisu Khan’s son). Gurmeet Bawa (from Punjab) is another famous folk singer to use the instrument in her songs.
Bugchu (Punjabi: ਬੁਘਚੂ), also spelled as Bughchu, Bugdu or Bughdu, is a traditional musical instrument native to the Punjab region. It is used in various cultural activities like folk music and folk dances such as bhangra, Malwai Giddha etc. It is a simple but unique instrument made of wood. Its shape is much similar to damru, an Indian musical instrument. It makes a sound similar to its name, “bugchoo”.
Design and playing
It is an hourglass-shaped gourd with stretched skin on heads. A thick cord or string pierces the center of the skin and a knob of wood is tied to the other end of the string.
The instrument is held in a crook of the arm and the string is held in the palm of the same hand that holds the instruments. Then the taut string is plucked with the other hand’s fingers or with a striker to produce a unique sound.
Chimta (Punjabi: ਚਿਮਟਾ , Shahmukhī: چمٹا ) literally means tongs. Over time it has evolved into a traditional percussion instrument of South Asia by the permanent addition of small brass jingles. This instrument is often used in popular Punjabi folk songs, Bhangra music and the Sikh religious music known as Gurbani Kirtan.
The player of the chimta is able to produce a chiming sound if he holds the joint of the instrument in one hand and strikes the two sides of the chimta together. The jingles are made of metal and thus it produces a metallic sound and helps to keep up the beat of the song.
In Bhangra music or at weddings it is often combined with Dhol and Bhangra dancers.
Construction and Design
The chimta consists of a long, flat piece of steel or iron that is pointed at both ends, and folded over in the middle. A metal ring is attached near the fold, and there are jingles or rings attached along the sides at regular intervals. Sometimes there are seven pairs of jingles. The rings are plucked in a downward motion to produce tinkling sounds. Chimtas with large rings are used at rural festivals while ones with smaller rings are often used as an accompaniment to Bhangra dancers and singers of traditional Indian hymns.
The dafli, also popularly known as daf, dappler or tambourine, is a must for weddings. Made of wooden ring with a double row of bells and a playing surface with a 10″ diameter, our dafli is a perfect accompaniment to the dholki. The pleasant sound of the dafli will elevate the tempo and mood of all celebrations. Easy to play with no beforehand practice required – with these daflis anyone can add to the music played in weddings and other.
Daf (Persian, Khowar: ڈف, Kurdish, Arabic, Urdu: دف, from Middle Persian: dap) is a large Persian frame drum used in popular and classical music. The frame is usually made of hardwood with many metal ringlets attached, and the membrane is usually goatskin. Daf is mostly used in the Middle East, Kurdistan, Iran, Armenia, Pakistan, Turkey, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan, and usually accompanies singers and players of the tambura, violin, oud, saz and other Middle Eastern instruments. Some dafs are equipped with small cymbals, making them analogous to a large tambourine.
The esraj (Bengali: এস্রাজ; Hindi: इसराज; also called the Indian harp) is a string instrument found in two forms throughout the north, central, and east regions of India. It is a young instrument by Indian terms, being only about 200 years old. The dilruba is found in the north, where it is used in religious music and light classical songs in the urban areas. Its name is translated as “robber of the heart.” The esraj is found in the east and central areas, particularly Bengal (Bangladesh and Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura) and it is used in a somewhat wider variety of musical styles than is the dilruba.
The structure of both instruments is very similar, each having a medium sized sitar-like neck with 20 heavy metal frets. This neck holds on a long wooden rack of 12-15 sympathetic strings. While the dilruba has more sympathetic strings and a differently shaped body than the esraj, they both have four main strings which are bowed. All strings are metal. The soundboard is a stretched piece of goatskin similar to what is found on a sarangi. Sometimes the instrument has a gourd affixed to the top for balance or for tone enhancement.
The instrument can be rested between the knees while the player kneels, or more commonly rested on the knee of the player while sitting, or also on the floor just in front of the player, with the neck leaning on the left shoulder. It is played with a bow (known as a “gaz”), with the other hand moving along the strings above the frets. The player may slide the note up or down to achieve the portamento, or meend, characteristic of Indian music.
Dhadd (Punjabi: ਢੱਡ), also spelled as Dhad or Dhadh is an hourglass-shaped traditional musical instrument native to Punjab that is mainly used by the Dhadi singers. It is also used by other folk singers of the region.
Design and playing
It is made of wood with thin waist like and hourglass. The skin on the both sides in tightened with ropes that helps in holding the instrument firmly too. Its design is very similar to other Indian drums: the simple Damru, the Udukai, and the sophisticated Idakka. The Damru has knotted cords to stuck its both sides but Dhadd does not have any chord. Damru is played by shaking/rotating quickly so that the knotted cords stuck its both sides and also played with a stick sometimes. The Udukai and the Dhad have similar technique of playing, but the social significance is different.
Dhadd being played by an artist in the center
Dhadd is played by tapping/stucking fingers on one of its side. The pitch of the drum is raised by tightening a small cloth band wrapped around the waist of the drum. Closed and open sounds can also be produced.
Dhadd is very closely associated with and mostly used by the Dhadi singers, who sings folk, religious and warriors’ ballads and history using this along with Sarangi.
Dhol (Devanagari:ढोल, Khowar: دھول, Gurmukhi:ਢੋਲ, Urdu: ڈھول, Assamese: ঢোল) can refer to any one of a number of similar types of double-headed drum widely used, with regional variations, throughout the Indian subcontinent. Its range of distribution in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan primarily includes northern areas such as the Assam Valley, Gujarat, Kashmir, Maharashtra, Konkan and Goa, Punjab, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Sindh and Uttar Pradesh. The range stretches westward as far as eastern Afghanistan. The Punjabi dhol is perhaps best known abroad due to its prominent place in the rhythm of popular Punjabi bhangra music.
Someone who plays the dhol is known as dholi (Punjabi: ਢੋਲੀ).
Gagar (Punjabi: ਗਾਗਰ, pronounced: gāger) is a metal pitcher that is used as a musical instrument in number of Punjabi folk songs and dances. It is played with both hands with rings worn in fingers. It is closely associated with the other music instrument, Gharha. Gagar and Gharha a little difference that Gagar is made of metal but Gharha means an earthen pitcher.
Gharha (Punjabi: ਘੜਾ), also spelled as Ghara, is a musical instrument used in the folk music aka folk songs and folk dances of Punjab region. It is an earthen pitcher.
It is played with both hands. The player strikes it’s both sides with rings worn in fingers. The player also plays on its open mouth to produce a distinct rhythm. Ghara is closely associated with an other instrument used in folk music of Punjab, Gagar.
Kato (Punjabi: ਕਾਟੋ), also spelled as Kaato or Katto, is one of the traditional musical instruments of Punjab. It is used in various cultural activities specially in folk dances like Bhangra, Malwai Giddha. Kato literally means squirrel in Punjabi and named after its design similar to squirrel but used as a symbol of happiness. In Punjab, when a happy man is asked how he is? He answered, “Ajj Taan Kaato Phullan Te Aa”, roughly translated to be the squirrel of his mood on flowers.
Design and playing
It is made of wood. A wooden shape of a squirrel is attached to one end of a stick the player holds the other end of the stick and pulled the ropes tied to the squirrel’s mouth and tail and so the wooden squirrel functions and makes low clap sound.
A khartal or kartal is a percussion instrument of India.
Khartal is an ancient instrument mainly used in devotional / folk songs. It has derived its name from Hindi words ‘kara’ means hand and ‘tala’ means clapping. This wooden clapper is a Ghana Vadya which has discs or plates that produce a clinking sound when clapped together. It falls under the class of idiophones of self-sounding instruments that combine properties of vibrator and resonator.
Usually made wood or metal, a khartal player will hold one ‘male’ and ‘female’ khartal in each hand. The ‘male’ khartal is usually thicker and is held with the thumb while the ‘female’ khartal is usually thinner and is mainly balanced on the ring finger, which represents the fire element. It is associated with the sun and the root chakra. Its force provides staying power, stamina, and the power to be assertive.
A pair of wooden castanets with bells attached to them was the earliest form of the khartal. These pieces of wood are not connected in any way, however they can be clapped together at high speeds to make rapid complex rhythms. Aside from being an excellent accompaniment instrument, khartal is the most portable percussion instrument in the world.
Sapp (Punjabi: ਸੱਪ, also known as Chhikka (Punjabi: ਛਿੱਕਾ)), also spelled as Sap or Supp is a musical instrument native to Punjab. It is used with the folk dances Bhangra and Malwai Giddha.
Design and playing
It is made of wood with many X shaped small parts. It is played by expanding and collapsing with both hands. It makes a unique clapping sound.
The sārangī (Hindi: सारंगी, Nepali: सारंगी) is a bowed, short-necked string instrument from South Asia which originated from Gandarbha folk instruments. It is said to most resemble the sound of the human voice – able to imitate vocal ornaments such as gamakas (shakes) and meend (sliding movements).
The Tumbi or Toombi (Punjabi: ਤੂੰਬੀ, Pronunciation: tūmbī) is an ancient traditional North Indian musical instrument from Punjab. The tumbi was popularized by the renowned folk-singer of Punjab “Lal Chand Yamla Jatt”. In the 1960s, 70s and 80s most of the Punjabi singers used the Tumbi. The most popular were Kuldeep Manak, Mohammed Sadiq, Didar Sandhu, Amar Singh Chamkila and Kartar Ramla.
The high pitched, single string plucking instrument is associated with folk music of Punjab and presently very popular in Western Bhangra music.