Musical Instruments of Punjab
Dhol, Algoza, Chimta, Tumbi, Sarangi, Dhad
The dhol is one of the few percussion instruments in the world that draws people to the dancefloor whenever it is played.
It is the king of Punjabi instruments; it is the soul of Bhangra; and without it, Bhangra is incomplete.
Bhangra performers have huge respect for the dhol and it is for the dhol that the dance is performed.
The dhol is a barrel-shaped instrument, made from a shell of hollowed-out mango or sheesham wood, with the treble on the right and the bass on the left. Historically,both sides of the drum were made from goatskin, but today, plastic is sometimes used for one of the sides.
Two drumsticks are used to beat the drum. The tili is a thin cane stick; the dagga is a crooked wooden stick: their contrasting shapes and sizes suit the different properties of each side of the drum. It is the rhythm they create that is the most significant feature of dhol playing.
Many Punjabi homes in the UK own a dhol and it is very popular with children; yet due to a lack of experienced dhol players and teachers in England, most students learn only a couple of basic tunes.
Nevertheless, even the inexperienced players are often good enough to bring the whole street out to dance!
Each beat of the dohl in Bhangra dance music introduces a different dance step.
The beat is then followed by a tora, a means of shifting from one beat to another without a pause.
ALGOZA / JORI
A magical instrument! This Punjabi woodwind instrument, also called
a jori/ ngoza, resembles a pair of wooden flutes which the musician plays by using three fingers on each side. A very challenging instrument to play, the sound is generated by breathing into it rapidly; the quick recapturing of breath on each beat creates a bouncing, swing rhythm.
The pairing of the algoza with the dhol in a piece of music produces a great sound that makes everyone want to dance!
The algoza is generally used as a folk instrument and Punjabi folk singers use it to play traditional music such as Jugni, Jind Mahi, Mirza. However, it is also a popular choice among UK musicians for making contemporary Bhangra music.
The chimta is often used in popular Punjabi Bhangra music.
It is a percussion instrument made of two long, flat pieces of metal (usually iron) with pointed ends to which several rings are attached.
The rings are plucked in a downward motion to produce tinkling sounds
The tumbi is a traditional Punjabi string instrument. Its one string can
produce both high and low tones. The body of the instrument is made from various types of wood over which a skin is stretched and strings are attached. It is played with the continuous flick and retraction of the forefinger. Famous Punjabi singers of traditional songs, such as Mahiya, Challa, Jindua and Jugni, have used the tumbi.
'Mundeya tou bach ke rahi' (Beware of Boys) from Punjabi MC, is a fine example of tumbi music, and was a huge hit in the UK charts and is still used in most international programs.
The one-stringed tumbi is the most famous instrument in Bhangra and it is one of the most popular instruments used in folk music.
Sarangi is a popular bowed instrument in Punjab. It is wooden instrument about two feet long, cut from a single log covered with parchment. A bridge is placed in the middle. The sides of the Sarangi are pinched so as to bow it. The instrument usually has three major strings of varying thickness, and the fourth string is made of brass, used for drone. Modern sarangis contain 35-40 sympathetic strings running under the main strings. This is used for accompaniment by artists and is an ideal instrument for producing all types of Gamks and Meends.
This is a stringed instrument made of dried gourd (Ghia). A piece of skin is mounted on one side of the hollowed gourd while the other side is kept open. A gut string (Tand) is crossed through the centre of the skin and a small piece of wood is tied to the end of the string, which passes through the body of the gourd. To maintain a drum-like rhythm, the string is stretched or loosened while playing.
Dhad is a small percussion instrument of the Damru style. Held in one hand, it is struck on either side, with the other hand holding the skinned sides vertically or horizontally. This instrument has been very popular with the Dhadies, who sing traditional ballads of brave warriors and heroes drawn from history.
The simple earthen pitcher serves as a musical instrument in a number of folk songs. The Garah player strikes its sides with rings worn on fingers of one hand and also plays on its open mouth with the other hand to produce a distinct rhythmic beat