Friday, April 12, 2024
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Indian Classical Music- Instruments & Percussion



Hey guys, I hope you liked my last article about the different kind of swaras and particularly the part about the taal. This article is going to be related to the one before; so I strongly recommend that you must read my previous article before going any further with this one. The link to my previous article is given as follows- (

This article is going to be about the percussion instruments which are used in Indian classical music, and particularly about the ones used in Hindustani music.

Some of the percussion instruments used in Indian classical music are-

  1. Tabla
  2. Dholak
  3. Pakhawaj
  4. Mridangam
  5. Dhol
  6. Tambora
  7. Damru etc. etc.

First of all before explaining the instruments mentioned above in detail, I would like to answer a question which generally arises in our minds that ‘What are percussion instruments?’

Percussion instruments are those musical instruments which produce sound when struck by a beater, by hand or even by some other similar instrument.  Some famous examples of these types of instruments are- dhol (struck by a beater), tabla (struck by hand), and manjeera (struck by a similar instrument).  I hope that by now you have an idea of what a percussion instrument is.

  1. Dholak

Dholak is an instrument which is usually used in Qawwalis, bhangra and in concerts where devotional songs are sung,Dholak which in desi language are known as kirtans or jaagrans, but is not used in Indian classical music so often.  A dholak is a 2 headed drum which I guess everyone has seen. It lacks the ability of exact tuning to a note like a tabla or a pakhavaj. The pitch of this instrument depends on the size of the drums. Now I’ll tell you a little about its playing style- a dholak is either placed on the lap of the player if in sitting position, else it is tied to the waist of the player. In the traditional style the player wears an iron ring in the thumb to produce a very high pitched ‘tak tak’ sound but in other styles generally all the fingers are used. It provides a rhythm to the song and doesn’t let the singer to deviate from the taal of the song. It is also used in Pakistani marriages for singing folk songs.

2. Pakhawaj

A pakhawaj is an instrument which was at a point of time the only instrument used in Indian classical music, of course along with Tanpura. It is also a barrel shaped 2 headed drum which is an ascendant of instruments like tabla and descendant of Mridangam which is mostly used in PakhawajCarnatic music. It is used in the ‘dhrupad’ style of singing in the Indian classical music. While playing, the instrument is kept in front of the player on a soft surface, generally a cushion. The left side of the instrument is larger in size and produces a base sound; it is played with the left hand and the right side if the instrument is comparatively smaller and gives a touch of some treble in the music. Pakhavaj is a very old instrument and was played in the court of ‘Akbar’. This instrument was split into 2 by the famous Sufi musician ‘Amir Khusrow’ and made in tabla later on.

3. Tabla

Tabla is a very famous instrument used in every Indian classical music concert. It consists of 2 drums placedTabla upright in front of the player and played simultaneously. As mentioned above also the pakhavaj was split into 2 by ‘Amir Khusrow’ to form the tabla. The drum generally placed on the left side of the player is larger in size and known as the ‘baayan’. It gives a base sound to the music. The drum which is placed on the right side of the player is smaller in size and is known as the ‘tabla’ or ‘daayan’. It is the treble drum. The skin used to make the face of the tabla is either of a goat or of a cow. The centre area of each drum is coloured black and is a thick tuning paste known as the ‘syahi’ (ink). This is a paste made of wheat or rice and a black powder. The thickness of this paste determines the pitch of the tabla. Tabla is used extensively in Indian classical music and also in other forms of music like ghazal, qawwali, Punjabi folk etc. A tabla is tuned with the help of a brass hammer which also has a ‘syahi’ removing spatula at its back.

Well this is where this article ends, giving all the readers some basic information about these instruments. Again while ending I would like to ask everyone for some topics for my next article and also to read, share and give a genuine feedback on this article asap!


Thank You

Shubham Mittal



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