Know Your Raga - Your complete guide to Indian Classical Music
Know Your Raga - Your complete guide to Indian Classical Music

Frequently Asked Questions

For the last couple of years users have participated in discussions in the KnowYourRaga forums. This page attempts to organize the information in the forums and to answer some of the commonly asked questions.

Selecting a flute

A lot of people want to know what scale bansuri should they buy to begin with.

The first thing to consider is that longer flutes have a deeper, bassy sound but are heavy and can be more difficult to grip(at least in the beginning). Smaller flutes on the other hand would be louder and shrill. If you are not sure what scale to go for then just pick up the G medium bansuri as it is recommended by most people.

The choice also depends on what kind of music you want to play. If you like the sound of the longer bass flutes then buying a shorter flute might not be the way to go. Even though the longer flute would be difficult to start with you might be more motivated to play it since the sound attracts you to it.

For more information you can listen to samples of different flutes on the bansuri selection page.

Original Discussions

Tackling the hissing/airy sound

It is common to get a hissing sound when you play the flute in the beginning. Sometimes you will find that you are able to play some notes better than the others. This is also common and generally it is more difficult to play notes that require you to close more holes.

To tackle this issue you need to focus on two things:

  1. Make sure there is no leakage of air as you close holes with your fingers. This does not mean that you have to put more pressure and close the holes tightly. Just cover the holes completely with the flat parts of your fingers.
  2. Find the correct angle and intensity for blowing into the flute. This can only be acheived after a lot of practice. Feel free to experiment - change the angle at which you hold the flute, roll the flute inwards or outwards, blow with lower/higher intensity... You have to find what position works for you the best.

Original Discussions

Playing higher notes

A common problem faced by people learning to play the bansuri is not being able to play the notes of the higher octave. For playing higher notes you have to keep the following things in mind:

  1. You have to blow with lower intensity for higher notes.
  2. The air flow should be more focused. you can try blowing on the palm of your hand and see how concentrated the air is.
  3. The holes of the flute should be properly covered. You do not have to close them tightly but there should be no leakage.

In the beginning playing Pa is the toughest because you have to close all the holes and even if there is leakage in one hole the sound wont come out properly. So try playing higher notes Sa or Ni or Dha first.

Original Discussions

Playing half notes

There are two techniques for playing half notes on a bansuri. You can either lift your finger up slightly or you can slide your finger to the side. Try both and see what suits you.

Original Discussions

Making your own bansuri

You can start by watching the bansuri making videos by Ram Ashish.

I am planning to create a separate page to organize information on this topic. Hopefully I will be able to do that soon.