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

The Making of a Bansuri

Although, the flute is a relatively simple instrument in terms of design, the process of making a professional quality flute can be quite complex. Ram Ashish has been making professional bansuri's for over 20 years and through this set of videos he shares what goes into transforming a raw bamboo tube into a work of art.

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A brief description of the process

Bamboo, the raw material is a product of nature and its physical properties like density, thickness, internal diameter etc are not uniform. These factors need to be kept in mind while making a flute and their effect on the character and tone of the instrument can only be judged by experience.

The flutes are carved out by hand. The process begins with selecting the right piece of bamboo. The ratio of length vs diameter is an important factor in this. Other considerations are the thickness of the bamboo, the desired scale and the number of knots present.

The bamboo is then cut to a length slightly longer than what is finally required and the knots are removed.

After this, a position for the blowing hole is decided keeping in mind the curvature and the physical structure of the bamboo.

The blowing hole is then made by burning the bamboo with a hot iron rod. A cork is fixed inside the tube near the blowing hole in such a position so that the main note and its octave can be played with maximum ease.

Measurements are made and the bamboo is again cut to acheive the correct pitch. Similarly, other holes are marked and burnt into the bamboo.

The next step and the most complex one is that of tuning the flute. The flute has to be tuned by adjusting the size of the holes. The holes can only be widened and not shortened, so if an error is made at this stage, the entire flute goes waste. This is where the skill of a seasoned craftsman is put to use.

The flutes are tuned strictly to the pure diatonic scale and not to the tempered, chromatic scale.

Once the flute is tuned it is washed and dipped in a mixture of various oils and antiseptic solution for over 24 hours. After this, the oil is allowed to drain for another 24 hours.

The flute is now ready to be played and some final touches are added.

Compiled by Manu Mahajan. Posted on 31st May '06.

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