Sargam is the Hindustani or North Indian equivalent to the western solfege. The seven notes of the sargam are Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni.
Now that you know how to grip the bansuri and get clean sound out of it, you can start playing the sargam. The notes are played by closing one or more holes starting from the top of the flute.
For playing Sa you need to close the top three holes of the instrument and then blow into the flute. In case you cannot get a clean sound in the first attempt make sure that the holes are covered properly by your fingers and there is no air leakage.
(Blowing into the flute with the first three holes closed)
Playing other notes
The fingering chart for playing all the notes of the sargam is shown below. Note that for playing Ma the first hole needs to be closed partially, but for all other notes the holes are fully covered.
Note: The black circles denote closed holes.
Pa, Dha and Ni are played in the middle octave or madhyan saptak of the bansuri. What this means is that by keeping the same position of fingers and by adjusting the air flow you can produce a note which is an octave higher than the previous note. A common mistake while trying to play the madhya saptak is that people think that they have to blow harder to play higher notes. That is not true. To play higher notes you have to make the air flow out of your mouth sharper and more concentrated. You can try blowing on to the palm of your hand and see how concentrated your air flow is.
The dot above the Sa at the end signifies that it is the Sa of the higher octave or taar saptak.
Putting it all together
Initally you should just try to play one note at a time till you are able to get a clean sound and then proceed to the next note. This process requires a lot of patience and could take a good amount of time.
When you are able to play all the notes you can try playing them together in ascending order(aaroh) or descending order(avroh).
Here is how I play the sargam. You could have a close look at the finger positioning and let me know your views on this.
Posted by Manu Mahajan. Last updated on 27th May '07.