Bansuri

History

The word bansuri originates in the Sanskrit bans [bamboo] + sur [melody]. There are two varieties of bansuri: transverse, and fipple. The fipple flute is usually played in folk music and is held at the lips like a whistle. Because it enables superior control, variations and embellishments, the transverse variety is preferred in Indian classical music.

Construction

Bansuri construction is a complex art. The bamboo suitable for making a bansuri needs to possess several qualities. It must be thin walled and straight with a uniform circular cross section and long internodes. Being a natural material, it is difficult to find bamboo shafts with all these characteristics, which in turn makes good bansuris rare and expensive. Suitable species of bamboo (such as Pseudostachyum) with these traits are endemic to the forests of Assam and Kerala.[2]

After harvesting a suitable specimen, the bamboo is seasoned to allow naturally present resins to strengthen it. Once ready, a cork stopper is inserted to block one end, next to which the blowing hole is burnt in. The holes must be burnt in with red hot skewers since drilling causes the fibrous bamboo to split along the length, rendering it useless. The approximate positions of the finger holes are calculated by measuring the bamboo shaft's inner and outer diameters and applying certain formulae. Flute makers have only one chance to burn the holes, and a single mistake ruins the flute, so they usually begin by burning in a small hole, after which they play the note and using a chromatic tuner and a drone called tanpura, gradually make adjustments by sanding the holes in small increments. Once all the holes are perfected, the bansuri is steeped in a solution of antiseptic oils, after which it is cleaned, dried and its ends are bound with silk or nylon threads for both decoration as well as protection against thermal expansion.

Playing

Indian music is played in 3 octaves -- mandra (lower), madhya (middle), an taar (high) -- with ornamentations such as meends (glides) and gamaks (oscillations).

Bansuris range in length from less than 12 inches (called muralis) up to about 40 inches (shankha bansuris). 20-inch bansuris are common. Another common and similar Indian flute played in South India is the venu, which is shorter in length and has 8 finger holes (this type of Indian flute is played by the Carnatic musician Shashank Subramanyam). The index, middle, and ring fingers of both hands are usually used to finger the six hole bansuri. For the seven hole bansuri, the little finger (pinky) of the lower hand is usually employed.[3]

Profile

imgPt.Rajendra Prasanna
Pt. Rajendra Prasanna..giving an international workshop of Indian music at Benaras Hindu University in VaranasiRead more...
imgRajesh Prasanna
Rajesh Prasanna giving an international workshop of Indian music at Benaras Hindu University in VaranasiRead more...
imgRishab Prasanna
Rishab Prasanna giving an international workshop of Indian music at Benaras Hindu University in VaranasiRead more...
imgRitesh Prasanna
Ritesh Prasanna giving an international workshop of Indian music at Benaras Hindu University in VaranasiRead more...

Gharana

Benaras, the holy city of India, has been the cultural centre of music and art for thousands of years. The city is well- drenched and completely soaked in the great tradition of the Indian classical music both in vocal and instrumental.

Artist from every genre have interacted with this great city and found spiritual solace that amply reflected in their artistic pursuits.

The city also boasts of giving rise to numerous great maestros of music, including Pandit Raghunath Prasanna, the doyen of wind instruments both shehnai and flute. However, Pandit Raghunath's contribution in the realm of wind instruments has been unique. The title 'Prasanna' have been entitled to Pandit Raghunath by the king of Kuch Bihar. The king honored him as Pandit Raghu Nath Prasanna made audience happy, from then he has been named as "Prasanna" . That's why he is responsible to firmly establish what has now come to be known as "Prasanna Gharana" of flute playing.

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was not only a refined artiste who could play both shehnai and flute with equal ease; he was a great teacher and innovator. He got his musical training from his father Pandit Guari Shanker, a shehnai player of repute, and gayaki ang from Pandit Dauji Mishra of Varanasi. He was the first person in the family to introduce the art of flute playing in Banaras Gharana of India which known for its shehnai playing for more than two and half centuries. The shehnai in this family was earlier strengthen for many generations by Pandit Raghunath’s father Pandit Gauri Shanker, Pandit Tehal Prasad (Grand- father), Pandit Garib Das (Great Grand- Father).

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was not only a flautist of great merit; he developed various techniques in the realm of flute playing so as to faithfully reproduce the subtleties and nuances of the Indian classical music. In fact, he was responsible to provide a strong base to his Gharana by training his own family members including his son Pandit Rajendra Prasanna globally known for his melodious music.

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was not only a legend flute and shehnai player. He initiated into the art of flute playing from the instrument named Tripura bansuri and took this Tripura bansuri to Indian classical music and then he started Krishna Bansuri. Pandit Raghu nath Prasanna also played sarod. He was an excellent instrument- maker, Ustad Bismillah khan used to call him "Vishkarma"- an Indian God, when saw his quality as an instruments maker.

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna is the first in Prasanna family to introduce flute, and after him his style has spread all over India. It should be noteworthy that the tools and techniques developed by Pandit Raghunath Prasanna have been widely adopted by many of the Indian flautists including his younger brother and disciple Pandit Bholanath Prasanna and his disciple Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasiya, Pandit Rajendra Prasanna, Pandit Ronu Mujamdar and many others flautists.

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was the recipient of various awards and honors including Sangeet Natak Academy Award (1996) for his contribution to the cause of Indian Classical Music.

The Legacy Continues The musical journey started by Pandit Raghunath Prasanna is being fast – forwarded by his able son Pandit Rajendra Prasanna who is well- known in the global musical circuit both in the sphere of the shehnai and flute playing. He imbibes the best elements of the Benaras tradition in playing the Raga music as also the folk melodies of India.

The art of flute playing is being further nurtured by Pandit Rajendra Prasanna’s talented sons- Rajesh Prasanna, Rishab Prasanna, Ritesh Prasanna; who have taken to the art of flute playing very seriously and are making waves in the musical circuits both within and outside the country.

Prasanna Brothers The Prasanna family gets further boost with the Prasanna brothers – Rajesh Prasanna & Rishab Prasanna, taking the central stage and making their mark both as soloist as also duet players of flute in the country. Their meritorious rise as the country’s ace flautists is evident from a plethora of media reviews that have appeared in a number of newspaper and magazines.

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