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Indian Instruments

Many of you have e-mailed us questions about the instruments used in our Kirtan with Ragani events. Here you'll find a small list and several links to more comprehensive websites on Indian instruments. Also, scroll down to the bottom of this page for information about how to purchase these Indian instruments. Enjoy! :)

-Kirtan Basics-

The harmonium is a reed instrument, and it's most often the one you see being played by the lead singers at kirtan. This wind instrument is often used in folk music, as it's tone is not as pure as the classical Indian instruments. To read more about
the harmonium (and hear a soundclips of the harmonium), visit www.chandrakantha.com.

Known as the "mother of all instruments", the tanpura is used to accompany most Indian classical music; it provides the "drone" that you often hear
in the background. Read more about the purpose
of the drone in Indian classical music
There are different sizes, the number of strings is commonly 4 or 5, and they can be tuned to various notes, depending upon the songs. When played properly the notes of the tanpura should join and sound as though they are one. To read more about the tanpura (and listen to a tanpura soundclip), visit www.chandrakantha.com.

Tablas: A set of drums frequently used in kirtan
and classical Indian music. Read more about the tabla. For resources, articles, books, etc. on the tabla, visit www.chandrakantha.com. Other drums often used in kirtan include dholak, mridangam, and khol, among others. Visit storefront for Indian Drums >

To read more about the wide variety of incredible Indian instruments, visit www.chandrakantha.com. Chandrakantha and David Courtney,
a husband-wife team, have created this incredible database of information on Indian instruments and Indian music, and you'll find most of your curiosities satisfied therein!

-Learning to Play Indian Instruments-

It's certainly best to find live lessons from someone who can train you in the instrument you wish to learn. Book instructions and tapes are always second-best, though you can find them to supplement your training. For example, you can
find written online harmonium instructions for
Indian music at: www.soundofindia.com
Search community listings in your area-- visit www.chandrakantha.com and their international database of India music and dance teachers.

-Purchasing Indian Instruments-

Of course, it's always best to visit a storefront where you can put your hands on the instrument you wish to bring home with you. Because all instruments are slightly different in sound, it's ideal to have the chance to try out several of them before making a purchase, to see which feel and sound you resonate with the most. That being said, the opportunity to "try out" an instrument before making a purchase is not always feasible. There are several online locations to buy Indian instruments. I recommend Keshav Music online, where prices are good and quality remains solid. Rikhi Ram is one of the brands with a good reputation for Indian instruments-- read about Rikhi Ram . For a larger list of Indian Musical Instrument Suppliers, see links here (list courtesy of www.chandrakantha.com).


Report a broken link-- thank you! :)

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Dancing Ganesha





Photos courtesy of
Keshav Music