Know your instruments: Flute – Soft and sweet

Flute Mali

It is a bamboo transverse flute used in Carnatic music. It is called Bansuri in Marathi (Maharashtra), and is used extensively for Hindustani classical music.

The flute finds great mention in Indian mythology and folklore having been listed as amongst the three original instruments meant for music along with the veena and mridangam (veena, flute, mridanga trinity).

N Ramani

One of the oldest musical instruments of India, it is a keyless transverse flute made of bamboo. The fingers of both hands are used to close and open the holes. It has a blowing hole near one end, and eight closely placed finger holes. The instrument comes in various sizes. This kind of flute is mainly used in south India.

It is associated with Lord Krishna, who is often depicted playing it. Lord Vishnu is portrayed as Sri Venugopala – playing the flute of creation.

The flute is capable of producing two-and-a-half octaves with the help of overblowing and cross fingering. The flute is like the human voice in that it is monophonous and also has the two-and-a-half octaves sound reproduction.

Sliding the fingers on and off the holes allows for a great degree of ornamentation, important in the performance
of raga-based music.


Palladam Sanjiva Rao
Ramachandra Shastry
‘Flute’ Mali
B Shankar Rao
Prapancham Sitaraman
Sikkil Sisters – Kunjumani & Neela
Dr N Ramani
Sikkil Mala Chandrasekar
T S Sankaran
S Shashank

NT Bureau