Any traditional folk song and dance performance is never complete without music. Every part of India has their own lineage of traditional music and song, however when it comes to North Eastern part of India, not only are the music and art forms different , but also the very instruments used for creating the music is also very unique and beautiful. Let us now have a look at the various instruments used in the Bihu dance.
Dhol-Dhol is a traditional instrument that was commonly used by the Vaishnav’s in their religious ceremonies. However, the dhol is regarded as the most integral part of the Bihu celebrations. It is a two sided instrument that is played either with hands or bamboo sticks. The dhol traditionally is a wooden barrel with both the open ends covered with animal skin. The pitch of the dhol depends on how tightly the skin is fastened on both the end of the instrument. This instrument is used for maintaining the rhythm of the festival.
Khol- Khol is also a percussion instrument and looks very similar to dhol. The instrument is made from clay, with one end having a small head, while the other one having a larger head. It is usually played with both the hands and is strung from the neck using a band.
Nagada- The other name of a Nagada is kettle drums that are played with sticks and usually accompanies the Shehnai.
Wind Instruments- Among the list of wind instruments that play a vital role in the folk culture of Assam, the Chiphung, Kali, Shinga and Gagana plays animportant role. The Chiphung is quite similar to the traditional bamboo flute and is played in a similar fashion while Kali is a more elaborate instrument that has striking resemblances with a shehnai, both in terms of looks and mode of playing.
Shinga- Shinga is made from the horn of a buffalo with a little pipe made from bamboo thrust into it. The instrument forms an integral part of the Bihu celebrations and the shinga usually has a very shrill sound and is used to announce the commencement of any occasion.
Gagana- Gagana is an instrument made from bamboo and is very delicate in nature. Given its delicate nature it is usually played by women using tier hands and teeth’s. The instrument has a very shrill sound that makes the festival appear very colourful, lively and gorgeous.
Besides these, usual instrument other stringed and solid instruments that are played during a traditional Bihu dance programme include Tokari, Serenda, Been Taal and Kah.