Bansuri is a six hole transverse cane flute of India.
It is used in indian classical music as well as in other folk, fusion or meditation music styles. It's distinct tone and playing
technique makes bansuri's sound easily recognizable.
Bansuri in it's modern shape was made up by an Indian musician Pannalal Ghosh (1911-1960).
He modified folk form of bansuri and developed playing technique for performing ragas
having based it on the Indian classic vocal tradition.
Abedabun bansuries are made from special Indian cane to achieve distinctive Indian sound -
dense, round and soft. This kind of cane can only be found in the two Indian states and it
differs very much from common bamboo both in physical qualities and in tone.
All Abedabun flutes are tuned to A=440 and can be used both for Indian and
European style music. Bansuri can easily blend with various ethnic instruments as well as
with classic ones or it can be used in rock or electronic music.
Bansuries are tuned into diatonic scale (major).
The letter in it's name signifies it's key (of which it's size depends).
For instance, an F (fa) bansuri is one semitone (step) higher
than an E(mi) bansuri.
In Indian music tradition the key of a flute is usually named
according to the "middle" note (it is taken when the three upper holes are closed).
For example, a classic E(mi) bansuri's bottom note would be B(si).
The classic Indian bansuri is usually tuned in E.
Most classic indian flutists (including Hariprasad Chaurasya) play the E-bansuris.
In 90% cases if you hear a bansuri on a record it is a bansuri in E.
Other keys are considered non-academic and usually are not used in the classic music of India.
An E-bansuri is quite a large flute - it is about 75 cm long and it's inner diameter is about 26 mm.
Size of tone holes may reach 12-13mm or even 15mm.
This kind of flute is not recommended for beginners.
Many experts consider A-bansuri (bottom note E) the most suitable for beginning. Why so?
Firstly, it is smaller.
A-bansuri is usually about 53 cm long. This size may fit even girls with small hands.
Secondly, A-bansuri can be easily combined with classic E-bansuri - you can play all that is played
on an E-flute on your A-one (though you'll have to play something an octave up). You can even play
along with your favorite bansuri-player on record.
PS: this kind of flute is considered student's due to comfortable size and key.
Quality of tuning or tone as well as the price is the same as of other Abedabun bansuries.
If you want a more budget beginner's instrument - a bamboo flute in any key is your choice.
Small bansuri may suit well beginner musicians, people with small hands and serve as additional instrument
for advanced players. These flutes have bright and loud sound.
Here are the typical keys for small bansuri flutes: C (bottom note G) - 45cm long. A universal flute for "white" keys. Bright sound. C# (bottom note G#) - 44cm long. Suits for playing along with sitar in traditional tuning.
For radically "black" keys. Bb (bottom note F) - 51cm long. For "white" keys but with fuller sound. A (bottom note E) - 53cm long. Student's bansuri.
Flutes with strong, mild and round sound. They give this distinctive, unmistakably indian sound.
These bansuris demand experience, strong breathing skill as well as considerable finger stretch.
Since the indian flute tradition had developed from the vocal one the tone of these flutes resembles human voice.
Typical keys: G (bottom note D) - 60cm long. Not the largest bansuri but has quite a big sound. May suite well for ladyes. F (bottom note C) - 66cm long. European classic. Ideal as an alternative for silver flute. E (bottom note B) - Indian classic. D (bottom note A (la)) - 77cm long. Bass bansuri. Demands wide finger stretch.
Large and very large flutes for breath work and sound meditation.
Each of these flutes is made individually according to customer's requirements and physical
abilities. It is very hard to play these flutes but is there a thing more rewarding than
to overcome difficulties?
Cane bansuris are more stable than bamboo ones but still they need to be maintained well and carefully kept.
The most important is to avoid mechanical damage. Indian cane is quite fragile and easily breaks.
If you want to get rid of your flute - leave it on a chair, forget about and then sit on it...
It is also easy to have your flute broken by carrying it in a bag or a backpack. That's why I recommend
to keep your flutes in a hard case. It can be easily made from a PVC tubing or from a tube carrying case.
It is good to wrap your flute with a cloth before putting it inside so that it wouldn't be loose.
Avoid taking your just bought bansuri outdoors for the first week or two and do not
play a lot the first time. It would be good to play for about a half an hour a day during the first week and for an hour a day
during the second.
If your flute is covered with chemical lacquer on the inside and/or outside, it doesn't need oiling.
If your bansuri is not covered with anything - oil it three-four times a year. You can take out the cork
before oiling if you are sure to be able to put it back in place. If you are not - do not touch it.
It is very important to have your flute oiled befor you begin playing it! It is also important to oil your bansuri before stress events - a journey,moving, a gig tour, etc. Oil your flute if it's been resting long time and you've just decided to give it
If thread winding on your flute is not glued - glue it with PVA (white) glue before the first oiling.
It can be made with 2:1 PVA/water solution.
Oil your bansuri on the inside and outside leaving thin layer of oil. You can make it with
a cotton disk or piece of cotton cloth. You can take any fitting stick with a cotton disk to oil the
inner bore of your flute. Thread winding does not need oiling - but the oil wouldn't harm it.
If you have the cork taken out mind the place where it was in the bore - some dirt may collect there.
Let your flute rest for a while (5-10 hours) so that the oil would soak in. Then clean your flute thoroughly
inside and outside.
It is often believed that six-holed bansuris differ in something (fingering, range) from the ones
with seven holes. This is not quite so.
The seventh (or the zero) hole is not used for playing (especially on large bansuris) and does not affect flute's tone.
This hole is always open, fingers don't cover it, so six- and seven-holed bansuris are the same in respect of fingering.
Why is this hole made then?
This hole is used for tuning the bottom note of a flute because it is easier to widen a hole than to
cut the whole bottom edge. This hole lets a maker to fine tune a flute.
But this is about makers. For players, it is a possibility to take an extra note one step lower than the bottom note.
It may work well on small bansuri where player can stretch his/her little finger to cover this
hole. On large bansuri this hole can sometimes be closed by player's knee... but this is a different story.
It is important to mind the size of holes when choosing and buying a bansuri. Often people with thin fingers have
difficulties in covering large tone holes. Small tone holes cannot give full sound so there is certain relation between
tonehole size and size of a flute.
Large-holed bansuris demand more air but have bigger sound. Large holes also help gliding between notes and making special
fine indian ornamentation.
Small holes are good for fast passages. Small holed bansuris are easier to play in tune due to
lesser demand of breath amount. This is a better variant for beginners.
Inner bore diameter is one of the most important things to influence the tone of a flute.
General rule is - wider bore gives deeper bass, narrower bore gives clear and brighter higher notes.
A blank for a new bansuri is usually chosen to achieve optimal balance of two octaves and
to reveal the potential of the material (cane or bamboo) in the best way. Too wide bore would give
hard and poor second octave notes compared with deep beautiful bass. A flute too narrow would have
bright and easy high notes but weak and hard lower ones.
Note that a classic bansuri is much wider than european flutes of the same length.
For instance a classic bansuri in E (bottom B) would be about 26mm inside while modern
Boehm silver flute is just 19mm.
You can order a flute in any tuning from Abedabun.
We can make a flute with any scale or with standard diatonic tuning with semitone holes added.
Equally-tempered scale as well as natural one is possible, along with pentatonic or any microchromatic, too.
Flute may be tuned at any pitch. By default all Abedabun bansuris have diatonic equally-tempered scale with A=440Hz.