Meet artists who are using rare Indian instruments to create magic!

Music isn’t bound to traditional instruments and just needs an idea. Check out these Local artists using rare instruments to create rhythm and tunes!

We have heard music from all possible instruments. String, percussion, and wind, all instruments use these primary concepts to leave behind a mesmerizing tune. But in a world of ever-evolving instruments, there are artists who thrive on rare instruments to create magic. Check out these artists that use rare Indian instruments to show their musical flare!

1. Anandan Sivamani, Kanjira

Anandan Sivamani is a popular name in the Indian music industry and is a leading percussionist. He started his music career at the age of 11. Among all other instruments played by Sivamani, including drums, one of the rarest is Kanjira. Kanjira is a South Indian frame drum instrument from the Tambourine family. Classic Kanjiras are ideally made from jackfruit tree wood, lizard skin, goatskin, and metal. Kanjira is derived from the Tamil words “Kanja” and “Jiri” meaning skin and small jingling anklet. A Kanjira is usually high-pitched and needs to be tuned. The tension on the drum head is reduced by sprinkling water on the inside of the instrument, giving a good bass. Sivamani has been awarded a Padma Shree and has collaborated with popular Indian musicians like AR Rahman.

2. Sagar Patel, Kartaal

Sagar Patel, a full-time engineer, and part-time Kartaal specialist, is progressively mastering one of the rare Indian instruments, Kartaal. Derived from the Sanskrit words ‘kara’, meaning hand, and ‘tala’, meaning clapping, the instrument is used for devotional songs and tunes. The instrument makes a clinking sound when the disc or plates are clapped together. Sagar Patel discovered his love for the instrument on a college trip and fell in love with the tunes of this unusual art. He started recording and posting videos of his performances during the 1st lockdown and has received positive feedback ever since.

3. Ujjwal Kumar, Ghatam

Being a musical genius since childhood, Ujjwal Kumar grew a finding love for Ghatam. Ujjwal was introduced to the art of Ghatam while spending time in Ladhak and wanted to learn more about the craft. He decided to take up the task of learning this unique instrument and made a mark for himself. Ghatam is an ancient percussion instrument famous in major parts of India, especially Punjab. The instrument is a clay pot with a narrow mouth and made with brass or copper filings with a small number of iron filings. The pitch of the instrument may vary depending on the size, and Ghatam players often choose their preferred type to deliver crisp and clear rhythmic beats.

4. Ganesh Govindaswamy, Djembe

A goblet-shaped drum made from wood and goat skin, Djembe caught the attention of musician Ganesh Govindaswamy. Ganesh played the Kanjira, among various other instruments, for his band. Introduced to Djembe by a friend, Ganesh started playing and practicing the Djembe to master the instrument. Djembes are commonly 30 cm in Diameter and 60 cm in height. The instrument comes in various sizes and produces different tones making it even more appealing. Djembe got its name from Bamanakan, a language spoken in Mali and stands for “come together in peace.”

5. Nithin M Vinayan, Cajon

Nithin Vinayan is a part of the Carnatic music experimenting band Meraki and stumbled on Cajon randomly on Youtube. Since then, he grew fond of the instrument and wanted to master the art of creating rhythms and tunes with it. Cajon is one of the rare Indian percussion instruments that originates from Peru and creates music by tapping its front side. Cajon is primarily used in playing Afro-Peruvian music and is generally made with thin plywood. Nithin has also started taking Cajon classes online for all enthusiasts.

Also Read: You have to listen to these Indian folk musicians even if you are not into folk music!

6. Darshanam Mogilaiah, Kinnera

Darshanam Mogilaiah is an artist from Telangana who is still thriving on the tribal musical instrument named Kinnera. Darshanam and his forefathers have played Kinnera for many years, achieving milestones with each step. His father created the nine-stair Kinnera, while Darshanam has won the Padma Shri for his contribution to making the 12-stair Kinnera. Much like the Veena, Kinnera is a stringed instrument. These strings produce tones of varying frequency, creating sharp melodious tunes. The stem of Kinnera is made from hollowed bamboo, while the body is made from a dried gourd. Human hair or animal nerves are used to make scales, and the entire structure is held together with honey wax as an adhesive.

7. Mamata Sapera, Morchang

Mamata Sapera has a passion for music that speaks volumes with her work and craft. She is from the Kalbeliya tribe, popular for their performing arts. Mamata plays a range of instruments and has mastered the rare and unique instrument Morchang. Morchang is an instrument that comes under lamellophones and is shaped like a horseshoe. Two parallel forks form the frame, and a metal tongue in the middle vibrates to produce sound. Mamata Sapera decided to master this instrument that dates back to 1500 years ago. The instrument looks small, but Mamata has a fair share of experience when she bled from the tongue while playing Morchang at one of her performances.

8. Mangka Mayanglambam, Pena

Manipuri folk, classical, and contemporary song performer Mangka Mayanglambam has created a musical legacy with the rare instrument Pena. Mangka has been a role model for the people of Manipur and has trained many music enthusiasts. Pena is one of the rare Indian instruments Mangka has mastered in her musical journey. Pena is a traditional Indian mono-stringed instrument that is slowly becoming a rare musical device. Made out of bamboo, the bow is called ‘Pena Cheijing’, which is attached to a coconut shell and belongs to the chordophones category. This acts as a resonator, and 4 holes are drilled into the shell for an acoustic vibe. One of the holes is covered by dried animal skin, and the others are left open. Mangka also played the opening theme song for the 8th Manipur International Polo Tournament in Imphal. There is a reason why people call her “Princess of Manipuri Folk Music.”

9. Tharun Sekar, Yazh

Tharun Sekar is responsible for crafting and building lost instruments and reliving their magic. One of the instruments Tharun has reinvented is the Yazh. Tharun became fond of the process of carving wood into instruments and found a newfound love for the ancient instrument Yazh. Tharun started a company named Uru that redesigns folk instruments. Since no recorded samples could be found for Yazh, the growing curiosity led Tharun to craft his own Yazh instruments. The Yazh Nool is a research book developed around the instrument and was the primary source of information for Tharun to craft and design his instruments.

Yazh is an arched harp instrument used in Tamil music. The instrument has gut strings that run from a curved ebony neck to a boat or trough-shaped resonator. The opening is covered with skin for a soundboard to give an all-around acoustic feel to the sound produced. Tharun now has mastered the art of playing and making the instrument and aims to spread the knowledge of this ancient instrument across generations.

Also Read: Ujjwal Kumar aka Ujjwallive is a Ghatam and Handpan player from Delhi who’s leaving everyone mesmerized with his skills!

For more such stories follow Local Samosa on Facebook,  Instagram,  Twitter, and Telegram.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here