5. THE FINGERS

There are two distinct finger techniques for the bansuri. One, from Pannalal Ghosh and his disciple Devendra Murdeshwar, is to place the fingertips over the holes, in a technique similar to the way western concert flute players place their fingers on the keys. It is a difficult and demanding technique that creates its own inimical style of playing, with its own dynamic with clarity and precision in the tans, but it is rarely to be heard these days.
The other technique, by far the most common, is to keep the fingers straight, and close the holes from the middle of the first joint of the fingers, the joint itself resting on the flute, just at the edge of the hole. The fingers are not curved or bent in any way, but lie flat over the instrument, the left hand (i.e. nearest the blowing hole more in a vertical position so that the fingers open outward, whereas the right hand is in a more horizontal position so that the fingers open upwards,. This is only a generality, of course. Every bansuri player needs to make adjustments according to the size and shape of his/her hands. Hopefully, no aspiring player will have to manage these initial stages without the help of a teacher or an experienced player to help position the hands in the best and most effective playing position.
Not everyone’s fingers are ideal for the bansuri; sometimes the little finger of the right hand cannot reach the instrument, sometimes the thumb cannot bend sufficiently for it be placed under the flute. Compromises have to be made; but the most important point to remember is that in finding the right position for stability of the flute and ease of movement for the fingers, that the hand and fingers need to remain as relaxed and tension-free as possible. Even small areas of tension can accumulate to produce stiffness and pain.
Economy of finger movement
Economy of finger movement will aid the player in finger responsiveness, fluency. precision and general ease of expression. Beginners often lift their fingers off the holes far more than necessary. Fingers should not have to lift more then 2 cm off the holes, except for the index finger on the first hole when playing Tivra Ma, when it must point directly upwards or lift off the flute altogether, in order for that note to be played in tune.
There are actually two finger techniques; one for playing slow and another for playing fast. When playing slow, all proper finger positions need to be maintained for reasons of intonation and tonal quality. When playing fast, especially in tanas, various short cuts in fingering can be made to aid fluency. (Not to be confused with the adjustments made to the ascending-descending scale of complex raags to facilitate fluency in fast passages... altogether a more controversial practice) Some examples of faster tempo abbreviations...
(Reference: holes number from one to six, first hole nearest the blowing hole)
Pa Ma Pa - When moving from Pa to Ma and back again keep holes 4,5,6 covered all the time, and keep hole 1 fixed in Ma or tivra M position throughout, so that the only fingers that move are over holes 2 and 3.
Dha Ma Dha or Dha Pa Ma Dha - Keep holes 4 and 5 covered during the whole
movement, so that the movement from Ma to Dha only three holes, 1, 2 &3 need to be closed.
When moving from fully closed hole two notes up to a half hole such as from Re to Ma, Sa to Komal Ga, Pa to Komal Ni and back, open both holes to the same half hole position, instead of taking the finger on hole two off the flute altogether. Two fingers moving together facilitates an easier operation, and also helps to keep Ma in tune.
Ma to Komal Dha. As Komal Dha is difficult to reach effectively [for the lower register], prepare by keeping sixth hole on Dha still playing Ma.
Ma Dha Ma - keep 6th hole fixed in Dha position

4 comments:

hashem said...

hi,
keeping 4th,5th and 6th finger when we go from Ma to Pa, doesn't it change the sound a littl bit?

nisa06 said...

when playing fast passages and going from tivra-ma (all holes opened) to pa u can close all holes or (better) leave the upper most opened which sounds a little bit more clear.

Radhika Sharma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Radhika Sharma said...

Music always stands for the broader outrage of life in the society. You can definitely relate all of your emotions with the help of music. Happiness, agony, pain, disgust, anger, sorrow- everything can be related through the different kinds of music. When it comes to talk about music, you cannot deny the importance of musical instruments which are used along with music. There are lots of instruments used in various types of musical genres. Among all the instruments, flute is considered to be one of the modest and sober instruments used in music. Basically this typical instrument is seen to be used in the traditional country music or folk music. This is really great post to give basic idea for beginners about flute.

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