6. THE NOTES

The bansuri has six (sometimes seven ) holes for the fingers, which produce an octave when from hole six the fingers are opened one after the other. There are no cross-fingerings that could inhibit the smooth transition from one note to another. Sa, the starting note, is produced with the first three holes closed, to allow at least three notes below Sa to be played. When and how this was decided is not known, but with the Carnatic flute Sa is made with two hloes closed, thus allowing extra notes in the bass. It is difficult not consider that this as a better choice; to sacrifice one note on the top to be able to play Ma or Tivra MA in the bass would add a great deal to the full expression of many of the raags of Hidustani music. However Sa at three holes it is, and is unlikely to change.
Half of the third register can also be played on certain flutes, depending on the diameter of he instrument. Generally, the smaller diameter in relation to length, the easier it is to reach and sustain the higher notes. Bansuri players rarely venture into this area, as it is unstable and unpredictable, there being no consistency of pitch, volume or tonal quality, as well as having no smooth transition from one note to another.

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