Among the four upavedas , Gandharva Veda deals with music & dance .It is believed that music was first formed to preserve Sruti ( what is heard from the god)Great poets like Purinder Das who lived in 1484-1564 gave much contribution to Carnatic music & Hindustani music.
Classical music includes Carnatic music, Sopana sangeetham and Kathakali song while Folk Music is the simple. It reflects the life and culture of common people. It consists of songs sung through ages without any written musical notes and prescribed standards.There is no special method of learning folk songs. It transferred through generations orally. It is mainly sung & composed by socially and economically lower classes of the society. In tribal societies, music has an important role in religious rituals and serves as a communication form with supernatural beings.
The musical instruments have their own importance in the field of music. The various musical instruments of India have contributed immensely in making Indian music famous. It can be classified as e stringed instruments, percussion instruments and wind blown instruments.
Folklore museum offers you a collection of traditional musical instruments used by our bygone generations.
a) Thatham/string instruments.
a) VEENA : Veena is one of the most ancient string instruments made out of jack wood. This classical instrument from South India is basically a plucked stringed instrument that is used to accompany Carnatic music. It is essentially a member of the lute family Important types include Saraswati Veena, Chitra Veena, Vichitra Veena, Rudra veena etc .Sage Bharata, who is considered as the father of Bharathanatyam in his Natya Shastra, explains the theory of the 22 srutis in an octave with the help of two experimental veenas.
b) Villu Pattu: A bow shaped folk musical instrument invented in 15th century. The villu is a long, lacquered bow made either of a sturdy branch of the palmyra tree or of a bamboo stick, whose two ends are joined by a strong high-tensioned string made either of skin or verve. The small bells which are tied to the string are struck by two slender wooden rods known as veesukol, to which beads are attached just above the grip of the hand. The songs sung mostly in Villu Paatu praise a god or tell a story.
c) Thampuru: Thampuru is a most prominent whine instrument in Carnatic Music. This is a long necked plucked lute. It is unfretted and round-bodied, with a hollow neck and four or five (rarely six) wire strings. The strings of the tambura are plucked one after another in a standard pattern, in order to create a tonic resonance field . At Folklore museum you can see Thampuru made with treated Pumpkin.
d) Violin:The Violin is not a traditional musical instrument of India. The history of violin does not originate in India. It emerged in its current form in Italy during the 16th century. It was imported from the West and was used with south Indian classical music for the first time during the 18th century.
e) Sitar: The credited to Amir Khusrau, the great musician and statesman at the court of the Khilji. The Sitar has delicate strings along with a gourd reverberating hollow generating a rich sound. common a plucked stringed instrument of North India.
f) Gettuvadyam is also known as Getchu vadyam or Gethu vadyam. It is a very rare instrument which is played in Southern part of India. Gettuvadyam is 2-3 feet long and is like a hammered lute. The Getchu Vadyam is like tambura which is supported at the neck and has four strings. Sometimes, it is used as the secondary instrument accompanying Mridangam
g) Pulluvar Veena: Instrument used by Pulluvar community during rituals offered to Serpent god. Pulluvanpattu is sung even now to please the snake-deities
h) Swarbat: A rare musical instrument used by royal ladies. Raja Ravi Varma in his painting a lady with Swarbat beautifully portrayed this musical instrument.
2. Vithatham/percussion instruments
a) Chenda: Generally known as Asura Vadyam in the shape of a hollow cylinder. Both ends of the chenda is covered with skin of cow and the outer with soft wood. This rigorous sound producing instrument is played with with hand and by using wooden sticks. Chenda usually accompanies Hindu religious art forms of Kerala like Kathakali, Koodiyattam, Panjavadyam & Melams.
b) Edakka: Edakka is a very auspicious musical instrument used inside the temple while singing near the temple sanctum/Sopanam. The different parts of the Edakka are 'Kutti' (main body made of wood), 'Vattom' - on either side made from the soft calf skin or Ulluri, depicts the sun and the moon. 'Tholkacha' (Kacha) the cloth slung over the left shoulder and the strings from which hangs the idakka and 'Jeevakol' ( there are 4 jeevakol in idakka, depicting the 4 vedas). From the jeevakol hangs 8 koduppukal on each side. 64 koduppukal from the 4 jeevakol depicts the 64 art forms. Vattom has 6 small holes depicting the six Shastras. Edakka also known as Devavadyam
c) Maddalam : Spherical shaped and carved drum made from wood of jackfruit tree , ends covered with hide and fastened with strings. The person playing it hung it around his waist & it is played with hand. Both sides produces different sounds. The maddalam is a vital instrument in Panchavadyam, Keli and Kathakali orchestra.
d) Mridangam : The South Indian musical instrument made of wood of Jack Fruit Tree. The word "mridangam" is derived from the two Sanskrit words "Mrid" (clay or earth) and "Ang" (body). Early mridangams were indeed made of hardened clay. With the development of the mridangam came the evolution of the tala (rhythmic) system..
e) Pulluvarkudam: A string instrument with percussion sound played with the hand.This instrument used in religious rituals like naga (serpants) worship. Pulluvarkkudam is accompanied with Pulluvan Veena.
f) Thimila : Thimila , a double headed drum in the shape of hour glass (ancient clock) is carved out of wood with both sides covered with calf skin and held together with strings. This is a percussion instrument used in temple Seeveli .The rhythmic sound of Thimila adds richness in Panchavadyam.
g) Thakil: Thakil is a percussion instrument, originated in Tamil Nadu, but widely used in Kerala. The left side of the drum is played with fingers fitted with metal caps, while the right side is played with slightly curved wooden sticks. Thakil is often played as an accompaniment to Nagaswaram, a wind instrument and forms part of temple ceremonies as well as auspicious occasions like marriages in the Hindu tradition.
h) Thappu: Thappu is a small sized drums used in kerala played with palms of both hands and is usually accompanied by traditional cymbals called the ilathaalam. Thappu does not have strings attached for adjusting the tone. . It is a circular drum with one end closed with cow skin membrane and the other end open.
j) Mizhavu: A large pot shape vessel with mouth covered by stretched hide and placed inside a wooden frame, played with hand used in performing arts like Koothu, Koodiyattam and Nangiar Koothu. The player strikes the hide with his bare hands to produce rhythmic notes. The 'mizhavu' is placed inside a wooden frame called the Mizhavana at the rear end of the stage.
k) Udukku : Udukku is a musical instrument usually played in temples. It is a hollow double ended drum which tapers towards the middle from either side, for ease of holding in hand. The player holds this percussion instrument in a horizontal position. The pitch of the instrument can be varied either by tightening or loosening the rope that gives tension for the leather surface
Metal Musical Instruments/ Khanam
a) Chengila: The chengila is a type of gong that helps the singer keep time in many traditional art forms of Kerala. A ringing sound is produced when it is struck with a stout wand when hung freely, while a flat tone is produced when it is in contact with the forearm that holds the instrument.
b) Elathalam: Elathalam is a musical instrument made of bronze resembles cymbals. Elathalam is played by keeping one part of the cymbal in left hand hand banging the other cymbal to the one in left hand. Even though this instrument is small by size, it does have more thickness than the common cymbal, and thus gives a distinct chime. This music instrument is used in Panjavadyam, Thayambaka, Kathakali etc
Sushiram/Wind blown instruments.
a) Kombu : A wind instrument in the shape of horn is made of brass or copper. It is usually played along with Panchavadyam, Pandi Melam, Panchari melam etc. This musical instrument is usually seen in Kerala state of south India.
b) Kozhal : A straight wind instrument used during festivals. The kuzhal is a traditional double reed wind instrument used in the south Indian state of Kerala similar to a nagaswaram . It is mainly used in Panchari Melam and Pandi Melam. It has a wooden body with a conical bore, at the end of which is affixed a brass bell. The player, who is almost always male, blows through a double reed and closes small holes with both hands.
c) Sanku/Conch: The royal symbol of kingdoms of Kochi & Travancore. Conch is used as a musical instrument in worship rituals or 'pooja' is made from a seashell. These are sometimes referred to as "shell trumpets" Using the conch shell or 'Shankhu' as a musical instrument is prevalent in the entire Indian sub continent. The natural shell is transformed into a musical conch by cutting off a closed end and creating an access into the spiral chamber..
The mesmeric musical instrument of Lord Krishna belongs to the wind family and produces a sweet sound. A person who plays the flute is known as a flautist or a flutist. A flute produces sound only when a stream of air is blown through it, which bounces in and out of its numerous holes.