The legacy of folk music—the lifeblood of our villages—is passed down from generation to generation. Various words, tunes and musical instruments have enriched it over the time.While western instruments like harmonium, violin, guitar, bugle were introduced during the British era, the appreciation of native musical instruments has never diminished among the folk artists.
These instruments are always made with easily available materials like bottle gourd, wax gourd shells, earthenware pots, pitchers, leather, bamboo, wood, etc. Unfortunately, many of these instruments are now lost in obscurity.
Some of the musical instruments are preserved in museums and some are preserved by passionate private collectors. One such private collector is Rezaul Karim Aslam of Mymensingh. In his possession, he has over 600 rare musical instruments.
Aslam's father Jalal Uddin and grandfather Nawab Ali were involved in the business of musical instruments and Aslam has taken the mantle from them. He has a musical instrument shop called Nawab & Co on Durgabari Road in Mymensingh.
He started collecting rare musical instruments from 2006. Besides collecting, Aslam is also conducting research on these.
The music enthusiast is also working on to build a museum on the ground floor of a church opposite the city's AnjumanEidgah grounds. The museum will house at least 600 species of his musical instrument collections.
Some of the rare musical instruments in Aslam's collection are:
Sarinda is used in ancient and folk music. About two feet in length, sarinda is made of wood. Its middle part is slightly wider and covered with skin, the rest is empty. The top part is very crafted. Three wires are used in it. Horse tail hair is used in the bow. Sarinda is used in murshidi songs.
Commonly known as maheru, mekura is a musical instrument made of copper and brass, used with legs in jarigan, palagan, folk songs, group songs and ghetu songs. In group songs, every member wears it on one leg.
At the house of Bhawal Raja in Gazipur, a musical instrument called sur sangraha was used in GaziKaluChampabatipala along with folk music festivals. The instrument is made of wood and string.
Commonly known as "chati" and used in folk and devotional music, "premjuri" was used in boating, jari and sari songs. It is made of a lovely wooden frame with jingles inside the frame.
Kara and Dundavi (Nakkara)
Kara and dundavi are ancient folk instruments. Kara is like a bowl which was made of clay in ancient times. Later, it was built with wood and metal. It is played with two sticks hanging around the neck or placed on the ground.
Dundavi shell is made of pottery, copper or brass. It is often made of wood. It was used in war to signal danger or to gather people during various announcements.
Khamak (Ananda Lahari)
The common name of khamak is gubgubi. It is made of wood in the shape of a drum but opens on one side. It is played on the thread that comes out of this open part. It has been used in jari and bhatiali songs for a long time.
Mridangam is conventionally known as "khol". The main part of the musical instrument is made of terracotta. The two ends of the clay shell are slightly narrower. The thick skin of a cow or buffalo is used on both sides of the mouth. It is used in kirtan music and Manipuri dance.
Surbahar is a string instrument that looks like a setar but has a lower tone. It is 51 inches long. It uses a dried gourd as a resonator and has a neck with very wide frets, which allow a glissando of six notes on the same fret through the method of pulling. The longest part is usually made of teak wood.
Popularly known as Ektara, it is mainly used by baul, bairagi and bhikku. The instrument is intertwined with baul songs. It is made by attaching the string to the shell of a dry bottle gourd or pumpkin.
Many people mistake it for ektara. A string is attached to the shell of a long bottle gourd using bamboo in it. It is a widely used and the most technologically advanced ancient musical instrument of Bengal.
Sarangi is used with mythological, religious and devotional songs. Its frame is made of a piece of wood carved about two feet long. The bottom of the piece of wood is carved like a shell which is covered with skin.
The common name of tubri is "been", used in village songs and by snake charmers. Tubri is made by attaching a pair of bamboo tubes to the shell of a small bottle gourd.
Dugdugi is also known as Damru. According to the scriptures, it is a musical instrument of the Hindu god Shiva. Damru is commonly used in Shiva's gajan (festival), monkey dance, bear game, and in snake charming.
Used as a solo instrument in dances, played on the lap. Pakhwaj has two faces. One face is slightly larger than the other. The larger face is in the left hand and the small one is in the right hand, for a right-handed person. It has skin covering both the faces.
The flute, made of bamboo, is one of the oldest and most popular musical instruments. There are different names for flutes such as Arbanshi, Kadbanshi, Tiprabanshi, Harinabanshi etc.
Kashor and Kashi
The instrument is shaped like a little plate made with bell metal. It has two holes in the head, where a rope is tied and hung with the left hand and played with a stick in the right hand.
Khanjani and Dof
Khanjani is played with drums in jari and ghatu dance-songs. There is another musical instrument like Khanjani known as the dof. However, it is relatively large. Muslims introduced dof into this country.
Duggi or Baya
Duggi is like a bowl, with a leather canopy over its face. The bauls play it with the palm and index finger of the left hand tied tightly to the waist on the left.
Madal is a popular musical instrument of the indigenous Santals. It is mentioned in the sixteenth-century poem "Goraksh Vijay". Like mridang, madal is also made of clay but is somewhat obese.
In ancient times shinga was a war instrument. In the past, shinga was made from buffalo horns but currently, metal shinga is used. The large shinga is called ramshinga, made of brass or copper.
Khartal is made of iron. It is made of two separate seven-to-eight-inches-long iron bars. Sounds are made by holding the two bars with the right hand. Khartal helps to maintain rhythm and beat. Mainly, devotees and fakirs use it more.
Taal is used in Vaishnava chanting along with khol. Taal is a small dish-shaped instrument made of brass, played like a mondira. It is played by pressing and releasing the palm with two pieces of ropes tied with index fingers.
Apart from these instruments, Aslam has many others including krishnakathi, champarang, davandi, chikara, yogi sarangi, mugarban, accordian, ghera, andpena.