The vast array of Rajasthani folk instruments is made ingeniously from a variety of materials. Shells of dried gourds of all shapes and sizes are used for gorse stems or bamboos segments for flutes and baked clay pots for drums. Conch shells are blown to produce full, resonant sounds, sticks create rasping rhythms and ghungroos (brass bells) jingle on waists and ankles.
- Sarangi -
The Sarangi is the most important folk musical instrument and is found in various forms in Rajasthan.
- Rawanhathha -
The Rawanhathha of the Thori or Nayak Bhopas is probably the earliest instrument played with a bow, and this humble instrument could well be the precursor of the violin. It has two main strings and a variable number of supporting strings, with a belly of half coconut shell and a body of bamboo. The bow has ghungroos (bells) attached to it. The music is staccato and accompanied by the syncopated singing of the Bhopa and the Bhopan. The Jogis of Abu Road area use a smaller version of the Rawanhatha which has its two main strings tuned to the ‘Sa’ of the Indian octave and a third of steel to ‘Pa’. The Langas use the Sindhi sarangi. It is made up of four main wires, seven jharas and seventeen tarafs. Others members of the family are the Gujratan, Jogia and Dhani sarangis. The Surinda, favourite of the Manganiyars, is a small sarangi. The Chikara, used by the Meos and Jogis of Mewat is a replica of the Sarangi.
- Kamaycha -
The Kamaycha or Kamaicha has a big, circular resonator which produces a deep booming sound. It is used exclusively by the Manganiyars in the Jaisalmer-Barmer region. So deeply is the sense of tune and rhythm in the mind and ear of the folk musicians, that they need nothing more than intuition and a highly trained ear to tune their instruments
- Ektaara -
The Ektaara is also a single string instrument, but it is mounted on the belly of a gourd attached to a body made of bamboo. The Galaleng Jogis of Dungarpur and Banswara have twin gourde Kendru appears akin to the ancient Kinnari Veena, and it has often been called the Keengri in Rajasthan literature. The Chautara, also called the Tandoora or Nissan, is also a popular five stringed drones and beat instrument used as an accompaniment to devotional music and for the Terathali dance.
- Morchang -
The morchang resembles a jew’s-harp. The plaintive, melancholic twang of the morchang adds a desolate dimension to the songs of the Manganiyars.
- Algoza -
These are the numerous instruments that are played by blowing into them. Rajasthan folk music has many variations of the flute. The Peli of the Meos of Alwar is a short flute, to the music of which the Ratwai is sung in a high pitch. The Algoza, common in the Tonk-Ajmer areas, is two such flutes played together. The Kathodis use the Pawri, a flute of bamboo held vertically. The Bhils use a short flute in some of their dances. Ceremonial music is provided by Nafeeri and Surnai, both rudimentary forms of the shehnai. Then there is the Poongi of the snake charmers and its adaptation by the Langas called the Murla. Both have two tubes, one for the notes and the other for the drone.
- Satara -
The Satara of the Langas has one long flute and another flute to provide the drone. The Narh or Nad produces music most evocative of the desert. It is a vertical flute with a single long hollow tube, into which the player whistles, at the same time gurgling a song in his throat or actually singing intermittently. The effect is haunting.
- Poongi -
Then there is the Poongi of the snake charmers and its adaptation by the Langas called the Murla. Both have two tubes, one for the notes and the other for the drone.
- Matka -
The Matkas of Pabuji and the Ghada are a pair of huge earthenware pots, their mouths covered with membrane. One player plays each Matka, and the Bhopas use it to accompany their singing. The whole effect is heightened by the graceful dance of the player.
- Erucussion (Chung & Dhol) -
Different kinds of drums form this group of musical instruments. They are of various kinds; the two sided drums, the shallow rimmed and single faced. The twin faced drums include the tiny Damru or Dugdugi of the Kalbeliyas and Madari. The Bhils use the Maadal , a folk version of ‘Moisang’ which has a body of baked clay and gives a booming sound. The single faced and shallow rimmed drums are the Daf and the Chang. The Chang is the biggest, and with a parchment pasted on its rim, is a big favourite of the Holi revelers.