Indian Musical Instruments

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This is by no means a fully comprehensive list, but Indian music would include many of the items on the list below;-

Further lists on our J-R and S-V lists.



A pair of woodwind instruments adopted by Punjabi, Sindhi, Kutchi, Rajasthani and Baloch folk musicians.

The player blows into the two flutes simultaneously, with the quick recapturing of breath on each beat creating a bouncing, swinging rhythm.

Used in traditional and folk music of Punjab. It has also become a popular choice in Punjabi "fusion" and Bhangra music.



A side blown flute found in many parts of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. This musical instrument is common in North Indian or Hindustani classical music.

Traditionally made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or eight finger holes, but modern designs come in ivory, fiberglass and various metals.



Chimta literally means tongs.

Over time it has evolved into a traditional percussion instrument of South Asia by the permanent addition of small brass jingles.

This instrument is often used in popular Punjabi folk songs, Bhangra music and the Sikh religious music known as Gurbani Kirtan.



A small two-headed drum, used in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. In Hinduism, the damru is known as the instrument of the deity Shiva, and is said to be created by Shiva to produce spiritual sounds by which the whole universe has been created and regulated.

In Tibetan Buddhism, the damaru is used as an instrument in tantric practices.



Dhol can refer to any one of a number of similar types of double-headed drum widely used, with regional variations, throughout the Indian subcontinent.

Its range of distribution in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan primarily includes northern areas such as the Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Kashmir, Sindh, Assam Valley, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Konkan, Goa, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The range stretches westward as far as eastern Afghanistan. The Punjabi dhol is perhaps best known abroad due to its prominent place in the rhythm of popular Punjabi folkhop music.



A South Asian two-headed hand-drum.

It may have traditional cotton rope lacing, screw-turnbuckle tensioning or both combined, steel rings are used for tuning or pegs are twisted inside the laces.

The drum is pitched, depending on size, with an interval of perhaps a perfect fourth or perfect fifth between the two heads.

It is related to the larger Punjabi Dhol and the smaller Dholki.



An Indian string instrument found in two forms throughout the Indian subcontinent.

It is a relatively young instrument, being only about 300 years old. It is found in North India, primarily Punjab, where it is used in Sikh music and Hindustani classical compositions and in West Bengal. The Esraj is a modern variant of the Dilruba, differing slightly in structure.




A percussion instrument used in the Carnatic music of South India. A variant played in Punjab and known as gharha as is a part of Punjabi folk traditions. Its analogue in Rajasthan is known as the madga and pani mataqa ("water jug").

It is one of the most ancient percussion instruments of South India, it is simply a clay pot with narrow mouth. From the mouth, it slants outwards to form a ridge. Made mainly of clay backed with brass or copper filings with a small amount of iron filings, the pitch of the ghatam varies according to its size. The pitch can be slightly altered by the application of plasticine clay or water.

Although the ghatam is the same shape as an ordinary Indian domestic clay pot, it is made specifically to be played as an instrument. The tone of the pot must be good and the walls should be of even thickness to produce an even tone.

Ghatams are mostly manufactured in Manamadurai, a place near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Though this instrument is manufactured in other places like Chennai and Bangalore, too, Manamadurai ghatams have special tonal quality. It is believed that the mud is of special quality. The Manamadurai ghaṭam is a heavy, thick pot with tiny shards of brass mixed into the clay. This type of ghaṭam is harder to play but produces a sharp metallic ringing sound which is favored by some players.



A simple hand shook percussion instrument, they are used in Latin-Jazz, as well as Indian music, in fact, many other genres have been known to make use of the sound they can produce.

Indian Musical Instruments J-R

Indian Musical Instruments S-V