Learn to Play Bansuri - Part 6 - Playing Half Notes

Uploaded by sangtarheer on 24.02.2012

Today we are going to explore how to play half notes on a Bansuri.
We saw that Bansuri plays a natural scale from here (From open note).
But, this is not considered the Sa (root or Centre) of a Bansuri, this is (4th hole) considered the Sa. This is a Bansuri's center.
For example as I have this flute here, it is an 'A' flute.
It means this hole plays an 'A', not this one. Although a Bansuri plays a natural scale from here.
But its center is considered here (4th hole).
That is because there is a rule in Indian music that whichever composition or Raag you are going to play,
you must have its lower octave's fifth (Lower Pa) and upper octave's third (Ga) available on your instrument.
So now, if we take the lowest note on this Bansuri and make it our lower fifth (lower Pa),
Then Pa (5th), Dha (6th), Ni (7th), Sa (root). This is the first note on this Bansuri that could be used as a root note.
Okay, now we already know that the Bansuri doesn't play a natural scale from here.
The Bansuri plays Kalyan or Lydian Mode from here. How?
Bansuri plays Lydian from here.
But we have to make this our center. So we have to find a way to play unavailable notes on the flute.
We can't achieve it with the mode change method, we have to play half notes on the Bansuri.
Now we are going to see that how these half notes are played.
I would like to explain that there are seven holes (notes) on a Banusri.
One is right here, either there is an extra hole here or some instruments play open from here, and there are 6 other holes.
It means 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7; A Bansuri naturally plays 7 notes.
Out of these seven intervals, two intervals are already semitones (half notes).
For example one is here (3-4 hole)
This is a semitone (half note) and one is here (7th-8th place).
Here, where bansuri's octave is changed, we cannot fit another half note, so this is not a problem.
However make a note that there is no extra half note in here either.
And now there are 5 leftover holes.
Those are 1 (1st), 2 (2nd), 3(4th), 4 (5th) and 5 (6th).
We are going to play half notes on these five holes. And we already know that there are five 'vikrat' notes (flats or sharps) in an octave;
re komal, ga komal, ma tivar, dha komal and ni komal.
It means that these five Vikrat notes are going to be produced on the flute.
As you know, these are the same five black keys on a Piano keyboard (Harmonium).
Now you got it, it is all the same.
How to play half note on these five holes?
Now, there are two ways to play a half note.
See here, one is by lifting your finger this way.
If you lift it up all the way, it will play a tone, if you lift just a little (adjusted by ear) then it will play a semitone.
And the second method is by lifting you finger this way.
See here, if you just straighten your finger it would play a semitone and when you lift it up all the way it will play a tone.
Both methods are correct, you can adopt whichever suits you.
But I've seen that many times the lower two holes produce a lot of 'air' (sound) when played with this method (straightening your finger).
So sometimes we play halves on these with this method. It depends on the instrument.
And these three upper holes, these can be played with this method.
A half note can be played with this method.
However, this method (lifting finger straight up) is very easy to play.
For example if you were to play half notes from this hole with this method, see how easy it is.
Very easy. If you would play with this method, you would have to move your hand more.
But when we are using a note in a composition, then it can be render in any method.
Now let's see, that if Bansuri can produce half notes from these five holes, then how many notes are on a Bansuri in an octave.
Open 1, half 2, open 3, half 4, open 5, this is half to begin with, so open 6, half 7, open 8, half 9, open 10, half 11, open 12.
This makes it all twelve notes on a Bansuri (in an octave).
What does this mean?
As we discussed in the last video that Bansuri is a diatonic instrument, meaning it plays only seven notes of an octave,
but now we saw that it can produce all twelve notes.
The instruments that play all twelve notes are known as Chromatic instruments.
It means when we learn to play half notes on a Bansuri,
then it becomes a chromatic instrument from a diatonic instrument.
What could be better than that? It means anything can be played on any Bansuri from any note in an octave.
Now, we are going to see by starting from here that how the half notes are played.
I will demonstrate by playing all twelve note sequentially up and down.
I am going to keep them short.
But you have to learn them by playing long, straight notes without any vibration or modulation first.
Later you can do whatever you want.
Let's see here, how to play all 12 notes of an octave on a Bansuri.
And upper octave note Sa.
Avroh (descending).
There these are.
Now, if this is our root note, we know that Bansuri play Kalyan (Lydian mode) from here.
It means to play a natural scale from here, we have to play forth by playing a half note, here.
We have to render it flat from sharp.
And only just that note is going to be changed.
Just by playing a half note here, Bansuri will play a natural scale from here.
This is our Sa (root).
It was forth sharp here before.
We have brought it half step down.
[Plays a Natural scale]
[Plays a Natural scale composition (also uses third and seventh flat once each)]
So that way we can play a natural scale from here very nicely.
Now if you would work hard on these half notes, you would be able to play any scale,
Thaat or Raag from any note on a flute.
Try to learn most Raags and scales from this note.
Later, if transposition is required to play a certain composition,
that could also be done (swapping a different size Bansuri).
Now our basic knowledge of Bansuri, basic information about Bansuri ends here.
In the future videos we will see what are some of the advance methods of playing certain scales or Raags on a Bansuri
and how to master them.