Tripura's musical ensemble

When I was on a trip to Tripura recently, bowled as I was by the natural beauty of the place, what intrigued me was the love for music each and every person of the state shared. That, and the indigenous musical instruments they played.

There was music in every action of the native. It was an overwhelming experience for a music lover. If there’s one word that can describe my musical experience in there, it has to be ‘wow!’

The state of Tripura introduced me to simple, melodic instruments that were awe-inspiring. And, most of them were made of bamboo.

Attend any musical performance or gathering, one instrument you cannot miss is the flute. And there are varieties.

However, the one instrument that caught my attention was samui. Made of the hollow stem of bamboo, it comes in two types — with seven holes and eight holes. The best part of samui is that the instrument is designed by the player himself, depending on the position of his fingers while playing it.

Another instrument made of bamboo is the sarinda, a string instrument with an oval-shaped, hollow resonating chamber covered with a thin skin. It resembles our musical instrument mandolin, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it during a performance.

Piqued by curiosity, I asked my guide to elaborate on it, and I was quite surprised to learn that the skin the instrument was covered with was iguana’s, while the bow used to play it was made of horse hair.

In fact, earlier, the strings used in it were nothing but animal’s gut! Fortunately, the sarinda I got to feel and touch had metal strings. Muga thread is also used for this purpose.

Sarinda is tuned by either tightening or loosening the strings with the three pegs fitted to the instrument, I was told.

Another popular string instrument is the chongpreng, also made of bamboo, believed to be a favourite among tribal musicians. An equally cherished musical instrument is lebang-boomani, which is nothing but bamboo clappers.

The other musical instruments of Tripura are the dangdoo, a unique combination of the wind and the percussion; kham (drum), the wakhang, the wakhorop and the uakhrap.

So, the next time you want to experience unique musical instruments and the melodies they generate, you know where to head — to Tripura.

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