by David Courtney working tools


Part 1 - Introduction - This Page
Part 2 - Parts of the Bansuri
Part 3 - Technique of the Bansuri

Bansuri and venu are common Indian flutes.  They are typically made of bamboo or reed.  There are two varieties; transverse and fipple.  The transverse variety is nothing more than a length of bamboo with holes cut into it.  This is the preferred flute for classical music because the embouchure gives added flexibility and control.  The fipple variety is found in the folk and filmi styles, but seldom used for serious music.  This is usually considered to be just a toy because the absence of any embouchure limits the flexibility of the instrument.  The flute may be called many things in India: bansi, bansuri, murali, venu and many more.

There are two main types; bansuri and venu.  The bansuri is used in the North Indian system.  It typically has six holes, however there has been a tendency in recent years to use seven holes for added flexibility and correctness of pitch in the higher registers.  It was previously associated only with folk music, but today it is found in Hindustani classical, filmi, and numerous other genre.  Venu is the south Indian flute and is used in the Carnatic system.  It typically has eight holes.  The venu is very popular in all south Indian styles.


Cultural and Religious Significance

The bansuri is not just a musical instrument, because it has a great cultural and religious significance among Hindus.  It is an instrument associated with Lord Krishna.  Numerous common names reflect these epitaphs of Krishna.  Common examples are: Venugopal, Bansilal, Murali, Muralidhar, etc.  Furthermore, in traditional Indian metaphysics, it is noted how remarkable it is the way the life force (pran, or literally "breath") is converted into a musical resonance (sur).



What brand should I buy? - Brands have no meaning for this as well as most Indian Instruments.  It is all about the maker.  The same maker can make flutes for different stores who slap their brand on it.  By the same token, stores will slap their brands upon different instruments made by different makers.

What size should I buy? - The size is determined by what key you want the instrument to be in.  A lower key requires a larger flute while a higher key requires a smaller length.

I am confused by the differing numbers of holes.  Which one should I buy? - Venus have eight holes while bansuris have six or seven holes.

Is there anything else I should know? - Venus and bansuris will not last forever.  A poorly made or poorly maintained flute may last for a few months, while a well made and well maintained one may last for years.  But still, they have a rather limited lifespan.

If you start to play this, you will find yourself having many flutes.  The combination of having different instruments for different keys and the limited lifespan of the instruments means that purchasing flutes will be a never ending process.


Part 1 - Introduction - This Page
Part 2 - Parts of the Bansuri
Part 3 - Technique of the Bansuri

Selected Videos (Performances and Documentaries)



Raga Shivranjani on Bansuri (Indian Bamboo Flute)




Raga Jog


Banglar Banshi - By Jalal Ahmad


K Bhaskaran on flute - Indian traditional classical


Dhun - Folk tune on Bansuri


Music from the desert, Jaisalmer, India


Sujay Bobade / Raga Marwa


Part 1 - Introduction - This Page
Part 2 - Parts of the Bansuri
Part 3 - Technique of the Bansuri





© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 David and Chandrakantha Courtney

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