Non-Membranous Percussion (Ghan) Indian Instruments

By Jae Allen
Pictures of the manjira have been found on temple walls.

Indian music has a traditional system by which instruments are classified. Ghan are non-membranous percussion instruments, and avanaddh are membranous percussion instruments. Wind instruments are known as sushir, bowed strings are vitat and plucked strings are tat. The ghan class of instruments is one of the oldest in India.

Andelu

Andelu are hollow, ring-shaped brass instruments that are important in the music and storytelling of the "Burra Katha" tradition. The hollow brass ring is filled with metal balls that rattle together and produce a metallic jingling sound. Andelu are typically between 1.5 and 2 inches in diameter. Andelu are typically played in pairs -- a performer can put both andelu rings over the thumb of one hand and then strike both andelu with his other hand. Alternatively, he can place one andelu on the thumb and another andelu on a different finger of the same hand before striking the two pieces of metal together.

Chimpta

Also known as musical fire tongs, chimptas are made from a fire tong with metal jingles attached. The chimpta is often used in Punjabi folk music.

Ghatam

Ghatam is a simple clay pot that is found in south Indian classical music. The pot is struck with the hands, and the pitch produced can be made higher or lower by covering or uncovering the ghatam's opening hole with the performer's stomach.

Ghungharu

Ghungharu are strings of metal bells worn around the ankles of a dancer. Some performers also play the ghungharu with their hands.

Gol Kathi (Dancing Stick)

The gol kathi is found in western India. It is a simple long stick with metal jingles attached to the tip. Dancers use the gol kathi to accompany their own dances.

Jal Tarang

Jal tarang is a set of several water-filled china bowls The performer strikes the jal tarang with a wooden mallet to produce the sound.

Kartal

Kartal are wooden blocks with metal jingles mounted to the wood. They are played in pairs and typically have holes or rings through which the performer can place her fingers. Kartal are beaten together in the performer's hands to provide rhythmic accompaniment to folk and light musical styles.

Kasht Tarang

Kasht tarang is a keyboard percussion instrument with wooden notes. It is similar to a small Western xylophone or marimba, although the kasht tarang does not have resonators beneath its notes. It is a relatively rare instrument in India.

Manjira

Manjira is a set of small cymbals, commonly used in dance music and the Indian devotional songs known as bhajans. The manjira is a very old instrument, as demonstrated by its presence in ancient temple wall paintings.

Nout

The nout is the northern Indian equivalent to the ghatam. Like the ghatam, the nout is a large clay pot. It is used as a percussion instrument in the Kashmir area of India.

Murchang

The murchang is a kind of Jew's harp which is traditionally used in south Indian performances. In a musical context, the murchang is often played together with the ghatam and mridangam.

About the Author

Jae Allen has been a writer since 1999, with articles published in "The Hub," "Innocent Words" and "Rhythm." She has worked as a medical writer, paralegal, veterinary assistant, stage manager, session musician, ghostwriter and university professor. Allen specializes in travel, health/fitness, animals and other topics.