(Last Updated on : 07/03/2011)
Pungi is a wind instrument in India which is also known as the snake-charmer's wife. While it is extremely common, it goes under different names: Pungi, Been, Tumbi, Nagasar, Sapurer Bansi are the words used in northern areas; Nagasvaram, Mahudi, Pungi and Pambatti Kuzhal are the words in the southern parts of the country. The instrument was initially developed as an instrument to accompany folk music in India.
Structure of Pungi
Whatever be the differences in name, the construction is generally the same throughout the country. Usually the Pungi is about one to two feet in length. As a matter of tradition, the Pungi is made from a dry bottle-gourd. It consists of a small calabash which serves as an air reservoir and to which are attached reed or bamboo pipes. The Pungi has two reed pipes known as Jivala. One of the reeds is for the melody while the other is for the drone. At the top there is one tube inserted into the gourd. This is a simple open flue into which the snake-charmer blows. The air collects in the bottle gourd and passes out through two pipes fixed at its lower end. Each of these has a single beating reed and gives out the sound; but one of them acts only as a drone and the melody is played on the other. In recent specimens one may come across a long metallic tube, besides the two bamboo ones. This also functions as a drone. The neck of the gourd is often seen as being carved. This is mainly for aesthetic reasons. There are no pauses when the Pungi is played. Thus the most common technique used for playing the Pungi is that of circular breathing.
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