Modern lifestyle has made us busy than ever before. People today are bored with this robotic mundane life where the word ‘experience’ has no or little value. Enjoyment has limited options with maximum focus on shopping malls. International Museum day, 18th May was the kick I needed to get out of this mundane routine. I got this opportunity to visit Museum of Performing Arts – Gallery of Musical Instruments by Sangeet Natak Academy- India’s national academy for music, dance and drama
Visit to the Museum in peak summer time of Delhi? Here comes the question laced beautifully with doubts. Not anyone’s fault entirely. We all have been made to believe that museums are for serious individuals. I feel, museums are exciting; there is so much action out there. Museums present a great way of learning about our past, our traditions, rich culture and communities. They open a door for us to see and experience our rich heritage, our legacy.
Collection at the Museum
The place is not just about musical instruments, there is so much more to it. These musical instruments give a deeper insight into the lifestyle of communities who were using such fantastic musical instruments. The museum is doing fantastic work in preservation and promotion of performing arts in India
The staff at the museum was courteous and ready to guide. The curator of the museum is a knowledgeable person and it was wonderful to interact with him. Such wonderful artefacts are stored and maintained with name tags and other relevant information. Given the huge collection of artefacts in the museum, one can sense that there might be a space crunch
A food for thought: real estate companies can come together and build one such place to house these items. This will be a wonderful gesture, isn’t it?
Coming back to the collections, they will surely leave you spellbound. The Museum boasts of a large collection of musical instruments, both folk and classical. The Museum has done tremendous work in preserving these amazing artefacts.
These musical instruments are a work of fine craftsmanship. Some are prepared from dried vegetables, others have human skull element involved. Shows the fine craftsmanship of the people back in those days. Difficult to see these artefacts in live action in present times but if one is lucky enough to witness any local fairs, possessions where villagers take them out and perform. Communities in different regions were using the same instruments but with different names and some minor changes in the construction style which of course produced a much distinct sound. For example: Bansuri, Damaru etc
Looking at these instruments one can easily decipher the close relation of humans with the natural surroundings. Earlier humans used to live in harmony with nature and flourish. Present generation have a lot to work towards preservation of environment.
Some of the instruments from the collection are (it is difficult to document each and every instrument here in this blog):
- DAMARU(Membranophone) LADDAKH: A small hour-glass shaped wooden drum with both the faces covered with skin. A coloured silk cloth tied around the drum waist. Also attached are two knotted cords to strike the heads. Used by Lamas in religious ceremonies.
- KHUNG(Aerophone) MANIPUR: A bowl-shaped gourd with a long neck in which a bamboo nozzle a three bamboo tubes with finger holes are inserted. Held in both hands, blown through the nozzle. Used by the folk musicians of Manipur and neighbouring regions for melodic accompaniment
- TARPU(Aerophone) GUJARAT: An elongated full length gourd fitted with two equal length bamboo reed pipes with a megaphone attached at the open end. Single beating reed. Blown through the mouth piece. Finger holes, three on each pipe are manipulated by both the hands. Used in group dance and folk ensembles in Gujarat and neighbouring regions.
- KAHL(Aerophone) HIMACHAL PRADESH: A brass tube of straight bore having double bents. Saucer shaped bell and integrated mouth rest. Blown through the mouthpiece. Used in folk music and also in processions at the time of festivals. It can also be termed as traditional version of saxophone.
Want to get a more intimate experience of listening to musical instruments? Head over to an audio kiosk stationed within the museum hall. You need to request the managing staff there, they are always happy to oblige. Personal photography is a strict NO and we as visitors should respect that.
*photographs here are used from the e-book of the museum which is readily available on it’s website.
For complete list of instruments please visit the following link and download the e-book
Villagers, gift excavated artefacts to the museum authorities whenever they find anything underneath the fields. That’s a unique method to build collection and have community participation, says Mr. Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, a well-known heritage activist.
To move forward, it is imperative to understand our glorious past, how we progressed. These musical instruments give us a glimpse into our rich and diverse culture. This visit to the museum has given the inner dormant inquisitive soul a fresh lease. The journey to experience museums soaked in history and legacy has just begun.
What are you waiting for?
Go and visit this museum and surround yourself with rhythms of our glorious past.
Go enrich yourself.
For more on museum, kindly visit: http://www.sangeetnatak.gov.in/sna/museums.html
*A special thanks to TCBG(Travel Correspondents & Blogger Group) group especially Ms. Alka Kaushik, a travel journalist and heritage lover, for motivating us to visit this museum.
Address of the museum:
Snageet Natak Academi
35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi – 110001
(011) 23387276, 47, 48
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