The tradition of music in Haryana goes back to the Vedic
times, and it is the only state in India to have towns and villages named
after different ragas.
Haryana is rich in folk music, whose roots are firmly entrenched in the classical music of yore. The 'Sringar Rasa' (based on love songs) has an indirect association with renowned ragas like Bhairavi, Jayjaywanti, 'Gara' (a Persian style), 'Khamaj' and 'Kafi'. However, the folk singer has no idea what a raga is and just goes out and sings.
Folk music of Haryana is broadly divided into two categories namely the classical form and country side music. The classical form of singing is basically on songs of mythology - 'Allah', 'Jaimal' - 'Phatta', 'Barahmas', 'Teej' songs, 'Phag' and 'Holi' songs. The country side music includes legendary tales such as Purana - 'Bhagata' in 'Rag Maand', ceremonial songs, seasonal songs, ballads etc.
Folk Songs depict the life of the people in hue and colours, with joys and sorrows and fit into all occasions portraying life. Whether it is meeting or separation, birth, marriage, romantic months of 'Phalgun' or 'Sawan', harvest festivals or rain etc., the befitting songs exalt the heart and emotions with verse and rhyme.
Mainly string instruments are used to make music. The sarangi is generally preferred. For the wind instruments, the 'been' and the 'bansuri' provide lilting tunes in tandem with the 'dholak', a drum usually played with the palms or little sticks. A 'matka' (earthen pitcher) may replace the dholak in certain areas to form the backbeat.
The Musical Community
The Jogis, Bhats and Sangis are the people who have made folk music popular in Haryana. Though, their numbers are gradually decreasing rather they are at the verge of extinction, yet, the rich and melodious tradition of folk music still remains as a part of Haryana life.
The instruments used by the people of Haryana are simple but loud. The Jogis prefer the sarangi to form the musical backdrop to their songs, which revolve around tales of chivalry and valour. There are other instruments, which are used along with singing. The 'shehnai' (a flute-like instrument played mainly at weddings), 'shankh' (conch shell) harmonium, 'damru' (a small palm-held drum with strings attached to beads which hit the sides when shaken), 'nagara', 'ghungru', 'tasha', 'khanjri' and 'manjira'. Musical geniuses, these Haryanvis; they create music even with matchsticks, papaya, the fruit, the hard core of a mango and a strip of wood.
Dholak: Dholak is a small percussion instrument often used by women and professional musicians. The main body of the Dholak is a shell made of wood and the heads are mounted with skin. A rope or thread is passed around the shell and over the braces to adjust the pitch of sound produced by striking the faces of the skin with hands to produce beats. Some times two sticks are tied to a finger or a ring is put around the thumb to produce an additional effect.
Khartals: or wooden cymbals are two pieces of hard wood made flat on one side and round on the other. Fixed in the fingers of one hand the flat surfaces are struck with each other to produce percussive sounds. Sometimes, small bells or metallic rings are also fixed at the back of each Khartal to produce a tinkling effect.
Gharah: This is simple earthen pitcher and is used as an accompaniment to provide rhythm with folk singing. The open mouth is covered with stretched rubber and is played with a small stick. Raagni singers often use it with Nagara and Dholak to complement the musical beat.
Manjira: Manjiras (cymbals) are made of brass and are either flat or cup-shaped. These are used in pairs of different sizes and shapes. They are played in classical as well as folk and devotional music as an accompaniment. Two cymbals are tied together with a long chord and are struck with each other on the front sides to produce very pleasant tinkling sounds.
Been: This wind instrument is used primarily by the snake charmers. But it has found its permanent place, now, in Haryanvi dances too. Made from dried pumpkin, it has two joint pipes to produce different notes. The player of Been has to produce continuous flow of air by breathing into it.
Deru: Deru is a Dholak-like percussion instrument made of a wooden shell and skin mounted on both sides. In fact, it is a large Damru, which is struck with sticks to produce rhythmic beats. Deru is used by folk performers as well as wandering devotees.
Chimta: It is a twang like instrument made of two long metallic strips joined on one side. The strips are often embellished with rings, which produce tinkling sounds when the Chimta is played. To produce percussive sounds, one holds the joint in one hand and plays strips between the fingers by striking one with the other. The Chimta is often used as an accompaniment in folk musical performances.