Komal Bansuri™ : Go Chromatic - the Keyless Way

It being a keyless instrument, playing of komal swaras or half notes on bansuri is done by partial covering of holes, which can be quite challenging. Komal bansuri obviates the need for half holing and lets you play chromatics with ease.

It was in the year 2005 or 2006 that I first started to make flutes tuned to custom scales like Bhairav, Bhairavi, Kafi, Khamaj etc.. It was an excellent way to play difficult to finger scales without the need of half-holing needed to produce the required komal swaras (half notes). The position of tonic note Sa was kept at the traditional first 3 fingers down which kept the fingering simple and easy to remember - as opposed to transposing you Sa on to another note for ease of fingering.

However, as great as they are in performing their specific function, custom tuned flutes have limited applicability because they are optimized to play one particular scale. In pursuit of a design having a more universal application, after many many design iterations over several years, I finally came up with a really exciting design.

komal bansuri in key of G and D

I chose to call this new design, Komal Bansuri. Komal literally means soft or delicate in Sanskrit but in musical context, as in komal swara, it denotes a half or partial musical interval.

Komal Bansuri has 8 tone holes for fingering. - four closed by the left and four by the right hand. The left or the hand closest to the blowing hole uses three fingers and thumb. Whereas the right or the hand farther away from the blowing hole uses four fingers including pinkie finger. The tonic Sa is taken to be at all holes closed position. Playing of difficult to finger scales like Bhairavi, Darbari, Charukeshi, Bairagi, Kafi etc. is rendered quite straight forward and easy - without the need of any partial closing of holes. Komal Bansuri can be easily adopted to play musical styles like Jazz and Blues also.

The magic of this flute lies not only in its special tuning but also in its overall design that supports higher harmonics in abundance and helps retain clarity even in very high notes with relative ease. A bamboo lip-plate clad embouchure further augments the harmonics, thickens the sound and brings in a darker timbre.

Should you have any questions about Komal Bansuri or would like to order one, please contact me.