Instruments of South India

I will give you a brief info on the instruments used in Carnatic music. These instruments were invented and made in the southern part of India mainly Tamil Nadu.


This is called Ghatam.The percussive instrument is pretty much an earthen clay pot. The range of sounds is incredible considering the high pitches sharp strokes to the bass sounds modulated.






This is the Kanjira.This is a South Indian version of the tambourine.It has a snake-skin head and jingles.








The primary drum used to accompany classical performances. The drum is made of heavy wood.This is a percussion instrument. First mentioned in Hindu literature: Lord Nandi first played this instrument for Lord Shiva.







Thampura is a long-necked plucked lute – a stringed instrument found in different forms and in many places. The body shape of the thampura somewhat resembles that of the sithar, but it has no frets – and the strings are played open. One or more thampuras may accompany other musicians or vocalists. It has four or five in rare cases six wire strings, which are plucked one after another in a regular pattern to create a harmonic resonance on the basic note (sruthi).





 This is called Sruthi petti. You can get a variety of this  musical basic note box. It plays a similar role to Thampura, except it’s electrical.







The Veenai is one of the most ancient string instrument of India. Its origin can be traced back to the ancient Yazh. The veenai is 1.5m long and is made from Jackwood. It has a large, round body with a thick, wide neck, the end of which is carved into the head of a dragon. A small resonator is attached to the underside of the neck. The veenai has 24 metal frets embedded in hardened Beeswax, mixed with charcoal powder.

Melody is produced on four metal strings. These are stretched over a wide bridge that sits on the body of the veenai. Three other strings run alongside the neck of the instrument. These are used for maintaining time and for playing the drone. The performer, who sits cross-legged on the stage, rests the small resonator on the left lap. The fingers of the left hand are used to press, pull and glide on the frets, while the fingers of the right hand are used to pluck and twang the strings.

The veenai is a complete instrument and provides the basic components: sruti, laya and sahitya. Its main attraction is the mellow tonal quality which is capable of evoking a meditative atmosphere. – wikipedia





 This is called the Thalam . Finely tuned brass cymbals which serve as a generic supplement to accompany music. This gives the beat of the music and rhythm.






The Nadaswaram, also known as nagaswaram (snake charmer), this is the South Indian version of the shehnai. This is a little bit bigger and has only two reeds compared to the shehnai’s four reeds. This instrument has 7 holes. Each hole is for each carnatic note (sa, re, ga, ma, pa, tha, ni)







The Thavil- this drum is used to accompany performances of the nadaswaram. It is played with thimbles, tacks, and sticks. The Thavil and nadaswaram is known as managala vaathyam (auspicious occasional instruments).









The Ottu – Similar to any other flute and accomapnies the Nadaswaram and Thavil. Made out of Mahogany wood with 7 or 8 holes on it. A metal end with wooden mouth piece. It gives the sruthi or the basic note to the above mentioned instruments.








 Venu – similar to the flute but mostly high pitch.






Other universal instruments that accompany a classical rendition.













           Violin – the ideas of a violin originated from south India during British rule. See the image below. This is the south Indian violin.















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