Folk Music and Folk Instrument
Folk music is the musical expression of people of a particular place. At a glance we find that in the rhythm of folk music and musical instruments used in it, there is a clear impression of what that place is like. Binai is one such instrument of Uttarakhand.
The Himalayas, mountains, rivers, ponds, waterfalls, jungles etc. compose a special environment of Uttarakhand. Musical expression of this environment is carried by few special types of musical instruments. Similar environment is home to many states and countries.This is the reason that Himalayan states of India and neighboring Himalayan regions of neighboring countries have similarities in their folk music.
The soul of Uttarakhand folk music corresponds to that of regions ranging from Nepal, Bhutan to Scottish music. Folk tunes and instruments used in these places and regions have amazing ability to express the geographical surroundings of the region and the life of the people. Whenever or wherever you listen to folk music of a particular area the picture of that place emerges in front of you.
Traditional instrument of Uttarakhand ‘Binai’
Mashakbeen, Dhol, Dumwa, Hudka, Bronze plate and conch etc. are the musical instruments that create the geographical, social andcultural landscape of Uttarakhand. As we know, the folk music of Uttarakhand is not in a very good state. Many folk music genres have become extinct with the passage of many great artists. Some of them are reaching their respective ends. The people and state don’t seem to be particularly interested in the preservation of folk music.
In the absence of any kind of patronage, many traditional instruments and folklores have either become extinct or are on the verge of it. Traditional instruments such as Sarangi, Jaunya Muruli, Binai, Bhokkar, Naagfani, Iktaraare now on the verge of extinction. One of these, ‘Binai’ is in the endangered musical instrument of Uttarakhand.
‘Binai’, whose sound is almost extinct in Uttarakhand, is known and used by many other names in other parts of the country and abroad.The English name of this instrument is Jaw Harp. This instrument is also known by the names of Morsing, Mukhrshankhu, Morchhang and Morchhing etc.
Apart from Uttarakhand it was widely used in the folk music of Rajasthan, Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, as well asSindh province of Pakistan, China, Norway, Russia, Iran, France, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Vietnam and Nepal.In different places, there is a difference in its shape and size. Today it is rarely in use.
In the folk music of Rajasthan it is used very well. This instrument is mainly used as a rhythm instrument. It has been used exquisitely in Rabindra Music of Bengal. Besides, S.D. Burman and R.D. Burman have used this in Indian films.
‘Binai’was played mainly by rural women in Uttarakhand. Like the Muruli, its tone also expresses the pain of separation.Therefore, ‘Binai’ was used by lovers or newly married couple, when they were away from each other.It is said that the melodious music from the ‘Binai’ used to cast a spell both upon the player and the audience for hours.
‘Binai’ is a small instrument made of iron made by local blacksmiths. In shape, it is similar to the horse’s cord. There is a thin and flexible band between the two thick attached tweezers of iron. vibration is produced on pressing both ends of the tweezers between the teeth and moving the fingers on in the thin strip of iron. By the fusion of vibration and whiff of the player, a harmonious sound emerges. The diversity of the tone is created by increasing and decreasing pressure inside the hollow. With lesser and lesser number of people taking up the blacksmith’s trade, there are not many people left who can make a Binai.
‘Binai’ is close to extinction
Currently you cannot see the ‘Binai’ anywhere in Uttarakhand. Some 20-30 years back it was played extensively in the villages of Uttarakhand. Like many other musical instruments, we have lost ‘Binai’ too. Although there are a lot of books about musical instruments and lot of articles on the internet too, but ‘Binai’ is not recorded anywhere as an instrument belonging to Uttarakhand’s musical heritage.
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