Kashmir is known for its enormous beauty, with landscape so colossal that the mountains are almost kissing the sky and the land that is always pregnant with fruits and flowers. Kashmiri music is definitely the rhythm of oneness with universe.
The valley has been blessed with great musicians, like the Santoor players Bhajan Sopori, Alla Rakha and Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, and continues to produce many more talented like Aabha Hanjura and Aadil Gurezi. With changing times, there is one thing that has remained constant among the musicians from the past and the musicians today, it is their love for traditional music instruments.
Let us revisit some of the musical treasuries of Jammu and Kashmir.
One of the oldest and most integral part of Kashmiri music, Rabab originated from central Afghanistan and was adapted into Kashmiri music centuries ago. Although Rabab or Rubab has undergone many constructional changes over a period of time, it remains the most likeable melody of the valley as it is believed that Kashmiri folk music is incomplete without Rabab.
“Rabab is that music or the tune which collects all tunes from instruments and creates its own music. That is why Rabab should be played at every party,” said Sonaullah Reshi, Kashmiri folk singer.
Kashmiri Rababs can be identified with a bulging body, an indented waist, four to six strings and side pegs; usually made by the walnut wood of Kashmiri or the usual almond or mulberry wood.
Indian Santoor is a traditional comrade of Kashmiri Folk music that in Sanskrit texts is referred to as Shata Tantri Vna (The 100 stringer Vina). Santoor is mostly paired with the Sufiana style of music which is an intrinsic part of Kashmiriyat. It can be seen even today in various musical events in the valley. A Santoor can be distinguished just by looking at it. It is in trapezoid-shape and made up of walnut wood that has of walnut and has 25 bridges. Each bridge has 4 strings, making for a total of 100 strings.
The music of a Santoor is the reminiscence of the rich cultural history, told through melody.
Tumbaknari holds a distinct attribute to it. Unlike other regions using Tumbaknari that make it from woods, Kashmiri Tumbaknari is made up of baked clay to maintain its originality. Its rhythm is so harmonious that it transcends the soul of the listeners to the depths of lakes till the lofty heights of mountains. And adding to its charm, it is also played by the women folk in the valley as a part of amusement and relaxation.
Tumbaknari comes to life after undergoing various phases of shaping and reshaping by the potter and ones into shape, the belly like structure can be put into anybody’s lap to produce melodious music to ease the mind.
Saz-e-Kashmir is an instrument that has been devised in Kashmir and plays an essential part in the cultural and folk music of the valley. One can easily identify this beautiful instrument due to its association with the traditional violin. It has a pot shaped belly with three strings attached to it and is played with a bow and kept in lap while playing.
Music is the soul of heavenly valley of Kashmir. And the traditional instruments accompany the melodies to accelerate to an celestial state.
Although, the present day artistes have also taken to western instruments as per the change of time, the old heritage remains intact in their melodies. Jammu and Kashmir’s recent Sufi and Folk star, Aabha Hanjura, serves as an apt example of an individual that is association with traditional music and instruments of the valley. May the musical heritage of Jammu and Kashmir continue to grow through our youth and lure the hearts of people.