The bansuri is a transverse flute of India made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes. An ancient musical instrument associated with cowherds and the pastoral tradition, it is intimately linked to the love story of Krishna and Radha, and is depicted in Buddhist paintings from around 100 AD. The Bansuri is revered as Lord Krishna’s divine instrument, and is often associated with Krishna’s Rasa lila; mythological accounts tell of the tunes of Krishna’s flute having a spellbinding and enthralling effect not only on the women of the Braj, but even on the animals of the region. The North Indian bansuri, typically about 14 inches in length, was traditionally used as a soprano instrument primarily for accompaniment in lighter compositions including film music. The bass variety (approximately 30″, tonic E3 at A440Hz), pioneered by Pannalal Ghosh has now been indispensable in Hindustani Classical music for well over half a century. Bansuris range in size from less than 12″ to nearly 40″.
Indian music is played in 3 octaves — mandra (lower), madhya (middle), and taar (high) — with ornamentations such as meends (glides) and gamaks (oscillations).