The 'shehnai' is a musical instrument, originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is made out of wood, with a double reed at one end and a metal or wooden flared bell at the other end. Its sound is thought to create and maintain a sense of auspiciousness and sanctity and, as a result, is widely used during marriages, processions and in temples although it is also played in concerts. The shehnai is similar to South India's nadaswaram.
|Other names||Shahnai, Shenai, Sahanai, Sanai, Shenoy, Shanai, Sahnai|
This tubular instrument gradually broadens towards the lower end. It usually has between six and nine holes. It employs one set of quadruple reeds, making it a quadruple reed woodwind. To master the instrument, the musician must employ various and intricate embouchure and fingering techniques.
Origin of the shehnai
Another theory of the origin of the shehnai is that the name is a modification of the word "sur-nal". The word nal/nali/nad is used in many Indian languages to mean pipe or reed. The word "sur" means tone or tune—musical note or simply music—and is used as a prefix to the names of many Indian instruments. The "sur-nal" is said to have given its name to the "surna/zurna" of the old Persian Empire, which is the name by which the reed-pipe is known throughout the Middle East and eastern Europe. Shehnai is usually played at traditional North Indian weddings and is associated with the bride leaving her parental house for her husband's house. Sometimes, two shehnais can be tied together, making it a double shawm similar to the ancient Greek aulos.
The counterparts to the shehnai played in West India and Coastal Karnataka are indigenous to the territory. Shenai players were/are an integral part of Goan/Konkani and temples along the western coast and the players are called Vajantri and were allotted lands for services rendered to the temples.
Notable Indian shehnai players
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- Ranade. p. 307.
- Hoiberg, p. 1
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- Chalumeau double (picture from the book "Illustrated encyclopedia of Musical Instruments".there are also reeds that are blown through to make it vibrate to make the sound come out
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